The New Contented Little Baby Book cover Gina Ford

Having a second baby, in my case, proved to be a much easier and relaxing experience than the first one. I caught myself thanking God for giving me such an ‘easy going’ baby, but the truth is that the second time I was also different; I was more calm and confident in myself. Besides the priceless experience of raising my first child, I believe that The New Contented Little Baby Book by Gina Ford also played an important role in my freshly improved parenting skills. It wasn’t a life saver to us like the book “Every Child Can Learn How to Sleep” with our first child was (you can read the full book review here: Every child can learn to sleep), but it was still extremely helpful.

Baby-led parenting vs. parent-led parenting

Contrary to the currently prevailing baby-led parenting which, in a nutshell, is all about following your baby’s signals and accommodating its needs; this book promotes putting your baby in a daily routine (i.e. parent-led parenting), possible from day one and is therefore considered somewhat controversial and unpopular these days.

With my first baby I had all the time in the world reserved for him and I didn’t over think it, baby-led parenting just came naturally to me. But with my second child, things started to get a bit different; my older boy still needed my attention and we needed to find common ground. This is why I gave a shot to Gina’s routine, out of hope that it will help us function more easily as a family.

Routine, routine, routine

The book provides series of very clear and concrete instructions that guide you through a typical day, hour by hour, in forming your daily CLB (Contented Little Baby) routines. For example when to feed, when to change the nappy, when and how long daily naps should last, when to take a bath, it even suggest when to play with your baby! This probably sounds a little bit rough and the whole book really is like that, pretty strict and rigid, but there are logical reasons why these routines are structured in a certain way.

The aim of the routines is to structure the feeding and sleeping during the day (while allowing that some babies need more sleep and shorter breaks between feeds) in order to keep night-time wakenings to a minimum and to ensure that once your baby is capable of lasting longer periods between feeds that this happens during the night and not during the day (Ford. G.: The New Contented Little Baby Book, pg 29). A common problem among babies that can easily be averted.

The routine changes as your baby grows accommodating its needs, in the beginning every couple of weeks then later every couple of months and ending by the age one. If you follow all the guidelines, at around seven months old when solids are introduced your baby should be able to sleep through the entire night from 7pm to 7am. Not bad, right?:)

My personal experience

I got this book from a very good friend that was successful using the CLB routine with her child. At first I tried to implement the guidelines when my daughter was 5 weeks old, but it was too hard and stressful. I felt as if the book was smothering my maternal instinct. I mean, I spent more time looking at the clock and reading what the book said I should do next than I did cuddling with my baby. It is one thing to know when to put your baby to sleep according to the CLB routine and another to actually do it. Of course, I couldn’t get my daughter to fall asleep at the right time, so when I woke her up at the suggested time she didn’t get enough sleep and was very nervous during the day. This also happened the next day. You see, everything is subject to the baby and the routine and it is sometimes very hard to stick to it when you have more than one child and nobody to take care of him but you. Long story short, although the book says that it takes some time and hard work to successfully implement the routine; I gave up on the whole thing.

Several weeks later however, I noticed that my baby girl developed her own rhythm; we weren’t awake and playing anymore during the dead of night for hours. I started following the book again, but this time I started thinking of the CLB routine more of as guidelines and not the only true gospel; 15-30 minutes more or less here and there and I didn’t stress so much about it as before and it truly led to my very contented little baby girl.

Priceless advice from Gina Ford

Here are a few golden rules from the “The New Contented Little Baby Book” that I found to be very valuable:

  1. Establishing the right sleep association

Babies steel our hearts from day one. No wonder then, before you know it, that they only want to fall asleep on their mother breasts or while carrying, rocking, singing (you name it; my brother even used a hair dryer to soothe his baby daughter). When babies are in a light sleep phase they get alarmed by anything that has changed since they fell asleep. So it’s crucial to establish the right sleep association to ensure that when your baby is drowsy and you put it in a crib, that it can fall asleep by itself, as suggested in the CLB routine.

