New research into the age-old dilemma faced by new parents of whether you let your bawling baby cry it out or cuddle them on demand has shed more light on the issue.

According to an article in the Daily Telegraph, a child psychologist says the "hands-off" approach of many British parents who follow "controlled crying" techniques, and allow their baby to scream without always picking him up, is counter-productive.

Although the camps are divided on whether or not you should let your baby cry, experts now say that comforting babies may work better than leaving them to cry, at least in the first few weeks of life.

For his study Prof Ian St James-Roberts, of University of London's Institute of Education asked parents from London and Copenhagen to keep a diary of their baby's crying and night-waking and their own responses at 8-14 days, five to six weeks and 10-14 weeks.

London parents held their babies on average for eight hours, 30 minutes a day and those living in Copenhagen for just under 10 hours a day.

Prof St James-Roberts, whose research is being published in the journal Paediatrics this week, said comforting a baby on demand could minimise fussing and crying in the early weeks.

But he told New Scientist: "It makes no difference to unsoothable bouts of crying that are at the core of colic."

He also said that there was little to gain from giving a baby a very high level of comfort when he cried. He found that, in general, Copenhagen parents found their babies cried as little as those who were picked up frequently, and at 12 weeks they cried less.