28/01/2014 14:12 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Controlled Crying - Is It Harmful?

It's one of the most hotly debated topics: should you leave a baby to cry itself to sleep or not?

Now child expert Dr Miriam Stoppard says "controlled crying" is unnatural and even harmful.

"Controlled crying" has become very fashionable in recent years. The idea is that you leave the baby to cry in its cot until it falls asleep. This is supposed to help him or her learn to fall asleep without help.

Writing in the Belfast Telegraph, Dr Stoppard says that before the baby is developmentally ready to go to sleep itself, you can't train him or her. Once the baby is ready, he or she doesn't need training.

This will come as a great comfort to those mothers who can't stand leaving their baby to cry for more than five seconds.

Dr Stoppard says stress in infancy, caused by leaving a young baby to cry, can result in "high levels of stress hormones that dampen the formation of a healthy brain".

She refers to a book by three American psychiatrists, professors Lewis, Amini and Lannon, who suggest that this can change the baby's brain forever.

They believe that letting a baby cry for long periods can lead to timid, clingy children, neurotic, withdrawn teenagers and adults vulnerable to anxiety and depression.

To all those who claim that pandering to their baby will "spoil" them, Dr Stoppard says this is nonsense.

"The best kind of mother is one who hugs her child when she feels the child needs a hug, who lifts her child when she thinks that her child wants to be picked up and who puts her down when she thinks her baby is ready for sleep," she says.

"The same mother will feed her baby when he's hungry (and not clock watch) and let him sleep when she senses he's tired."

I'm really glad she says controlled crying is a bad idea. Because I really don't want to try it.

However, I do know mothers who claim they left their baby to cry once at just a few weeks old and they never did it again. Now their babies are sleeping through the night and mine is still waking up every two hours at best.

Source [Belfast Telegraph]

What do you think? Has controlled crying worked for you? Or do you think it's bad for babies?