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Don’t let crying babies lie

In a new book, Penelope Leach, the doyenne of parenting gurus, has claimed that leaving a distressed baby to cry regularly could be damaging to the developing brain.

world Updated: Apr 23, 2010 00:05 IST

Some parents are fervent followers of her strict regime of sleeping and feeding times, believing it delivered them from a fractious baby and disrupted nights.

Now, in a new book, Penelope Leach, the doyenne of parenting gurus, has claimed that leaving a distressed baby to cry regularly could be damaging to the developing brain.

Neurobiologists say that high cortisol levels are “toxic” to the developing brain. “It is not an opinion but a fact that it's potentially damaging to leave babies to cry. Now we know that, why risk it?” Leach writes in her book, The Essential First Year — What Babies Need Parents to Know.

She is not arguing that it is bad for babies to cry. “All babies cry. Some cry more than others.” But crying, in the first year or so, is the only way a baby can get a response.

Denying a response, she says, can have long-term emotional consequences.