My feed

to access all these features

For free parenting resources please check out the Early Years Alliance's Family Corner.


Is the Gina Ford regime actually possible?

99 replies

Sam29 · 11/01/2003 10:59

Bought The Contented Baby Book last weekend thinking that it would suit me as a first time mum to be who knows nothing at all about babies...... got to the section where she sets out daily routines and was terrified to death! Is this actually possible? Do you ever get to leave the house? Whilst I like the philosophy of getting baby into some kind of routine I'm not sure whether structuring every minute of every day is something that is humanly possible!
Anyone done this and survived?

OP posts:
SoupDragon · 11/01/2003 11:12

There are lots of Mumsnetters who have made this work and lots who are very much against it!

For me, there wasn't a hope in hell of it working as it simply would not have fitted into my life.

I think the key seems to be to realise that the routines are flexible and you can adapt them to fit more into your life.

Be prepared for some fairly heated replies to this

Sam29 · 11/01/2003 11:14

Yes, did think I would probably reignite the discussions that I remember seeing when I first started visiting mumsnet! Oops........

OP posts:
LizC · 11/01/2003 11:23

Hi Sam29 - I felt the same as you reading Gina Ford. I felt before I had my dd, that I wanted to try some kind of routine for my baby - in particular I wanted a baby that would go to bed at a decent time in the evening, so that I had some time to myself, so I liked the sound of her theories and they seemed to make sense. However, when I ready the daily routines my heart just sank! In reality I just tried to make her routines fit into my life - I kept dipping in and out of the book to see what she recommended and then tried to make it fit in. I didn't want to not be able to leave the house to go to a mums group because it was nap time, so dd slept in the car or in her car seat at people's houses etc. and I just adapted things to suit me and experimented with what did and didn't work. I think that, as Soupdragon says, you can be more flexible than Gina Ford implies, while still using her ideas.

susanmt · 11/01/2003 11:44

Gina Ford's routines did not work for me or my family - in fact they were very destructive. But that was just me, some people seem to have great success with the routines.
For me, flexibility was the key, and we managed to create a flexible routine which worked for us by following what our children wanted. Gina Ford is not the only way to routines, we have a basic plan for the day with eating and sleeping at regular times for both my children, and they are both in bed by 7.45 or so each evening, giving us plenty time to ourselves after that. We just don't live by any routine to the exclusion of everything else, and have flexible, happy children who we can take anywhere and do anything with -within reason. At New Year we even had a middle of the night ferry crossing, which ds slept through but dd thought was the most exciting thing she had ever done!
You have to decide for yourself, but I personally didn't find the routines in her book suited me or my children.

Scatterbrain · 11/01/2003 12:10

Done it, survived - loved it - got out plenty - definitely possible but don't need total inflexibility !

Go for it if it suits - if not bin book !!

sueanna · 11/01/2003 12:49

I didn't find out about the 'book' until after 6 weeks.... 6 weeks of my little dd sleeping all day and eating all night... exhausting. Within 3 days of doing the routine, she was sleeping from 10pm until 7am and has done so for the last 12 weeks - maybe I'm just lucky, but I think it works, especially as I was a mum who didn't know much about what to do (obviously!!) either.
I think it also depends on the child, some like routines and some don't. There's no harm giving it a go.

GeorginaA · 11/01/2003 13:05

I quite successfully used the Gina Ford routines but I did "mix and match" with more flexible ideas out of "The Babywhisperer" by Tracy Hogg and ideas from other mums at the time. In particular, before I started (I started at 4 or 5 weeks I think) my ds was only getting 12 hours sleep a day rather than the 16 he needed - and I just couldn't tell whether he was hungry, tired, or something else. Think of them as "sample routines" of what a typical baby of that age needs if you prefer... it helped me get a feel for whether his grumpiness was probably because he was knackered!

Out of my mum and baby group about half of us used Gina Ford routines with varying degrees of flexibility and would all recommend it. For me I felt it actually gave me more freedom as I knew when I would get some "time off" and for how long which kept me going on the really tough days.

I think the key point is, are you someone who likes routine in your own life? If you don't, Gina Ford probably will not be good for you and your family. If you do, give it a try, but don't feel you have to get them to do everything by the nearest second.

prufrock · 11/01/2003 15:41

Yes it's possible - but it's not the only way, and the key is to use it rather than become a slave to it. Only stick to it as long as it helps.

Onadowner · 11/01/2003 19:39

GeorginaA, nice to know someone else used the Tracy Hogg book with GF as well as me!

Sam29, sorry to be predictable, but I will echo the same as everyone else - the key is to be flexible.

Fit the routines around your life.

I think the problem with GF is that she states (or implies) that unless you follow the book to the letter then you would have problems, which can be quite a powerful influence on a first time mother.

I'd say give it a go and if it does not work or you find it too traumatic, forget it and do what works for you.

anais · 11/01/2003 21:48

My personal advice would be to put the book aside and give yourself and your baby the chance to get to know each other and find your own routine.

