1

According to some news articles I found, leaving a baby to cry can cause brain damage:

The guardian:

"Leaving baby to cry could damage brain development, parenting guru claims"
Leaving a distressed baby to cry on a regular basis could be damaging to the developing brain, according to parenting guru Penelope Leach

Independent.co.uk

"Babies left to cry can suffer brain damage, warns parenting guru"
Distressed babies who are repeatedly left to cry are at risk of developing problems in later life

These articles also state that this is in conflict with other research (from the independent link):

However, research published last month found no ill effects on children whose parents had used "controlled crying" when they were babies.

I'm really curious to know how this research was conducted. I can't imagine they told some mothers to not tend to their babies' needs. I'm curious to know what qualifies as regular, repeated crying, and for how long.

I haven't been able to find out which research they're talking about here. Will leaving a baby to cry cause brain damage? How much crying is too much?

  • 4
    It might be worth noting that "damaging to the developing brain" is not equal to "brain damage," as they're speaking non-scientifically. One could consider emotional issues as a "damage" caused by this, but not actual "brain damage." To me this changes the question, as the sources are meaning something different. – Jarrod Christman Jul 31 '18 at 13:31
  • @JarrodChristman The "brain damage" wording comes from the independent article title: "Babies left to cry can suffer brain damage". It's possible (and likely) they equated the two, but it isn't the wording I made up, so it is part of the claim. I edited in the headlines. – user43226 Jul 31 '18 at 13:34
  • 2
    "Controlled crying" is likely to mean a very specific procedure, which is employed when the baby is crying not out of distress, but simply as a means to "get mommy back". The procedure, as I know it, is to check immediately if everything is OK with the toddler, then re-checking at increasing intervals -- to make sure there's nothing wrong, while at the same time "teaching" that constant crying does not equate constant presence of mommy (or daddy). That is quite different from "leaving a baby to cry" regardless. The Independent is giving the impression of a contraposition where there isn't. – DevSolar Jul 31 '18 at 14:06
  • @DevSolar That sounds right to me. In context of getting the baby to sleep on his own, I've seen it called sleep training. – fredsbend Jul 31 '18 at 15:42
  • 1
    @Oddthinking They're close, but that question seems to be about (hard to measure) emotional or psychological harm, while this is narrower, about (presumably measurable) brain damage. Obviously brain damage and psychological harm can be linked, but it's possible to have one without the other in both directions – user56reinstatemonica8 Aug 1 '18 at 9:55