Thursday, April 12, 2007

Who is Gina Ford?

Like a lot of good things in life, I discovered Gina Ford and her childcare method through a negative write-up on her based on partiality and misunderstanding.

Ms Ford is one of the most prominent childcare experts in the UK; she trained and worked as a maternity nurse for over a decade before turning childcare expert and writer of popular childcare books. While her books have been translated into four languages and she has personally chalked up considerable wealth through book sales, her recommendations to new parents on how to establish a successful sleeping and feeding routine is none short of controversial.

The screening of Gina Ford: Who Are You To Tell Us? on television in the UK has caused the BBC a lot of flack from parents who have used their common sense in following the recommendations outlined in Ms Ford’s books to raise happy, contented babies and toddlers who feed and sleep well routinely.

Having observed closely how various parents raise their children at a range of ages in different cultures and most importantly how these children are developing into pre-schoolers and beyond, I am firmly rooting for a sensible yet loving routine.

The greatest barrier I've come across so far, especially when talking to Argentines, is that whenever the word routine and children are mentioned in the same breath, the quick "shoot-down" response is almost always that children are to be enjoyed; and that's the end of the importance of a healthy routine for growing children.

I wholeheartedly agree that children are indeed enjoyable and I cannot foresee any reason why I wouldn't enjoy my child as I already enjoy others'. However, it is important to remind ourselves as parents that we are guardians of a human being, not an entertainment system. I am also positive that if children have a routine which leads them to sleep and feed well, they are even more enjoyable in their waking hours. That's just good commonsense - we, adults learn, work and play better when we are healthy and have had a good night's sleep why should children be any different?

What is different, however, is that children need more hours of sleep and it takes them longer to wind down enough to fall asleep. Hence, taking children out to dinners and parties until way beyond mid-night may not take a toll on the adults but certainly does more harm than good to the children in the long run.

I'm sure I'll look up Ms. Ford's books when I get back to Sydney for my 3rd trimester but her official website Contented Baby provides a very helpful start on her philosophy and methodology.

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