Heralded as a parenting expert in the nineties, Gina Ford’s brand of parenting struck a chord with millions of women across the country hoping to juggle busy lifestyles and hectic work schedules. Her now infamous advice, which included allowing your baby to cry his or herself to sleep at night, was followed religiously in the hope that it might allow parents the chance to have some hold on their fast disappearing way of life before their children came into the world.
And now, it seems, science is decrying what many thought to be sound advice. The Mindful Policy Group’s Twitter account sent out a tweet yesterday morning which read “Gina Ford is wrong – never leave babies to cry, says latest neuroscience.” Whilst we have asked the Group to share the report from which this assertion stems, we need not look very far to see established research in this area.
Do a quick google on the topic and thousands of entries come up from scientists, baby experts, psychiatrists, and mothers, all of whom warn against what we feel strongly is inhuman and cruel training techniques surrounding ‘crying control’. And whilst there are schools of thought out there which say this technique shows no evidence of harm (rather than providing evidence of this – a subtle distinction but one worth making), you only need to observe a baby crying to know prolonging this state in a child isn’t right.
Crying is nature’s way of ensuring parents know something is wrong with their baby. In most cases it’s either the need to be held, fed or an indication that a child is unwell. And whilst there is an understandable need to get a good night’s sleep, allowing a child to cry itself to sleep, and grow despondent about ever getting the help it needs so that he or she no longer cries at night, is, to our mind, counter-productive.
Here at Researching Reform, we affectionately call Gina Ford, The Anti-Christ. Her brand of self-centered, part time parenting, which seeks to place children in convenient time slots in our lives is a depressing indication of how far away we have moved from understanding the power and beauty of instinct in parenting.
If you want a good night’s sleep, place your baby in your arms and cherish every moment.