Debate: Your baby is crying. It won't stop. Should you cuddle it - or leave it alone?


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The Independent Online


What's going on

As our brilliant reporter Charlotte Philby wrote yesterday, the celebrity supernanny and alleged parenting expert (whatever that means) Rachel Waddilove has a new book out, advising parents on how to raise their children. These areas arouse strong feelings, and a lot of very clever people think the whole idea of deferring to experts on parenting is itself dangerous. One area that perhaps causes more controversy and disagreement than any other is what to do when they're upset. Should crying babies be left alone?

Case For: Character-building

At last, some sense on parenting. For too long the molly-coddlers have been unchallenged on how we should raise our children. Now there’s a study to support what many of us – experienced, loving parents – have known for so long. Leaving children to cry is not cruel; in fact it might be the most sensible thing to do. And better rest makes for better mums and dads in the morning.

Case Against: Compassion

Every parent understands the desire to soothe a crying baby's discomfort. The idea that leaving an upset baby well alone will improve its character is a nonsense, and totally lacking in evidence. It's only by coming to the aid of a crying baby that the baby's suffering will be reduced, and this is of course the best way to generate and strengthen the bond between parent and child. Finally, anyone who has had children knows the value of sleep. Leaving a baby to cry means even less sleep, and that is a route to hell.