Parenting books put to the test – ‘The New Contented Little Baby Book’

With so many baby books on the shelf, it can hard to pick one that’s right for you. Our mums take a leaf out the experts’ books and report back on the approaches…

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‘The New Contented Little Baby Book’ by Gina Ford

Beloved by celebrities such as Kate Winslet, The New Contented Little Baby Book sets out the philosophy of child rearing that Gina Ford devised during her career as a maternity nurse. Using routines that match a growing baby’s innate natural rhythms, Gina believes parents can prevent the hunger, overtiredness and colic that cause excessive crying. Hence babies should sleep through the night (7pm to 7am) from about 6 weeks.

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Mum tester

Germaine Greig, 31, is a primary school teacher. She lives with husband Barney and 18 month old Kitty near Bath. She loves the ‘practical and sensible’ approach of Gina Ford’s The New Contented Little Baby Book, which she followed ‘like a bible’.

What our mum thought…

“Being a teacher I recognise that children love routine, and thought maybe babies do too. I’d heard about Gina Ford from friends who’d been very successful in getting their babies to sleep through the night.

It’s just like an instruction manual. It seemed like a very sensible plan to get your baby into a routine that ensures she is happy, while also making you feel confident about knowing what to do and when. Plus, it lets you get some sleep!

I hid my copy of the book while on the maternity ward. I knew that current thinking favours baby-led parenting and disapproves of Gina’s methods! I waited until I’d returned home from the hospital, when Kitty was 3 days old, then started her on the regime straight away.

Gina lays out her weekly and then monthly plans designed for the needs of your developing baby at each stage. You work on a 7am – 7pm day, feeding baby at set intervals and allowing her to sleep at set times. Kitty had quite a low birth weight, so I stayed on the regime for a one-week-old baby for some time.

Kitty responded brilliantly from day one. She was a very contented baby, and on the rare occasions when she did cry we could suss out what was wrong as we understood her feeding and sleeping patterns so well.

Many think the book is just about ‘controlled crying’. We seldom had to use this and it is hard to do, but Gina gives clear guidelines on how to manage it while ensuring your child feels secure and loved.

Contrary to Gina’s wishes, Kitty was often lulled to sleep by the sound of the Eastenders’ theme tune! I also found swaddling her really helped. She slept through the night from 12 weeks despite being so small, so I quickly saw the rewards.

I felt I was helping my child to adjust to life outside the womb. How can babies come into the world and know when to eat and how to get to sleep by themselves? It takes them far longer to sort out a sleep routine if left to their own devices.

People commented on how rarely my child cried and that she slept so well from so early on. Gina’s regime means your baby doesn’t cry much because it ensures all her needs are met.

I worried about not giving Kitty enough cuddles. Gina says holding babies too much can be tiring for young bodies and can give them the wrong sleep associations. Gina Ford is a professional nanny, but she’s not a mother. Her book is more of a technical guide – a professional’s perspective. It can come across as quite cold, even harsh. You’re the mother; you have to inject your own warmth into it.

You can’t pick and choose with Gina, not in the first 9 months at least. You have to stick to the times for eating and sleeping for it to work, so it’s not hugely flexible. Implementing the regime while out and about was easy in the early days, but got trickier later on. I found it was best to be at home for her midday sleep, but loved knowing that I would have 2 ½ hours every lunchtime to get on with chores or catch up on sleep.

It’s not just a guide to have a contented baby; it’s a life guide too. It has advice on what you need in the nursery, tips on weaning and general parenting. I’d recommend it to anyone who values sleep and wants to know how to care for a newborn. It’s simple when you get going.

Seeing what a happy, relaxed baby and great sleeper Kitty is, friends have followed my lead. I don’t push my ideas though – each to their own. But I do often think: ‘Thanks goodness I discovered Gina!’ and I feel sorry for those who haven’t.”

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See what our mums thought about On Becoming Babywise, Continuum Concept, and Secrets of the Baby Whisperer.

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