2 FEBRUARY 1974, Page 3

Spock 'S babies

It is never, as the adage says, too late to learn and, in his eighties, Dr Benjamin Spock has proved its truth, retracting as he has now done all that idiotic advice advanced years ago to parents in Baby and Child Care. The Spock thesis originally was that love conquered all; that firmness and discipline should be placed carefully in a back seat; and that the little .monsters which all our children are from time to time should themselves be judges of the ,amount of independence and aggression they 'should enjoy. Now all is changed, and changed 'utterly, and decisiveness, consistency and order are to be the parental watchwords. It is 'all, of course, rather late in the day for that; and Dr Spock can hardly be allowed the feast of a prodigal son. But it is comforting that he has said it; and even more comforting to reflect that he may perhaps have been led to change his mind by his recent associations with student protesters of all the unwashed varieties, themselves potty-trained physically and intellectually according to his dictates.