Thank you for your recent emails regarding the 'Bringing Up Baby' television programme.
Having reviewed the programmes that have been screened to date, the NSPCC believes that they are publicising outdated and potentially harmful methods of baby care and we are calling on TV executives to be more careful when making such programmes.
The programme has provoked one of the highest levels of inquiries to the NSPCC in recent years, with more than 60 messages from viewers expressing their concerns at some of the methods it promotes.
One method tested in the programme relies on what the NSPCC considers as strict, inflexible routines which deny eye contact between parent and baby during feeding, promote limited cuddling and leave infants to cry alone for long periods. These rigid routines appeared to leave some babies and parents taking part in the programme in distress.
Our parenting advisor, Eileen Hayes has said that: "Suggesting that a small baby could be 'manipulative' is discredited and can lead to potentially damaging patterns of care. Similarly leaving babies to cry for long periods is stressful and research suggests it may be damaging. Strict authoritarian routines pay little attention to parents' natural instincts about their infants or the wealth of research that has shown the importance of early sensitive care for health and well-being. It's the most natural thing in the world for a mother to want to cuddle and make eye contact with her newborn - and babies love it as well.
"Babies are born with a social instinct and communicate through touch, sound, eye contact and facial expressions. This sensitive communication plays a vital role in attachment, and ensuring that infants develop a sense of trust and security, which gives a firm foundation for their growing sense of identity and self-esteem.
"The first weeks after birth are a crucial period when parents and babies get to know one other. It can be a very challenging time when vulnerable parents are particularly anxious to get advice about the best way to care for their baby. Programme-makers must recognise that some viewers may consider what they see as an approved method. They have a responsibility to tell viewers when methods are widely disputed by health professionals and academics."
Once we have viewed the final programme, we will decide what further action we will take. Eileen sends her best wishes - she is out at a conference today so I am replying to you on both our behalves.
With best wishes
Christopher Cloke, Head of Child Protection Awareness and Diversity, NSPCC
Sign the 10 Downing Street petition!
or cut and paste the URL in your browser http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/parentingshows/