I have never used GF and I'm very anti. I have two children, my first had colic badly for the first 3 months and was very difficult. When we got the colic sorted he started sleeping through the night and has done since 4 months. My second is nearly 2 and still not sleeping through the night. At the end of the day kids are different and there is not one cure all answer.

Just follow your heart and give yourselves a chance. Best wishes

Jimjams · 11/01/2003 22:26

I'm not very pro GF. DS1 was born before the book, but would probably have fitted into one of her routines quite easily. I'm not sure I would have. DS2- no way! He's a totally different child and needs me a lot more than DS1 did.

The main reason I don't like GF is because my cousin + dp have followed her to the letter and it has totally taken over thier lives. They miss loads of things because "it would interfere with the baby's routine", and their whole day is totally structured. I couldn't cope with that at all!

If I was you, I'd read it, extract the bits I liked (and my baby liked) and otherwise do what felt right. I'm turning into a bit of a continuum mum in my old age- if you want to ready the opposite of GF read the continuum concept- it's interesting reading!

At the end of the day my advise is do what works for you.

tiktok · 12/01/2003 12:41

I'm mystified by you GF fans, I have to say!! Her book says you have to follow it exactly, and indeed, she says that when people tell her the routines don't work, it's invariably because they haven't followed it strictly enough!!

If you're being flexible, and mixing and matching with other ideas, and picking out what you find useful and discarding the bits you don't, and following what your baby and you seem to prefer, then you're not following GF, you're using your own common why give GF the credit for it???

Enid · 12/01/2003 13:37

I followed GF to the letter with dd1 and sure enough, she slept through the night from a very early age, and was pretty happy and contented. But I found the routines so inflexible and hated missing out on 'life', so I decided not to bother with dd2 (now 12 weeks). She goes to bed at 7, I wake her around 10/11 ish (so thats quite 'Gina' I suppose) then she usually wakes again once before 7am. This morning she slept in until 8.30am, and so did I, it was bliss! Yesterday we went shopping and she slept in the car, all the way round the shops and back in the car. We kept her up late to make up for all the sleep she'd had in the day - its just common sense isnt it??

I also let her feed herself to sleep, and let her sleep in my arms, and pretty much feed her on demand - and she's a lovely contented baby. Maybe if she was difficult or if things get hard I might bother with more of a structure, but for now I love being able to take her anywhere and everywhere without stressing about naptimes/feedtimes etc.

In fact, the day I did do the 'GF' routine with her she woke TWICE in the night from hunger - something she never does normally!

mckenzie · 12/01/2003 14:03

Hi Sam29,
I think that GeorginaA has made a great comment. "If you like routine if YOUR life, then Gina Ford might well work for you". I was always a very organised, in control person and so I think that following the routine suggested by Gina Ford helped me, and therefore my son, enormously. I did follow it quite strictly for quite some months (although I personally didn;t find it restrictive, quite the opposite infact) and then once my ds and I were quite naturally in the routine, then I relaxed a bit.
I'll probably horrify a few mums out there by saying this and get a few sniggers from others but I can remember when DS was about 3 months old taking him to meet the girls that i used to work with. He woke from his lunchtime nap, which he'd had in his pushchair rather than his cot, and was a little bit itchy. My friend, seeing that I had a bottle of milk with me suggested that he might be hungry and why didn't I feed him. "But" said I "it's only 2.25pm and I don't feed him until 2.30".

When i look back on how strict I was I love at myself but hindsight is such a marvelous thing and who's to say my DS would be such a happy lttle soul now, and such a very good sleeper, If I hadn't been so strict.

While I would never try and persuade anyone to follow GF I do, if asked, credit her guidance for helping me on the inital rung of the motherhood ladder. For some people that ladder is hardly leaning higher than the floor and for others it's a steep as Everest; if you start the GF thing Sam29, you'll soon know if it's for you and your child. Good luck whatever you decide and sorry for this rambling boring message. Had a few glasses at wine with my lunch and I think I've got a bit carried away!

SoupDragon · 12/01/2003 17:40

One thing to bear in mind is how early you start. I believe that a number of NCT breastfeeding counsellors despise the book as in their opinion it interferes with establishing breastfeeding. As I understand it, they say that since bf works on supply and demand, it's better to feed on demand in the early weeks.

I'm not sure of the ins and outs of their opinions etc, this is just something I read elsewhere.

Lindy · 12/01/2003 19:58

I think Tiktok's made a good point, like many others I enjoyed GF's book and used a lot of information from it but certainly did not follow it 'to the minute' - yet I always 'side with' the pro-GF debates ....... maybe to differentiate from the totally 'laissez faire' approach .... not sure why really .. perhaps we need the 'Common Sense' description. (But then everyone's idea of common sense is so different!?)

