Study reveals that leaving babies to 'cry it out' isn't harmful and can help soothe them

baby crying
(Image credit: Getty Images/Cultura RF)

Leaving babies to 'cry it out' has no effect on their behaviour as toddlers, according to a new study.

Experts from the University of Warwick have revealed that the development of babies left to cry it out is the same as those who are constantly soothed by the time they reach 18 months.

In addition to this, children who were left to cry were just as attached to their mothers too.

Whether or not you should leave a crying baby to soothe itself has been a topic for debate among parents, but this study suggests that it's perfectly fine to do.

This 'crying it out' technique is also known as controlled crying, and is commonly used to help establish a regular sleep routine for your baby.

The study examined 178 children and their caregivers to update the decades-old previous research into this.

Parents were quizzed on how often their child cried and their use of the 'crying it out' technique.

They discovered that leaving a baby to cry had no effect on infant-mother attachment after six months.

babies cry it out

Credit: Getty Images

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Cognitive tests and play sessions confirmed there was no difference in behavioural development at 18 months.

According to the experts, many parents responded to intuitively to babies by going to them immediately when they cried.

But as they got older, they waited to see if their baby could calm itself down without needing to be soothed.

Study lead Professor Dieter Wolke said, “We have to give more credit to parents and babies.

"Most parents intuitively adapt over time and are attuned to their baby’s needs."

He added, “They wait a bit before intervening when crying and allow their babies the opportunity to learn to self-regulate.”

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Lucy Buglass
Digital Writer

Lucy Buglass is a Digital Writer for What's on TV,, and Woman&Home. After finishing her degree in Film Studies at Oxford Brookes University she moved to London to begin her career. She's passionate about entertainment and spends most of her free time watching Netflix series, BBC dramas, or going to the cinema to catch the latest film releases.