There’s no doubt that the advice of Gina Ford tends to divide parents. Some of her methods are considered controversial but there’s no denying that thousands of parents have found that the former maternity nurse and her bestselling books have helped them get their baby into a good sleep routine.
How it works: Gina advocates a parent-led routine, where the day is broken down into small time periods. Each slot has an activity allocated to it, to ensure that your baby gets enough food, exercise, sleep and play and is then ready for sleep at bedtime. Some people find the routine too strict, while others find her hour-by-hour plans invaluable in bringing some calm and structure to the early days as a parent – you always know exactly what you’re meant to be doing, and when.
There are ten routines to follow that take you from birth to 12 months. Follow it to the letter and many parents find that their ‘Gina baby’ is sleeping through the night from a few weeks old (Gina says this is possible from as early as eight to 12 weeks) but if you haven’t followed the plan from birth and got into difficulties with sleep, it’s not too late.
Gina’s Contented Little Baby book also discusses various methods you can use to get a baby with real sleep problems back on track.
Might suit parents who: love routine and crave a little order in the chaotic, newborn period.
Might not suit parents who: don’t want to follow a routine to the letter. The plans work for some but you have to stick to them. If each day is very different for you and you need lots of flexibility, this may not be the best sleep routine for you.
Best age to try it at: it’s best if you can start from birth but you can pick up the Gina Ford method at any time during the first year and find a plan suitable for your child.
Cara says: “I used the basic structure of Gina’s routine to give my daughter's day more of a routine. I didn’t follow it to the letter but still found it very helpful in just giving my day more order (as it doesn’t come naturally to me).”
Mums say: ‘We used Gina’s book with our son, Luca. The routines gave us a good structure and definitely helped Luca sleep through from a young age – he’d cracked it by 11 weeks old. I had to return to work when Luca was four months old, so it was vital that we were all getting a good night’s sleep and it was great to be able to give our child carers routines to follow that we knew worked.” Nikki, mum to Luca, 21 months.
Some helpful additional reading:
Not keen on the Gina Ford method? Try Tizzie Hall's Save Our Sleep Method
Our baby sleep experts offer good advice for your little one
Not yet decided on a sleep plan? Read about which plan might be best for you and your family