The Contented Little Baby Book by Gina Ford

Weekly Trip to the Library

I work as a nanny and the parents I currently work for are using The New Contented Little Baby Book by Gina Ford to develop routines and a sleep schedule with their infant.

I am a Dr. Karp The Happiest Baby on the Block enthusiast. I love his gentle methods of making a baby calm and comfortable in their first three-months. I love swaddling the infant, saying “shush,” and swinging her to make her comfortable.

The biggest controversy about Gina Ford’s methods is that one of the UK’s leading baby authorities, Dr. Penelope Leach, says babies left to cry at night can suffer from brain damage. Gina Ford’s stance that a few minutes of crying by an infant isn’t abusive and babies need to cry a little to learn to settle themselves to sleep (rather than be parented to sleep). A study Penelope Leach refers to states that the level of cortisol is increased if the baby is left to cry. It is a stress hormone, which according to Leach, may damage the brain of the baby.

In defense of Gina Ford, the study says babies left to cry for 30-minutes or more are at risk and we have never allowed the baby to cry for more than 10-minutes at a time. I never read in her book to let a baby cry for half-an-hour.

Another “hot topic” is that Gina Ford explains if you can avoid using a pacifier constantly, that’s one less habit to break when a child becomes dependant on the “binky.” While Dr. Karp explains sucking is a natural reflex and does it matter whether a baby sucks a breast nipple, bottle nipple, finger, or pacifier?

Also, new studies prove that sucking a pacifier every time an infant is laid to rest reduces Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

It’s unclear why pacifiers offer protection from SIDS, but studies have found that babies who use pacifiers at sleep time are less likely to die of SIDS by 90%! The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends pacifiers, for sleep times only, as one way to help reduce the risk of SIDS.

The AAP statement says that “the reduced risk of SIDS associated with pacifier use is compelling” so “until the evidence dictate otherwise” babies should be offered a pacifier at nap time and night time. If the baby is breastfed, the pacifier should be introduced at one-month of age. One thing that’s important to keep in mind is that the pacifier shouldn’t be forced. If the baby doesn’t take it – just let it be.

So, what does a nanny who loves gentle methods of infant sleep approaches who works for a family that follows a strict method? Always follow the parent’s directions and incorporate both methods in helping the infant sleep. We follow Gina Ford’s schedule and methods of developing routines. We also use Dr. Karp’s methods to soothe the baby if she is upset or before taking a nap, or going to sleep. We simply make sure the infant is in her crib sleepy, but still awake, so she can learn to fall asleep on her own.

By following Gina Ford’s schedules, at six-weeks the baby I care for started sleeping through the night and at three-months she now averages nine-hours of sleep per night before needed her morning feeding.

What are your thoughts? Do you prefer a gentle or strict infant sleep method?

You can purchase a copy of the book by clicking the links below:

The New Contented Little Baby Book: The Secret to Calm and Confident Parenting


  1. I strongly disagree with making a newborn cry. I am proud of the fact I can plan ahead knowing when they should be tired or hungry and be able to give them their bottle even before they cry. I have read dozens and dozens of articles that don't think it's good to allow a newborn to even have to cry. You should know when it's time to eat, have the bottle warmed and ready to go second they wake up. No crying necessary. CRUEL TO A NEWBORN TO LET IT CRY IT OUT. Barbaric!Terry

  2. I think some of her advice is cold hearted. Nothiung better than holding a warm, content, fed, sleeping baby. The rigid routinue scares the life out of me. It's simply unnatural to allow infants to cry.

  3. I work as a nanny and have used the Gina Ford method and love it. She tells you to never ever let the baby go hungry! She never withholds cuddles or comfort. The main point is to make sure the baby is well fed and sleeping well for decent lenghts of time (hopefully 2 hours between feeds from the begining). The rest is just personal choice. I love very structured routine it isn t suitable for every baby especially if a baby is premature or has other special health needs. Petria

  4. i have worked with children for 15+ years and i hate this womans name. my first rule is throw the book away, it is very rigged

  5. The SIDS fact about sucking a paci is just amazing. I heard it from my boss's pediatrician so it's valid. Three month old babies don't get addicted to pacifiers, they suck to live. Now that pacifiers help reduce SIDS but many and use them often.

  6. I hate the tone of her book. So arrogant. Have you read her website? She's both defensive and aggressive at times. My mom boss mentioned it was because she's in England and in US we aren't used to that tone. That is just nuts, I hate the tone, too rigid, too self righteous, and only could possibly work for the most perfect babies (no special needs and such).

  7. A baby who is well otherwise, will only cry for three reasons to which you need to respond. They cry bevcause they are hungry, they cry because they are too hot or too cold, and they cry because something is sticking them or they are bound so tight that a hand, foot, arm or leg is twisted. Irresponsible, self -proclaimed "experts" like Penelope Leach who feel qualified to spout biased opinion as fact do no one any favors. The last thing many parents need is an unfounded guilt trip laid on them to further complicate and increase tension that might already be in the house.Larry Orlando

  8. I am starting to think that any extreme is a problem. And, you can follow any approach you want but if the kids wants to eat or sleep he's got to do it and we can't try to convince a baby otherwise. You travel, the kid gets sick, something changes a little bit and the schedule gets all out of whack and you have to start back at zero all over again. I don't think any nanny was ever fired for rocking a child or feeding a child off of schedule. Always better advice to nurture and spoil a child than to seem neglectful in anyway. I think that's why Gina Ford hasn't caught on in America.

  9. Crying is a sign of distress. I could not sit in another room and listen to a child cry and do nothing. Children need to feel loved and secure, not upset and abandoned. Instinct tell us how to raise babies. If you rely solely on a controversial book you are crazy. No way an infant is manipulative! People volunteer to hold babies in hospitals and in orphaniges. There is no such thing as spoiling an infant.Heather, Chicago

  10. There is a difference between a distress cry and a "I'm tired" cry. When truly in distress Gina Ford does not suggest you ignore the baby. I have used the book as a guide (not a Bible) and some good points are made. She does not suggest abusing or neglecting a baby! But her tone is condescending at best and makes it offensive to Americans.Maria Lopez, Miami FL

  11. At least Dr Leach has kids! It is not an opinion but a fact that it’s potentially damaging to leave babies to cry!

  12. My own philosophy is nobody raises their kids right but most parents raise their children well enough. Mistakes abound throughout the child-raising years but the kids are rather difficult to break. It’s funny that the Penelope Leachs and Gina Fords of the world seem to think they’ve made earth shattering discoveries. It seems to me that most of their infancy time it’s hit and miss with parents just muddling their way through. It’s messy, exhausting, and sublimely unique to each family.Dana

  13. I also have worked as a nanny for families who insisted on the Gina Ford routine, so I think I know the book fairly well.No where in the book does she advise that babies should be ignored and left to cry. There are also nine routines in the book, each one with details on how to adapt the routine to the individual baby's needs. So I think that to say it is rigid is simply untrue.The routines in the book are all about putting the babies needs first, and anyone with any intelligence who reads it properly will see that.At the end of the day parents should feel free to choose how they bring their babies up, whatever way they choose.If as a nanny you do not like the advice Gina Ford gives – fine. But as a proffesional it is dissapointing to read the delibrate misrepresentation by some posters

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