Gina Ford is a name that often splits many parent's opinions. For many, the parenting guru’s method are considered controversial, but it promises to ultimately provide what most new parents dream of – a baby who sleeps through the night.
Fans of the method say it can help your baby sleep for a full 12 hours from just a few weeks old, but you’ll need a fair bit of willpower and self-discipline. So, is it right for you?
What is the Gina Ford method?
By following nine different routines that match your baby’s natural rhythms, this method claims to avoid the issues that bring on endless tears such as hunger and tiredness.
Your day will be broken down into five-minute slots to help settle your baby into a routine quickly, with strict direction on naps, feeds and bedtime.
For example, your baby must be up and fed by 7am each day (gulp, early start). She’ll need a feed every four hours in her room, and her naps are just as strict. At 6.15pm, you’ll give your baby her last feed before bedtime and avoid eye contact with her in an effort to not overexcite her before she sleeps.
Here’s the tough part. You can’t always respond to your baby when she cries. Ford’s method recommends that you leave her to cry for an hour each day, something which isn’t for all parents.
How does it work?
The idea is that your baby should be able to sleep through the night by eight to 10 weeks. Plus, this method allows you to plan your day around your baby’s feeds and naps, giving you time to do whatever you need to or catch up on sleep. It's worth noting however that the NHS recommends starting a routine after three months.
This method is also found to help with crying for some parents. After a few weeks, your baby should only be crying when she’s filled her nappy or isn’t well, so you know how to respond to her tears.
How to manage it
Keep in mind that the routines are strict. You’ll also need your partner on board with the idea – it’s a lot for one person to manage and you will need a break from time to time.
Why is Gina Ford controversial?
Much of Ford's advice goes against NHS guidelines. For example, Ford believes in a structured daytime feeding pattern while the NHS advises that it's fine to feed your baby whenever they are hungry. Ford also says that babies should be put down to sleep in a separate room ASAP while both the NHS and The Lullaby Trust recommends your baby sleeps in the same room as you for the first six months due to the risk of SIDS.
Please note: this is not an endorsement of the Gina Ford method, simply an explanation of the concept. If you are considering the Gina Ford method, we would recommend seeking advice from your midwife or health visitor first.