Claireandrich · 12/01/2003 20:09

I thought this too when I read it before DD was born (now 9 months). There was no way I could have followed it. My life wasn't routine before she was born so there wasn't any chance we would be afterwards! And it isn't. We do very different things on different days which would make a fixed nap or meal time impossible. The old rountine we have is bedtime, which we sorted out with DD in our way and at our own pace.

You have to do what suits you best. I didn't feel that I wanted someone else to tell me what to do. I wanted to figure it out myself and make, and learn from, my own mistakes. Our muddling through has worked fantastically well for us - for others it would be a nightmare. If you fancy it, give it a try. If it works, great. If it doesn't, bin the book.

Good luck.

susanmt · 12/01/2003 20:13

I think something which people forget is that there are other ways to routines that aren't following the GF book. I have already said I use routines with my children, in a relaxed fashion, but they hardly resemble the ones in the CLBB. Just because you don't like her routines doesn't mean you are totally haphazard. We just have our own structure to the day, which suits all of us (and yes that includes me!)

Sam29 · 12/01/2003 20:41

Thanks for all of those. Glad I am not alone in assuming that it is either an "all or nothing" regime. Think we will start off with trying the routines and see how we all cope! As some of you have said I think the thing that concerns me most is not being able to attend mum / baby groups or anything else that might help to keep me sane for fear that I will miss one of the crucial 15 minute deadlines that seem to make up GF baby's days! Have also bought "Babies" by the same bloke who has written "Toddler Taming" as it's style seems a little more humouous and a little less alarmist!

OP posts:
hmb · 12/01/2003 21:03

We used 'Babies' with Dd and Ds, and it worked very well. Used 'TT' later on. We have a routine to the day, but it isn't set in stone, and suits us just fine. Never read GF so can't comment either way.

aloha · 12/01/2003 21:34

I remember reading GF before ds was born and was so shocked at the idea of being up and about before 7am and feeding at 11pm.... duh! after he was born the idea of ds being asleep for five straight hours was an impossible dream! He took nearly eight months to sleep through in the end. However - I really valued the total flexibility of those early months with no real routine. I was on maternity leave and just loved it. Meeting friends for long lunches on the Kings Road, wandering round the Tate Modern, having lunch by myself in Cafe Rouge, shopping - fantastic. Breastfeeding in the car/park/Peter Jones etc etc. I would have gone quite, quite mad if I'd been confined to the house GF style. However, I later did use a few gf things such as taking her tips on naptimes - ie two hours after waking and after lunch and ds seems to fit into quite well now, and I will happily miss an event if it means I can have a couple of hours in the afternoon to potter and get a few things done.

eemie · 13/01/2003 11:57

sueanna - my dd slept all day and fed all night for six weeks too. I was getting progressively more exhausted, nearly at the end of my tether.

Then she suddenly turned herself around, not in three days but one. My dh called it 'The Long Day's Journey into Night of the Living Dead'. She simply fed all night AND THEN all day AS WELL until I was on the phone begging dh to come home from work and save me.

As soon as I handed her over to him and went to bed, she slept all night, waking only for a quick feed at midnight. After that she was a model sleeper.

I'd never heard of GF then. I did make nights different from days - quiet, minimal lighting, no music or chatting - but dd did the rest. Not sure what my point is really. Maybe GF made all the difference in your case, but coincidence could also explain it. Most babies take 4-6 weeks to get the hang of night/day.

sueanna · 13/01/2003 19:11

eemie - you could be right....I'm just a little reluctant to change my current routine and let her do as she pleases incase it starts all over again.
I've only managed to get my dd to sleep the 7-10pm slot twice so far... seems like a common problem, and she doesn't know whether she wants to be awake or not. Any ideas? Today I reduced her morning nap to see if that made a difference, and tonight she's a bit of a nightmare...hmmm!

Crunchie · 14/01/2003 09:29

Sam29. I think as a first time mum GF seems daunting, but if you are totally unsure on everything from how much to feed and how much sleep they need then GF can give you those basics. I didn't use GF as my first baby was in hospital for many weeks and she had a strict routine when she came home that we just followed. Feeding every four hours was the most important thing, even if I had to wake her (which I didn't often). However becasue of this ingrained routine when No2 came along I had no idea how o cope, so read GF and a lot made sense - I think she is one of the only people that explains if a baby hasn't had enough sleep in the day, they won't sleep well at night. This remains so true with my nearly 2 year old who dropped her nap, and then we got her to take it back again. I had no idea that if they don't sleep well in the day, they will be over tired and won't sleep better/longer at night, so I credit GF for explaining that. The whole rigid routine thing, not for me. But an evening routine, now that made real sense and it meant my babies (well one 2 yr old at the time) were both in bed by 7 ish, I could relax until I went to bed, do one last 10.30ish feed and only get one wake in the night very quickly.

I found like everyone that flexibility was key, and yes I know she doesn't say that in the book, but it is very good for basics for a first time mum, to give an indication of routine. I would say go for it, but be relaxed

Enid · 14/01/2003 09:31

sam29, how old is your baby?

Please create an account

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.