more than one way to raise a child

Gina Ford for 0-6 month olds

Gina Ford for 0-6 month olds

This is the second in a series of posts about Gina Ford – you can read the first one here. A short recap from the first post: Gina Ford is a controversial ‘sleep trainer’ in the UK that advocates for a routine approach to feeding and sleeping. My husband and I used a Gina Ford approach from when The Girl was 15 days old (eek!) and it’s worked for us – she slept through from about 4 months and it’s been AMAZING to be able to plan things I need to do during the day based on when I know she’ll be awake / asleep. So, here’s my top tips for starting out with Gina Ford and my reflections on: How did first 6 months go for us? What did it feel like? What did the routines look like?

Tops tips for this stage:

  • Create notecards that summarise the routine for that stage so that you can see it at a glance without having to flip through the book
  • Make sure you read chapters 3, 4 and 5 before implementing any of her routines
  • Definitely don’t start until the baby is up to their birth way (in retrospect we would have waited until The Girl was at least a month or a month and a half)
  • Keep the book out so that you can flip through it to troubleshoot any sleeping / feeding problems

How did the 0-6 months go for us? What did it feel like?

In The New Contented Little Baby Book, Gina Ford advises to feed every 4 hours and not start her routines until the baby is back up to birth weight. For us, that took 15 days so between 0-15 days old I breastfed her every 4 hours religiously. From day 16 (and due to my husband’s prompting) we started trying to implement the 1-2 week old routine. For about a week, it was hell. It was WAY too early to start the routine and The Girl was having none of it. It hit a peak when we were visiting my in-laws and I spent 3 hours trying to get her asleep in the evening. Once she was down, I was exhausted, emotional and felt like the routine just wasn’t working for us. I told my husband I didn’t want to do it anymore for various reasons and he agreed.

Literally, the next day, The Girl fell into the routine. Woke up at 7, started getting tired around 8:30/9, slept for one hour waking up naturally. It was such a lesson in not trying too hard to make your kid do anything! From that point onward, we kept The Girl on Gina Ford’s routines.

I was very self conscious about sharing with my other mum friends, including Em, that we were using Gina Ford. For several weeks when we’d arrange coffee or play dates I’d make sure the timings worked for The Girl’s nap and milk times. I wouldn’t say I was comfortable sharing or talking about it until The Girl was about 3 months.

From the perspective of The Girl, it was great – she knew when she was going to sleep and eat consistently every single day.

Up until 4 months old I was feeding her in the evenings at 5, 6:30, 10 and 2:30 am. At 4 months, my husband’s insistent “The books say she can sleep through from 3 months old, why isn’t she?!” led me to do ONE NIGHT of controlled crying in replace of the 2:30 am feed – she cried for 20 minutes but not solid, with several minutes break in between. From that point she has slept through the night, despite teething, being ill or being knocked out of the routine. Which is incredible, I realise and something I’m thankful for daily – once I started sleeping through the night I started to feel like me again.

There’s a common theme in this story – my husband’s support (although it was a bit of a push!) encouraged me to take the next step in the Gina Ford process and trust that Gina and The Girl knew what they were doing. Each time they were right, The Girl needed something and I was too stuck in the previous routine to notice. Which is another reason why, as I mentioned in the first Gina Ford post, it really does take the guess work out of parenting which for me was such a blessing because of how sleep deprived and traumatic those first few months can be.

What did her routines look like?

Chapter 6-12 of the The New Contented Little Baby Book lay out each routine in detail. And yes, I did say 6 chapters worth of content to read for the first 6 months. It’s a lot – that’s why I suggested making notecards!

The Girl’s routine changed 6 times in the first 6 months of her life. Which sounds absolutely crazy! But honestly it was a natural progression. I found that Gina Ford’s routine adapted to the natural sleep and eating cycles she was going through.

Generally, the routine looked like this, with slight variations in timings throughout the six months:

Feed: 7 am, 10 am, 11:30 am, 2 pm, 5 pm, 6:15 pm, 10:30 and whenever they wake up in the night.
Nap: 8:30-10:00 am, 11:30-2, 4-5 pm, down for the evening at 7 pm
Expressing: 6:45 am, 10:30 am and 9:30 pm

Wow – even when I write that I’m impressed I was even able to do that and get anything else done in between! It get so much easier when they are one year old!

I don’t want to go into too much more detail as there is so much available in the book and I don’t want to bore you. Until the next post in this series….let me know on the comments or Instagram if you have any questions I can answer in the meantime!

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