As soon as the weather turns in Chicagoland, I know: 'Tis the season to start hearing all the dangers, illness, and strife that await my nearly 10-year-old son if he keeps refusing to wear a coat.

'Tis the season to endure the shaming glances, the "what a bad mom" nods while I shrug and offer: "He says he gets hot."

Maybe it's because I'm so fresh into the shaming season that I reacted so strongly to a new campaign from the City of Milwaukee that aims to curb the number of infants dying from unsafe sleeping conditions, particularly from co-sleeping—the practice of parents letting their baby sleep in their bed. The campaign includes radio ads, a Safe Sleep Summit, a "Safe Sleep Sabbath" song, and, most recently, two posters featuring sleeping babies cuddled up on piles of pillows and comforters, within reach of a butcher's knife. The words across the top: "Your baby sleeping with you can be just as dangerous."

Since the campaign's goal is nothing short of noble, you would think I'd be a huge fan.

When my kids were babies, I faced no greater fear than having them die suddenly (this is still my greatest fear). I took great precaution—no tummy-sleeping, no blankets, no pillows, no stuffed animals, no loose-fitting jammies—to make sure my babies slept as safely as possible. And since I appreciate Milwaukee's vigor in trying to reduce the number of infants apparently dying from co-sleeping, you'd think I'd appreciate the punch of the campaign's posters. Especially since at least nine infants have died this year from alleged co-sleeping arrangements. Further, according to the City of Milwaukee, "Between 2006 and 2009, there were 89 infant deaths related to SIDS, SUDI, or accidental suffocation. Of these, 46 (51.7 percent) infants were sleeping in an adult bed at the time of their death."

But I'm no fan of the campaign.

I'm no fan of "bad mom" insinuations, whether about coats or co-sleeping. I'm no fan of implying that parents who choose to co-sleep are as reckless or malicious as those who'd put their babies to bed with a knife. And I'm no fan of the government "educating" a public via shame and shock and hyperbolic misinformation.

I've never been a fanatical co-sleeper proponent (in fact, with my first two, I rather shunned the practice), but by the time I had my third, having my baby—who nursed round-the-clock—sleep next to me seemed a lot safer than me getting up six times a night, wobbling over to his bassinet or crib, gathering him up, settling me back down, nursing, sleeping, putting him back down, me wobbling back to bed.

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So co-sleeping it became. I read up on it, I asked our pediatrician about it, and I discovered that it could be a safe and healthy. Our doctor offered many of the same rules Dr. Sears (a noted "attachment parenting" expert and co-sleeping proponent) notes in response to the Milwaukee campaign:

-No baby between mom and dad (mommies are more attuned to a baby's movement and likely to rouse if needed).
-No co-sleeping if one parent's been drinking or taking drugs or sleep aids.
-No baby on pillows, wrapped in blankets, etc.

So I followed all this, and I found co-sleeping safe and lovely. Granted, not entirely without risk. But what in the world of childrearing is?

In response to criticism of the ads, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett told ABC News he realized the ads make people uncomfortable, but told them, "I guarantee it's a lot less uncomfortable than having another baby die from co-sleeping."

Of course. No one wants another child to die from co-sleeping, or from anything.

My discomfort from the campaign has little to do with the shock value of the ad. My discomfort stems from my curiosity about what Milwaukee is really trying to say here.

Unlike those who will give me dirty looks or ask me about my parenting when my hot-blooded boy goes sans coat, when the government gives dirty looks via shock-value posters like this, we have to wonder: Are they trying to make babies safe, or are they trying to criminalize co-sleeping? Because these posters sure seem to say that parents who co-sleep endanger their kids. And I'm pretty sure child endangerment is illegal in Milwaukee.

if the city had wanted to protect babies, a poster with information would've sufficed. It seems they could've listed the "rules" of safe co-sleeping, and still offered the website for further information and the free Pack-N-Play to parents who can't afford a crib.

I realize that some will say that "shock value" pays off if it saves just one baby's life. But when the government (or any of us) is trying to help parents to make wise choices, shame and shock make lousy tactics.

We can't expect city governments to be in the business of modeling Jesus' approach to sin and shame, but we should be. And we have no better example than Jesus and the woman caught in adultery, when Jesus drew in the sand and offered his "you without sin cast the first stone" zinger. He dealt with her honestly, gently, and lovingly, understanding the deeper issues at play.

Likewise, when concerned about the well-being of a child, our approach should be empathetic, loving, and grace-filled. We need to remember that God created mothers (and fathers) with fierce and primal protective natures. At the first whiff of danger, most moms will stop or re-evaluate a practice.

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And for the moms who don't—the ones who ignore all danger cues, and the ones this ad campaign is designed to reach—something else is amiss, a deeper issue is at play. And it's not something a poster is going to solve.

Caryn Rivadeneira is the author of Grumble Hallelujah: Learning to Love Your Life Even When It Lets You Down (Tyndale, 2011). She lives with her family in the western suburbs of Chicago, and writes for Her.meneutics regularly.