Oliver James - Research Request
Dear Oliver James,
In your latest book you are quoted in The Times as saying "There is a great deal of evidence that very strict routines do not lead to so-called contented babies.... There is also good evidence that strict sleep routines do lead to more insecure, and to more irritable and fussy babies".
In both The Times and The Telegraph newspapers this weekend, this was perceived to be an attack on the methods of our founder and best-selling author Gina Ford. Gina Ford's book, The New Contented Little Baby Book, first published in 1999, continues to be the number one best selling baby-care book in the UK. Miss Ford’s book was the first to specifically move away from the old-fashioned, strict, four-hourly feeding and sleeping routines, which restricted feeds for young babies during the night. In The New Contented Little Baby Book, Gina Ford suggests eight routines for the first year, to ensure that a baby's ever-changing needs are met in full. Within each routine she also gives advice on how parents can adapt the routines to meet the individual needs of their baby. Parents who follow the CLB routines learn to understand and meet the sleeping and feeding needs of their babies very quickly and, consequently, crying is kept to a minimum.
Strict sleeping routines, or 'controlled crying', have never been part of Gina Ford's advice for young babies. On page 38 of The New Contented Little Baby Book Gina Ford says " I would never advise that young babies should be left to cry for lengthy periods to get themselves to sleep". On page 34 she says, "of course, all babies must be fed if they are hungry; no baby should be left to cry for a feed or kept to a strict timetable if he is genuinely hungry". Given that the CLB routines are not about trying to fit every baby into the same routine, and that parents who are following the Gina Ford methods do not leave their babies to cry at night, can you please clarify whose advice you had in mind when you suggested that strict sleep routines lead to insecure and irritable babies?
Gina Ford has worked tirelessly for nearly twenty years guiding parents on how to gently and effectively meet all of their baby’s needs through her tried, tested and adaptable routines. In the process, she has encouraged parents to understand that old-fashioned, strict routines do not work for young babies.
We would, therefore, be grateful if you could also send us specific details of the research that supports your claim that very strict routines lead to more insecure, irritable and fussy babies. Like you, we are totally committed to the well-being of babies and young children, and would be pleased to publish details of this research on our website in the hope of it reaching any parents who may, with the best intentions, be following out-dated methods.
The Contented Baby Team