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Desmond Morris, one of Britain’s best-known zoologists and author of the Naked Ape has spoken out forcefully against what he calls “unnatural” and “brutal” childcare techniques advocated by modern day experts, reports Amelia Hill in The Observer.

“I’m very angry that baby books have recently begun repeating the unnatural dictates from so-called childcare “experts” of the past, who ordered mothers never to hug or kiss their babies and ignore them if they cry,” said Morris.

Amelia Hill notes that Morris blames this resurgence on the fragmentation of modern society with young women “looking for advice because they don’t have the support of their extended family, their partner or other women who have already had children,” and who consequently do not understand the more subtle messages like the first sign that a baby is not well or that they are not developing as they should.

He joins in criticisms of current self-styled “baby gurus” such as Claire Verity, from the Channel 4 programme, ‘Bringing up Baby’ and Gina Ford, author of ‘The New Contented Little Baby Book’ for their promotion of authoritarian parenting techniques and strict regimes. Claire Verity, in particular, has been accused of child cruelty for recommending such practices as leaving babies to sleep in separate rooms and discouraging eye contact with children.

“I believe that, if a parent knows what the facts are, they see it’s pretty easy to decide for themselves how their baby should be treated”

Morris is disturbed by the revival of interest in these methods that seem to be following the harsh advice of John Watson, the Americanchildcare expert of the 1920s, reports Nicole Martin in The Daily Telegraph. The zoologist claims he has a vested interest in putting a stop to the “cold discipline”, having nearly died from pneumonia as a baby when his mother left him outside in a pram in harsh winds after following the advice of Watson.

Desmond Morris’s criticism also coincided with the launch of his own book, Baby, in which he explains the biological, chemical and physical changes that occur as a baby grows, giving parents information as to what its like to be a human infant. He hopes that from this information parents themselves can form their own decisions as to how best to care for their child: “I believe that, if a parent knows what the facts are, they see it’s pretty easy to decide for themselves how their baby should be treated.”