Is it dangerous to leave a distressed baby to cry? Renowned parenting expert Penelope Leach is warning that regularly leaving a baby to cry without comforting him can lead to long-term emotional damage.
In her new book, The First Year – What Babies Need Parents to Know, Penelope claims that high levels of cortisol (which occur when a baby is very distressed) can be “toxic” to a baby’s developing brain and lead to the development of an anxious child and adult.
She argues that babies cry for a reason – not just to exercise their lungs – and stresses that babies are not capable of emotional blackmail before 12-18 months.
Although Penelope doesn’t mention Gina Ford, she is clearly not a fan of regimented routines, such as those featured in Gina’s best-selling Contented Little Baby books, where it’s advised you can leave your baby to cry for a while if you know he’s clean, fed and burped.
Penelope is concerned that training a young baby into a routine promotes the idea that a baby should fit into parents’ busy lives rather than parents changing their lives when a baby comes along. Her comments are likely to fuel the hot debate about routine vs on-demand.
“If there is a point to writing this book, it’s so that it can be more comfortable for babies as well as parents,” she told The Guardian. “That’s what I don’t like about the opposite school, which goes for ease for the parent.”
What do you think? Is rushing to your baby every time he cries the right approach or is it pandering too much? Let us know below…