Monday, 16 September 2013

In praise of Gina

Gina Ford's Contented Little Baby Book is a Marmite book. Parents either love it or hate it. I suspect, however, that the haters haven't given it a proper try.

When my daughter was pregnant with triplets, someone gave her a copy. How we laughed! Oh, we knew all about baby care; after all, I'd had four, and she'd had plenty of experience looking after other people's babies. Gina was put firmly away.

Fast forward to a few weeks after the babies' births. Exhausted mother, screaming babies; bedlam. She reached for Gina, and within a week, she had her evenings back. I won't say all went swimingly from then on - swimmingly isn't something that happens with triplets - but her life was much improved.

Since then, I've had five more grandchildren; all are 'Gina' babies. Daughters-in-law have joined my daughter and are great Gina fans. Okay, so some of her ideas seem a bit extreme (for example, 'no eye contact' when putting the baby down to sleep), but the strict routine really works. Our newest addition is already on the regime, and when I texted my son this morning to ask how their night had been, he replied: "Excellent...Slept from 9.30 to 2.30 then 3.30 to 7. Love Gina!" The baby is just six days old (and was delivered a week early).

I cast my mind back to my baby days;  long nights of screaming (me as well) and exhausted days. Living with a small person permanently stuffed up my jumper/shirt feeding yet again. I remember sitting with baby no.1 in the middle of the night, desperately consulting Dr. Spock, and trying to absorb such gems as "perhaps he has a safety pin sticking into him" (hardly); "maybe he's hungry" (you think I hadn't thought of that?), "perhaps he has colic" (in which case, what do you suggest?).

And the advice? "Use this wakeful time to take baby for a walk in his pram". What a brilliant idea!  We lived out in the country. It was midnight, and the middle of winter.

Where, oh where, was Gina when I needed her?


  1. I could definitely have done with Gina's advice for my first baby. Your memories have brought those terrible, endless nights flooding back. A friend once spotted me in Sainsbury's and told me later that she didn't come over and say hello. I looked too frighteningly tired to recognise her, let alone hold a conversation.

    I shall remember this book if I'm ever lucky enough to be a grandparent. So glad it's all going so well with Theodore. x

    1. Joanna,,the problem is getting new parents to take it seriously!

  2. Babies sound like hard work.

  3. I'm going to be a granddad in January so this looks like an excellent Christmas present for my son & daughter-in-law.

  4. Haven't heard of Gina, Frances - but I think my son and d-in-law got their first baby (born last May) into a good routine anyway!