Contented Little Baby?!
If you are a new mother (or an experienced mother..) you may well recognise this title as that of the world-renowned Gina Ford’s controversial book. I say ‘controversial’ because it has been in our house.
The premise of the book (as I understand it) is that a baby likes routine and that from the moment they spend their first night at home, the parents are to encourage a pattern throughout the daytime and nighttime. Gina suggests routines for every baby, from newborn to many-month-olds. I was very skeptical. She famously doesn’t have children of her own, so how could she know how to look after a baby?! We didn’t really establish a proper routine as such with Reuben; we were parents who were feeding on demand and going with the flow. When a mum in our antenatal group began implementing aspects of Gina’s routines into her 8 week old daughter’s days and nights, I was interested. For her, it pretty much worked. I just consoled myself with thoughts that, ‘Reuben just wouldn’t be able to follow to it that strictly.’ Then I was handed a photocopy of some pages from Gina’s book via one of my mum’s work colleagues. She apparently swore by the book, and such was her conviction in the power of Gina that she bought The Contented Little Baby Book for all her friends who were becoming new mums.
When I looked at the schedule for the 3-4 month old, I was a little stunned. In a good way. Although we hadn’t been following Gina’s routines, Reuben’s patterns were already very similar to those suggested by Nurse Ford: he was napping between 9 and 10 am and again later in the afternoon, and already had his bedtime routine already instituted between 6 and 7pm. Admittedly, Reuben isn’t napping for for the 2 hours suggested by Gina at midday – he’s never been a lengthy nap sleeper since early days, and we’re struggling at the moment to get him to sleep for longer. However, our attempts to do this have been made more successful to having a bit of routine to them, and for the first time yesterday, Reuben slept for 55 uninterrupted minutes!
So, although we can’t stick rigidly to Gina’s strict routines (Reuben won’t let us..), I have come to believe in the powerful notion of routine and predictability for a baby to understand what is happening and what they need to expect – for example, with our repeated patterns and cues before putting Reuben to sleep means that he’s resisting it less and sleeping for longer!
And when he’s not sleeping, he’s either eating or pooing (mostly). And the best way of dealing with a soiled nappy is to wash it…: