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Parenting expert, Peneolope Leach, has said that leaving a baby to cry is potentially damaging - if a baby is left to cry on a regular basis it could be damaging to the developing baby. These claims are made in her book, The Essential First Year, published earlier this year. This is, of course, in total contrast to the work of Gina Ford, who claims that parents should leave a baby crying, so to teach them to settle themselves.
Leach has used saliva swabs to measure the level of the stress hormone cortisol in crying babies who get no comfort from their parents. Leach claims that neurobiologists say these hormones are toxic to the developing brain and therefore maintains that it is fact, and not opinion, that it is damaging.
She admits that all babies cry, and agrees that some cry more than others. However she maintains that in the first year, babies cry to get a response and by parents ignoring this effort to communicate, and elicit a response, they are risking long term consequences. She says babies cry for a reason, their lungs are not just needing exercise! She also states that babies are not capable of fooling their parents or "blackmail" in the first 18 months so a cry is there for a reason.
Leach is an honorary senior researcher fellow at the Tavistock Clinic and the Institute for the Study of Children, Family and Social Issues.
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