Azara Blog: Young children should allegedly be looked after by their mothers

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Date published: 2005/10/03

The BBC says:

Young children looked after by their mothers develop better than those cared for in nurseries, or by relatives or childminders, research suggests.

About 1,200 children were monitored from birth to the age of three.

The social and emotional development of babies who were cared for by someone other than the mother was "definitely less good", the report's authors said.

The study, by the National Childminding Association, was one of the biggest carried out so far on UK childcare.

Mothers were seen as the best carers, followed by nannies and childminders, then grandparents, and nursery care was the worst, the study said.

Study author Penelope Leach said the results were not a call for all mothers to stay at home and give up work.

Instead, they highlighted a demand for "developmentally appropriate high-quality childcare".

A classic confusion of correlation and causation. In particular, did the researchers factor out the socioeconomic status of the families? The correct way to do this research is to randomly assign children to different types of caring, and see what happens. And unfortunately, one has to treat with caution results from research carried out by the National Childminding Association on the subject of child care. Luckily they managed to make the results say that childminding was not the best, but of course everyone (certainly the chattering classes) believe that mothers are best, so just as well that that came out on top. And as with all sociological research, specific results should never be used to claim a "big picture" conclusion. If you looked at other things no doubt you could easily show that nursery care is "best".

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