Mention 'Gina Ford' and everyone has an opinion. Some people swear by her routines. Some have tried it and found it impossible to keep up with. Others have simply heard about her by reputation from the media and made a wry smile when earnest mothers say 'we're doing Gina Ford...' She's reviled, adored, sent up on 'Ab Fab', so what does the book actually say?
The 'routine' starts at least three months before you give birth, because girl, you sure have to do your homework! It certainly is good to be prepared well in advance, and Gina does not leave anything to chance. She lists the furniture, bedding, equipment and clothes that you will need to prepare the nursery. This section gives good common-sense advice on what to and what not to buy. I agree with most of her comments, although I still think changing stations are a waste of money, but we'll have to agree to disagree on that one.
There is plenty of advice on how you will feel after the birth and most of this is pretty standard fare for a baby care book. Then the routines kick in, and they start from day one. Gina's first radical suggestion is that you should immediately start expressing breast milk straight away, if you are breastfeeding, to increase milk supply and help get into the routine more easily. This is of course quite contrary to the 'received wisdom' but since I started expressing much sooner than six weeks myself and felt it helped me breastfeed longer, I think she also has a point there.
I approached the book expecting to be shocked by its strict routines and to be honest some of it is mind-bogglingly strict, and specified down to the last quarter hour. The proscribed routines for feeding and napping would, I think be almost impossible to keep up with alone during the day. I also think that with a grizzly, clingy baby it would need an iron will to leave them crying for a long time just because Gina says it was their nap time.
So how should you use this book? Read it to provide a framework to build your routine on, but like most of us your 'routine' will be a combination of you fitting around the baby's habits as you gently mould their day into yours.
Routine really does make parenting easier, and Gina has captured the zeitgeist with her book. Just don't take it too seriously, OK?