The Contented Little Baby Book By Gina Ford - A Review

The New Contented Little Baby Book by Gina Ford has something of a mythical status amongst mothers in the UK. A book for parents of new babies it promises to help you get your baby into a sleep routine that means that it will sleep through the night by the age of 10 weeks. Using methods that are seen as fairly outdated in these times of demand feeding it divides parents like few other subjects into the "it saved my sanity" and the "it should be banned" camps. 

What Gina Ford advocates is almost exactly the opposite of what most midwives promote today. Whilst your midwife or health care provider may tell you that demand feeding and sleeping are currently considered best parenting practice, Gina Ford offers routines that get your baby into a sleeping and eating routine almost from day one. 

Gina Ford explains how breastfeeding, sleep cycles and natural sleep rhythms work and then builds a routine around these based on what you learn.

The one thing Gina Ford isn't is indecisive. Her routines are both prescriptive and strict. She tells you exactly what time you need to feed your baby, bathe your baby and the exact times of the day that it should sleep. 

Her ideas do make senses however. Many parents (including myself) initially don't understand exactly how breastfeeding works and how the mothers body operates on a supply and demand basis. Gina Ford not only explains this but also creates a routine that means that you are actually making too much milk initially and must express and store it. This might sound like overkill but is invaluable when your baby has a growth spurt and you suddenly need extra milk. Many hours of pain and tears are saved by the fact that your body is already making enough milk to meet the increased demand. 

Many of the things that Gina Ford points out are actually obvious. i.e. that if you want your baby to sleep through the night they cannot sleep more than a certain number (approx 3.5 hours) per day during the day. Intellectually knowing this doesn't mean that you know how to work out when a baby should sleep during the day however. Gina resolves this by telling you exactly when your baby should sleep and has routines for each week of their age. 

Similarly, once I thought about it it was obvious that my daughter needed to get all of her milk supply needs during the day if I wanted her to sleep through the night. However it never really occurred to me what the implications of that were at that point. I had never considered that that meant that I shouldn't just let her sleep a bit longer instead of feed, or that I needed to encourage her feed a certain number of times during the day otherwise she would compensate at night. After all, the midwife had stressed to me that the baby should be demand fed, when she cried I should feed. 

One of the major problems of demand fed babies is that for many parents their babies feed irregularly. This means that it is hard to know whether the baby is crying through hunger or because of some other reason. One of the best things about Gina Fords routines is that because your baby starts to follow the routine very closely after a while you know whether they are hungry or due a sleep so you know whether these are likely to be the reasons for their crying. 

Do Gina Ford's Methods Work?

The one thing that I can categorically state is that her routines worked for me. My children are dream sleepers. I began to follow Gina Ford's routines from 6 weeks of age with my eldest daughter and she slept through from 12 weeks. With my second child I began immediately after she was born, and she first slept through at 6 weeks although she didn't manage it consistently until 10 weeks.

My children are older now (6 and nearly 9) and they have always (excpet during illness) slept through the night. They have never fought going to bed, in fact they often ask to go when tired. Both of them still have a bedtime of between 7-7.30pm and wake between 6 and 7am when they read happily in their rooms until my husband or I wake up. My eldest who needs slightly less sleep these days doesn't always fall asleep at 7.30pm, i now allow her to read until 8pm and that seems to suit her fine.

The great joy of this is that since my children were very small babies my husband and I have had our evenings to ourselves. We have never had a child get up and come downstairs. We are free to talk, read or watch tv together every evening, and in all honesty I think this has had valuable benefits for our sanity and how happy we have been as parents.

Not everybody likes the Gina Ford method of parenting from The Contented Little Baby Book. For me it was frankly a revelation. You can read about more of my experience on my other Gina Ford hub.The best thing is probably for you to beg, borrow, buy or steal a copy for yourself and see whether you think she could improve your life as much as she has mine.

Reviews Of The New Contented Little Baby Book by Gina Ford.

Here are some of the reviews of Gina Fords Methods from various UK newspapers:

'"I devoured it (Contented Little Baby Book) in one sitting. It was hilarious. The claim that a baby of five months could be trained to sleep from 7am to 7pm made me laugh out loud. Little did I realise that this was the start of my conversion to the gospel according to St Gina. That Gina Ford would soon acquire an almost divine status in my life....I look back on my BGE (Before Gina Era) and think of how many of my babies has cried and cried as I ever more desperately struggled to get them to sleep....My only regret, of course, is that Gina did not write her book years ago, when my older children were born. I look in the mirror and wonder what a difference that would have made to the bags under my eyes. If motherhood had always been as easy as it seems this time, I might not have had five children - but 10. Maybe Ruth Kelly's secrets is that she has a copy of St Gina."', Martine Oborne, Evening Standard

'for me she was an absolute godsend', Kate Winslet, Baby & You 

"It is hard to overestimate the good she has done...How to reward this great benefactor of mankind?...My wife takes the view that only sainthood will do.", Peter Osborne, Political Editor, The Spectator 

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