Bringing up baby

Channel 4's latest controversial social experiement aims to find out which is the best way to 'bring up your baby' once and for all - did you see it yet?
Did you see it? Quite possibly the most talked about program in the AskBaby office since Sex and the City (and that's saying something!!), Bringing Up Baby is Channel 4's attempt to find out once and for all which is the best way to care for your newborn.

Featuring the 'big 3' schools of thought on child raising from the last 50 years, Channel 4's experts help to guide six families through the first 3 months of life with their new baby. Each couple is encouraged to follow their chosen approach by the book and has a 'mentor' on hand to guide them if they falter on the way.

The Continuum Concept (mentored by Claire Scott) became popular in the 70's and has seen a bit of a revival in the past few years. It focuses on interacting with your baby naturally; encouraging breastfeeding on demand, co sleeping and close contact as much as possible.

Dreena Hamilton mentors Dr Spocks approach which takes the view that a parent instinctively knows how best to nurture their own child. This approach is all about tailoring a routine to suit your baby's individual needs and striking a balance between your time as a parent, as an individual and as a couple.

Finally, and possibly most shockingly, Claire Verity champions Dr Kings Strict Routine. This approach places value in discipline and early detachment and sees newborns in their nursery from day one and cuddling restricted to a maximum of ten minutes a day in order to promote predictability. To us this seems a little extreme especially as one recent study has found that doubling the amount of time you cuddle your new born baby halves the amount of time they will cry.

That's according to research from Wilkinet, the children's baby carrier company, which is launching a national cuddle campaign to show both the short and long term benefits of being close to baby.

A survey of hundreds of mums, and dads, shows that children who are cuddled constantly - for example while being held in a baby carrier - were more likely to be 'confident in themselves' and 'sociable' than children who were not carried.

And the cuddling is still beneficial for adults, 80 per cent of women and 75 per cent of men say that a cuddle is still the most popular option when they want to be reassured, far more effective than eating, drinking or shopping.

This research backs studies from the Department of Paediatrics at the Montreal children's hospital, which shows that in studies babies who were cuddled for five hours a day (twice the time of the average two and a half hours) cried fifty per cent less than the average baby.

The National Academy of Sciences has looked at the level of hormones in the body following a good cuddle. Oxytocin and Arginine Vasopressin, which play a role in response to stress and social bonding, rise after both adults and children, are cuddled.

The Wilkinet carrier was designed by mum of eight Sally Wilkins and is celebrating its 25th anniversary. The company is now run by one of her sons, Gideon, and he says the original Wilkinet, now in a range of sumptuous fabrics and colours is still the best way for a busy new mum to cuddle her baby constantly, supporting both her back and baby, unlike other carriers which leave baby's legs to dangle, putting all the pressure on their tiny pelvis.

He says:" Scientific evidence suggests we should all cuddle more! But in particular babies really do benefit from being cuddled as much as possible. This is impossible to do for hours on end unless you really do nothing at all, but by wearing a Wilkinet you can get on with life while providing that valuable support for your baby. We even have yoga teachers teaching within weeks of giving birth because they can cuddle their babies while exercising!"

Aired at 9pm every Tuesday on Channel 4 this is an incredibly thought provoking program and definitely worth a watch!

Did you manage to catch Bringing Up Baby already? We'd love to hear your thoughts on the different child raising approaches featured on this program, visit our AskBaby Forums to share your ideas.

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