27 Oct 2012

Clockwork baby?

I have started to attempt getting Pippa into some sort of proper routine.  For those of you in the know I realise that these next two words will prompt a strong reaction, one way or another,  we have been following.....Gina Ford! Now,  I do not wish to start any sort of debate, discussion or slanging match (as I have so often seen on forums and at coffee mornings when "She who must not be named" is mentioned),  I am purely writing from our personal experience to date and from my own perspective.

For those who don't know, Gina Ford is the author of 'The Contented Little Baby" series of books and has been associated with a relatively hard line approach to getting your baby into a routine. 

When reading "Gina" during my pregnancy every page I read seemed to be, on the whole, very rational, logical and most importantly they provided a pathway to the holy grail that is a full nights' sleep.  Also you are given the ability to predict when feeding and sleeping ought to happen (in theory!):  therefore hopefully not getting caught short, either having to whip the boob out in the public loo's at Sainsbury's or contend with evil or accusing glares during a baby meltdown in a nice restaurant! Whilst I do believe that the routines and advice in her books are very advantageous for your baby I think the main benefits to having a "Gina baby" are for the parents and family.  It is all about gently manipulating your baby's natural rhythms and bodyclock to a more sociable and predictable timetable.  

Mid-feed milk coma....a constant battle to wake
her to finish the feed!

I know many babies and families who thrive on routine, however there are many others who prefer to go down the 'baby led' route and let the little one determine all eating and sleeping times.  Whilst I thoroughly agree that tiny babies just need to eat and sleep as their body dictates in the early days,  I personally think there has to come a time when they're lovingly shown the difference between night and day, if only for the parents' sanity!!  

And again........

But whatever your stance, Gina certainly provides adequate debate material, with some mothers looking to her as an idol and others rushing to the nearest bonfire on which to toss her tome.  I think previous editions of her book were indeed very inflexible with little information on what to do if, shock horror, your little darling dared stray from the timetable.  However the latest edition, in my humble opinion, seems to provide much more help on how to make the routines work for you and tips on what to do if your child wakes too late or too early or wants to feed for 8 hours on the trot or appears to be on hunger strike. 

Rufus standing guard during nap time. 

But back to us....!  I started to gently introduce some of the key concepts, such as a set morning and bedtime routine, around week 3 with Pippa.  To be honest, that first night when we settled her to sleep at 7pm, after a bath and feed, and then realised that we should in theory have the next 3 hours to ourselves to have a civilised supper and watch some trash on the tv, without having to pause it every 10 minutes, was bliss! It was also a very surreal and 'wrong' feeling....after weeks of being at the mercy of your daughters' every whim and tummy grumble it certainly feels very alien to suddenly have such a block of time to yourself. But it was certainly something I could get used to.  Naturally, husband and I spent the whole time sneaking upstairs to check on her every 5 minutes, slightly defeating the object, but nevermind!!

Passed out during a theoretical 'tummy-time' session. Hmmm.

Since then we have, more or less, got into a good routine for the mornings and evenings (7am and 7pm) and Pippa seems to naturally follow it herself.  What happens in the two sets of 12 hours in between is a whole different story!! I just treat each day as a clean slate to start again, but stay flexible and certainly don't beat myself up if she sleeps through an allocated feed time or if I have to add in an extra feed here and there. 

Yeyy, she's awake!!

I'd love to say that she is already sleeping through the night but alas she is not.  Although she does normally wake just once between 11pm and 7am so I can cope with that! As I said, I am flexible on the timings and am happy if it takes longer than Gina suggests to fit into the prescribed routine for her age, however I shan't deny that when we manage to stick to it by the book, even just for one day, makes me feel ridiculously smug and satisfied!! 

Wide awake during a walk with the Baby Bjorn.....a foolproof
way of guaranteeing she'll go to sleep. Yep. Not so much!

We shall plug on with good old Gina.  I think she has her place and is going to be invaluable for our family. Maybe we are just the types who need structure and order or maybe we are just selfish beings who are just gagging for the ability to have time to ourselves occasionally and maintain some semblance of a social life!? All I know is that Pippa is the most important factor to consider in this and she seems happy, so what else matters really?! 

Happy Pippa!  

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