Penelope Leach - Crying Babies
It has been reported in some sections of the media that Gina Ford is 'at war' with Dr Penelope Leach: 'Britain's baby gurus go to war'. This is not the case. We would like to clarify that Gina Ford has no wish to be involved in any public argument or debate with Dr Penelope Leach on the subject of crying babies or, indeed, on any other issue. Gina Ford has always accepted that there are many different views on the subject of childcare, and Dr Leach's views are only one voice.
The Contented Baby philosophy ensures that, from the beginning, a baby's needs are met so completely that crying is kept to a minimum. 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".
The only situation where Gina Ford advises a parent to allow a short spell of 'crying down' (around five to ten minutes) is with the small minority of babies who become so over-tired that they cannot settle themselves to sleep. This method is also recommended by some leading childcare sleep experts.
We would also like to clarify that 'controlled crying' forms no part of the CLB routines. In The Complete Sleep Guide for Contented Babies and Toddlers, Gina Ford stresses that, "Sleep training and controlled crying is always a last resort to get an older baby to sleep during the night and should only ever be used once parents are absolutely sure that the baby is not waking up because he is hungry. I also advise that before commencing sleep training you should take your baby to see the GP to check there are no medical problems".
Gina Ford's knowledge and expertise comes from having worked with over 300 families, helping to care for their babies around the clock. With this extensive, hands-on experience, she has been able to study the sleeping patterns of literally hundreds of babies. This personal experience enabled her to develop a set of routines to assist babies to establish healthy feeding and sleeping patterns, becoming contented little babies in the process. These routines change many times during the first year of a baby's life. It is a complete myth that the CLB routines are about trying to fit every baby into the same routine. The advice given includes guidance and suggestions on how to adapt each routine to suit an individual baby's needs.
The parents who follow the Gina Ford philosophy come from many different backgrounds, but all are loving and caring and put the needs of their baby above all else. It is a gross misrepresentation to suggest, as some reports in the media have done, that followers of Contented Baby elect to put their own requirements before that of their babies. On the contrary, CLB followers have combined Gina Ford's advice with their own knowledge, common sense and instinct, to respond comprehensively to their babies needs. It is through the compassionate understanding of a baby's needs that crying and distress will be reduced; and it is good parenting that ensures a baby does not become over-tired, so that he settles to sleep well, without tears.
Gina Ford respects that there are many different approaches to parenting; she has written her books for those parents who wish to establish and follow routines. It is always recognised that some people will disagree with her approach, as they are entitled to do. But, when a difference of opinion turns into wilful misrepresentation of the CLB methods or harmful propaganda linked to unsubstantiated scientific claims, these critics might consider that they are not only denouncing the reputation of Gina Ford; more significantly, they are also attacking the childcare choices of many thousands of dedicated and decent families.