The Complete Sleep Guide
by Gina Ford
A baby who’s always rocked, fed or given a dummy to get to sleep is more likely to wake during the night, long after the age when they need a feed to get them through the night, says maternity nurse Gina Ford in The Complete Sleep Guide. Ford’s sleep guide is based on developing a structured 7am to 7pm routine over the first seven weeks. Another pillar is to teach your baby to go to sleep in their own bed unassisted. A cuddle, rock, feed and dummy routine is fine for the first few weeks, she says, but if used after 8-12 weeks, they will wake during the night. She suggests keeping a sleeping log, so as to allow for a 10-15 minute wind-down period. If falling asleep on the breast or bottle, rouse the child slightly before putting in cot so they know they are going to bed. If fed and winded – few babies need burping more than once during a feed and at the end, she says – and ready they should go off in 5-10 minutes. Ford says babies of six to seven weeks should be able to sleep for 7 hours after their last feed, and warns that if baby gets used to waking during night this habit won’t disappear before about three. Contented, growing babies over six weeks and 4.5kg+ feeding less at night can be encouraged to reduce the number of nighttime feeds or give up the 2am feed by patting, a dummy or a sip of cool boiled water, quiet reassurance. Make sure the last feed is substantial and you don’t try to cut the middle of the night feed in one go. If you feed during the night at 9 months, according to Ford your child won’t eat during day. If your baby needs cry-it-out sleep training, get a check-up with your doctor first and your health visitor. Commit to 2 weeks. Don’t do it if your baby is ill, not growing well, or there are stresses in the house. Crying it out for babies up to six months should take 10-30 minutes. Bath, feed well, ready, put down and settle. Allow 10 minutes before going back in if it’s hard to ignore crying. Reassure with a soothing touch or quiet voice for a couple of minutes but don’t pick up. Then wait 10-15 minutes before returning.
real parents say
“In the first six months after my first child was born I struggled to settle her. She had a tendency to fight sleep and didn’t naturally fall into a routine in the way that my second child did. After trying different sleep strategies a friend recommended I read Gina Ford’s book as she had found the routines good. I was then warned off Gina Ford by a nurse who felt her methods were too rigid, but after no success with any other strategy, I tried following a Gina Ford routine. I found it helpful as it gave me a guideline of how much sleep my daughter needed during the day and at night, and roughly when she should be sleeping and awake. The main thing about Gina Ford is that she has set times for sleeps and encourages you to wake your child after they’ve had the amount set for each nap. This is so they stay on track throughout the day and don’t oversleep, which could ultimately delay their bedtime. Not everyone thinks that waking a child from their sleep is right thing to do, but it worked for my child after nothing else did.” Tina, mum of two, Auckland