Living: Is Day Care Bad for Babies?

Hard facts are beginning to clarify a politicized debate

Expert opinion on child rearing is no less subject to fashion than the length of hemlines. Witness the advice given to parents by Psychologist John B. Watson in his influential 1928 handbook Psychological Care of Infant and Child: "Never hug and kiss them, never let them sit in your lap. If you must, kiss them once on the forehead when they say good night. Shake hands with them in the morning."

The views of child-development experts on day care have also fluctuated, often reflecting the prevailing political winds. They have swung from very negative in the 1950s to positive in the...