Gina VS Newborn – A first time mother’s experience of using Gina Ford’s routine in the first 2 months.

A friend of mine, whose baby is 2 weeks younger than Annabelle is trying the Gina routine, read on to hear how she’s getting on…

I am writing this at 6.46pm with a large glass of wine in front of me. It’s the first chunk of time I have had to myself all day and I am LOVING IT! My 8-week-old son is upstairs and down for the evening and I am celebrating! This is the second night in a row that I have successfully settled him on time and without any control crying. It seems Gina has come up trumps…tonight anyway.

My husband and I were keen to try the Gina Ford routine with our baby as both of my sisters are advocates and have used it successfully with all three of my nieces and nephews. They are all adorable, well-behaved children who are all in a great routine and are testament to the effectiveness of her ‘strict regime’.

So at 20 weeks pregnant, ignoring the negative press that has surrounded Gina Ford ever since she came on the scene, we ordered her book ‘The contented little baby’ in order to study her routine and get ahead before our little one entered the world.

I was vaguely aware of the ‘Gina day’ already and how her routines work from talking to my sisters but at first glance I found the regimented timings hard to take in and fairly daunting. This was mainly because I did not understand or fully comprehend how much time babies take up and wasn’t convinced that I needed my day to be so structured and full of ‘baby time’. How naive I was.

After my senses begun to return and I had started to put the trauma of birth behind me, we reached for Gina in order to obtain some structure and routine with in our lives and try to make sense of our newborn son. It was all going ok for a couple of weeks and I really thought we were cracking it. However, since I began to write this piece a week or two has gone by and I have come to the conclusion that for now my son cannot and will not be coaxed into a routine, not his own and certainly not Gina’s. I am pretty sure that diehard Gina fans and Gina herself will now be tutting right about now and declaring that I am talking nonsense and that every baby can find a routine of some kind, but I am genuinely struggling to see any correlation between one day and the next when it comes to my baby.

Every day seems to be different at the moment and I cannot predict one day to the next and to tell you the truth I have given up trying on the advise of my doctor! Our feed times for example are very different to the ones laid out by Gina because my son likes little and often when it comes to feeding. For those of you who are familiar with the Gina routine you will know that she is quite strict about allowing your baby to have more milk after certain times in the day because it will put them off their next feed, this does not seem to be the case with our son so I disregard that.

Each day I start out stubbornly sticking to the daily Gina timetable but 9 times out of 10 it’s out of the window by 8am. Gina’s routine starts at 7am, with a feed and a kick on the play mat and general awake time until 9am when he can go down for a 30-45 minute nap only so as not to ruin the lunchtime nap. Having woken at 6.30am literally gagging for his morning feed, my boy is knackered again by 8am and can’t keep his eyes open and must be put to bed. My boy can easily sleep for an hour at this nap from 8-9am. I have tried to keep him awake so as not to mess up the timetable but its impossible! One day early on, I even tried blasting Ibiza Club Anthems 2009 at him but still he kept his eyes firmly closed! So now having woken at 9am he is hungry by 9.30 and tired again by 11am and literally falling asleep in my arms. If we were to go by Gina’s timetable he wouldn’t go down for his lunchtime nap until 11.45-12noon and so it goes on. Then the next day will be completely different; yesterday for instance he was asleep at 10.30am and didn’t wake until 2pm!!!

It’s not a complete disaster though and I should just point out that we do seem to have a good routine set out in the evening that is consistent and follows Gina’s timetable so that is a blessing.

For those of you who want to follow the Gina Ford routine and are experiencing similar problems, my best advise would be to go with the flow and simply extract bits of the routine that work for you. Don’t take it too seriously in the first few weeks and use it as more of a guide, steering you towards what you should be trying to achieve in the day, sleep and feed wise. A few people keep saying to me ‘It’s no wonder you can’t get your baby into a routine at this stage, he is so tiny still and learning how to live, a mammoth task that is best left for a baby to do at his own pace.’ Some days I agree with them but then I think about my friends who have had help from a maternity nurse and who have had their babies in a routine from week 2! It’s a tough one but for my own sanity I have to go with the flow for now and be happy to use Gina’s routine as a rough guide, extracting the elements that work for me and my baby and hope that one day we will crack a full Gina day but if not then it certainly won’t be the end of the world.