I bumped into Gina Ford Contented baby book when I was 6 months pregnant and after that read several other books. Now my baby being 11 weeks, I thought I could share my experience and thoughts of several books I have read, so will copy/paste into the sections for those other books as well.
First of all, all babies are really different, so there is no 1 single routine/book that will suit everybody, plus the most important thing it needs to suit the parents. And also parents can make up their own routines to suit their way of life without constantly checking against what suits others. I, obviously, only have experience of my one baby, so surely not all of it will apply to all other babies...
Gina Ford "The New Contented Little Baby Book: The Secret to Calm and Confident Parenting"
I am generally a very organised person and when I read Gina Ford and even heard negative feedback I was extremely positive and thought of implementing the system from the second week (first two to go with the flow). However, not only very quickly I understood that my baby would not follow any of those schedules but also that I did NOT WANT those schedules any more. I only felt stressed every time I tried to follow some advice to put Ada into a routine and nothing worked, so I eventually (around week 5-6) said to myself that I would completely drop all of that as I am a happier person without them, plus my baby seems to be getting into her own pattern by herself. Daddy fully supported both decisions every time and we both agreed that dropping would be better.
By week 8 my little one (LO) started sleeping 6-7 hours straight after her bath, then would wake up for a feed, eat 8-15 minutes and then would get back to sleep for another 4 hours making it a manageable night. Then there are growth spurts, etc but the trend is already clear. She refuses to take a bottle of expressed milk (I am exclusively breastfeeding) and eats too little for a dream feed from a breast so I am not doing it as yet, however I am confident that we will manage to put her to sleep after bath time around 8 pm, then dream feed around 10:30-11 pm and then sleep for the night, we just need to be patient.
So sleep can be handled, what is important is
* to feed a lot during the day, so that your baby is not hungry at night
* have nap times (plus baby brain develops while they are sleeping)
* and for my baby having lots of fun in a bath using exercises from Waterbabies DVD makes her actually tired, she is hungry, eats well and falls asleep for the night
So I am doing the bath time not 5 minutes as per Gina Ford but 15-20 and with exercises, then massaging her already in a calmer environment. Exercises would not suit all parents even though they are proven to be very beneficial for babies' development.
One controversial advice from Gina Ford is to avoid eye contact and not to cuddle your baby. Well, until you become a parent it is difficult to explain what it is to have your baby on your hands, to wish her happiness and wanting to do everything to make her feel better, secure and see her smile in her dreams' Sometimes from week 8 (from the book "Your Baby Week By Week " which is excellent and I will cover it below; and it did happen to us as well) babies can make a small quick cry at night and settle themselves, sometimes they would cry but would not want to eat and would just want a cuddle. So I sometimes around 5 am wake up to my baby crying in her cot in a separate room, pick up in my arms, cuddle for 1 minute and she gets back into her peaceful sleep, and I definitely don't miss a chance to kiss her as well' So avoiding eye contact is just ridiculous, if a baby is not sleepy, there is nothing you can do to make her fall asleep, just like for adults, try to calm her down, feed, caress her face/hair, this all is very soothing and she will eventually get tired but will be a happy baby and you will be a happy parent.
Another thing is a cot. We never had our baby in our bed and wanted to move her to her own room and cot as soon as we felt confident enough, it happened around week 5. I also bought a Samsung video monitor for that (which has a wonderful function of switching off sound and it turns on only when baby cries or makes sudden noise, this is helpful because babies make little noises during their sleep and when you have her in a Moses basket or even cot next to your bed, you will almost certainly not sleep at all). So again, it depends on the parents, some want to have their babies in the same room for many months, for us Gina's advice to move out was definitely a good one. Plus, Ada learned quickly to sleep in there on her own and settle herself at night.
Some thoughts regarding black-outs (putting baby to sleep during the day and at night in a completely black room with no possibility of light to go through). I am sure there will be babies who would not sleep at all with natural or artificial lights on. At the same time I heard a few times that those babies brought up with Gina Ford book struggle to sleep when in unfamiliar environment/at friends' or grandparents where you would not have the same black out conditions. Plus, there is some research that tells that babies need to be exposed to daylight to sleep and develop better. Also, if you start from the beginning, from the first week when babies sleep almost all the time NOT to tip-toe but have them sleep in their Moses basket in the middle of the household activities/TV, then you will have less problems later on as babies get used to sleep with some noise and would not need perfectly calm environment to sleep. Though, we do try to keep it quiet for the time when Ada is falling asleep for the night as sudden sharp noise can wake up anybody'
Also, to wake up or not to wake up a baby? There is some research that baby brain develops while sleeping, plus do YOU like to be awaken by somebody or something, like alarm? Still I will sometimes wake her up if I can see that she has been sleeping for 2.5 hours already and it is getting closer to 6 pm. However, I choose to wait another 10 minutes or so and only wake her up when she is in REM (rapid eye movement, like adults, this is shallow sleep and you can be easily awaken, plus this is when you see your dreams) stage of her dream.
And ensuring that a baby does not sleep more than 3.5 hours during the day is meaningless, as long as your baby gets enough food during the day, she will sleep at night. Also after some activities, like Waterbabies classes (I also go to their classes once a week) babies are literally exhausted so need to sleep more, so she sleeps more during the day (waking up when she is hungry) and more peacefully at night.
Another ridiculous advice is to keep the baby on one breast for 20 minutes, then switch to the second for another 20 minutes. First of all babies make pauses, so sometimes a feed of say 30 minutes can last an hour with some breaks in between. Then, what matters when to switch is not 20 minutes but if you have no more milk left, plus you can try breast compression to increase the flow so baby does not get frustrated/tired of slow flow and this way you ensure to give your baby precious fatter hind milk. But what is more important is that scheduled feeding is the right way if you want to decrease your milk supply and eventually stop. Breasts are never actually emptied and they fill up with milk based on the demands of your LO. So if you put her "on a diet" for an extra hour, then your body will not produce more milk as baby missed a chance to show that she wants more, plus during growth spurts baby can eat as often as every hour, that is not taken into account in the schedules...Again if you formula feed, then there is no problem with breastmilk production.
Also there actually a dangerous advice, again with regards to breastfeeding. Breastfeeding should not hurt if latched on properly but the first week WILL HURT, and when your milk comes in on day 3 and your breasts are ready to explode, the last thing you need to do is to start pumping (as Gina Ford suggests). The least you stimulate the breasts, the less painful it will be, the quicker the adjustment of required amount of milk will take place and you will avoid getting mastitis. (My advice is to get Lansinoh gel from the start, this will help against cracked nipples and makes it less painful to feed...You can express manually just a small but right before feeding your baby, that is fine.)
For those interested to learn more about breastfeeding and get many questions answered, this link is the best I have seen so far (from Canada). [...]
So, I would advise to read it alongside with other books to find out if this is want suits you and your partner, get some basic understanding of possible routine but don't force yourself, your baby will get into a routine without Gina Ford, and it is just nature...
Tracy Hogg "The Baby Whisperer..."
This book is extremely difficult to read and I even never finished it, read half of it and was struggling throughout. There are lots of repetitions, no structure so if you even want to find a specific section, you would struggle.
For my baby girl the routine did not work at all. She learned quickly on her own to settle herself, so I saw no problem with the fact that sometimes she could fall asleep after her feed. Read more ›