Should you always immediately intervene when your baby cries?


Leaving an infant to ‘cry it out’ from birth up to 18 months does not adversely affect their behaviour development or attachment, researchers from the University of Warwick have found, they also discovered that those left to cry cried less and for a shorter duration at 18 months of age.

Researchers from the University of Warwick have today, the 11th of March had the paper ‘Parental use of ‘cry it out’ in infants: No adverse effects on attachment and behavioural development at 18 months’ published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.

In the paper they deal with an issue that is discussed for decades by parent websites and parents without much scientific evidence: Should you always immediately intervene when your baby cries?

The sample with complete longitudinal data comprised 178 infants and their caretakers. Parental use of ‘leaving infant to cry out’ and cry duration were assessed with maternal report at term, 3, 6 and 18 months, and frequency of crying was assessed at term, 3 and 18 months of age. Attachment was measured at 18 months using the strange situation procedure. Behavioural development of the infant was assessed with two observational measures and a parent-report questionnaire at 18 months.

Contemporary practice of some parents in the United Kingdom to occasionally or often ‘leaving infant to cry it out’ during the first 6 months was not associated with adverse behavioural development and attachment at 18 months. Increased use of ‘leaving to cry it out’ with age may indicate differential responding by parents related to infant self-regulation.

What do you think about “leaving infant to cry it out”?