I tackled this problem step by step, usually during the day when my baby was calm and contented. The easiest way for my baby girl to fall asleep was while breast feeding. So my first little goal was to soothe her to sleep in any way but that. She soon learned to fell asleep in my hands in the cradle position (similar to the breast feeding position) while gently rocking, soon after without rocking and then finally I started putting her in bed while very sleepy but still awake so as to let her accept the baby crib as the right sleep association. By the time she was 3,5 months old all it took was to cover her with a blanket, give a bedtime kiss and I was out the room. So, in my experience, being patient and persistent can really do wonders here.

  1. Feeding at 10:30pm

The CLB routine changes as your baby grow older, but bed time is always at 7pm, followed by feeding at 10:30pm. The latter was a complete revelation to me.

Before reading the book I would succeed cradling my baby girl at around 9pm. Truth be told, I can’t complain much, she was a promising sleeper and would wake up after 4-5 hours. But the problem was that due to various chores I could never manage to get in bed myself before 11pm so I would be left with only a couple of hours of sleep at best. After that, she would wake up and eat every 2-3 hours.

It probably seems cruel to wake up the little angel. Everyone always says that one simply doesn’t do that. But I decided to try it out and our baby girl took it pretty well; she would be relatively calm the whole time and easily continue sleeping afterwards. After introducing the 10:30pm feeding, I gained 4-5 hours of undisturbed sleep. I felt like I won the lottery :). I had much more energy and was calmer, so basically, it helped me be a better parent.

  1. Structuring daytime sleep

The key to encouraging your baby to sleep well at night is very dependent on what happens during the day. To ensure good night–time sleep for your baby it is essential that you structure the baby’s daytime sleep. (Ford. G.: The New Contented Little Baby Book, pg 81, pg 107). Daytime sleep suggested in the CLB routine changes as your baby grows (see the chart below) and for the first 3 months it is divided into three naps and later into two naps.

Guide to sleep required during the first year


Total hours a sleep a day

Nap time

0-1 months

15,5 – 16 h

5 h

1-2 months

15 h

4 – 4,5 h

2-3 months

14,5 h

3,5 h

3-4 months

14,5 h

3 h

4-6 months

15 h

3 h

6-9 months

14,5 – 15 h

2,5 – 3 h

9-12 months

14,5 – 15 h

2,5 – 3 h

Maybe this sounds very basic and intuitive, but I found out the hard way that it’s easy to forget about this golden rule when it implies waking your baby up while you have so much chores to do. We pretty much stick to the recommended nap times but there are days when my baby girl is a bit nervous, so I let her sleep more and she nevertheless sleeps well at night. Doing this for more than one day in a row results in a poor night’s sleep, believe me, I tried.

Every CLB routine, no matter what age it is referred to, is based on night-time sleep lasting around 12 hours (from 7pm until 7am). Depending if you’re a morning or night person, I think you can easily cut the night-time sleep time and lengthen the daily naps, as long as the overall total of sleep hours per day is not surpassed.

  1. Proper breast feeding

I picked up very helpful advice regarding breast feeding from the book. First, it’s very important to breast feed a baby long enough for it to reach the so called hind milk. Namely, at the beginning of the feed, your baby gets the fore milk, which is high in volume and low in fat. As the feeding progresses, your baby’s sucking will slow down and it will take longer pauses between sucks. This is a sign that it is reaching the hind milk which is at least 3 times fattier than the fore milk. Some babies need up to 30 minutes to reach the hind milk and completely empty the breast. By gently squeezing your nipple between your thumb and forefinger you will be able to check if there is any milk still in the breast. (Ford. G.; The New Contented Little Baby Book, pg 51-53).

Secondly, the CLB routine suggests longer pauses between feeds, from 3 to 4 hours and the hind milk is precisely the key in achieving that. Sometimes it can be hard to make it till the next feed but otherwise our daughter wouldn’t be hungry enough so she would have eaten less and therefore soon be hungry again. Some days I felt like we had spent the entire day on eating, burping and pooping :D. We soon overcome this thanks to Gina’s advice to avoid feeding too often. Also, feeding too often can lead to babies not digesting properly and becoming very colicky (for more info check out our article on Colic).

Lastly, in order to avoid more than one waking during the night, you must fit at least five feeds before midnight (Ford. G.; The New Contented Little Baby Book, pg 112).

I presented only the 4 golden rules, but I would like to point out that there’s also a lot of other very concrete and useful advice in the book on various other subjects (for ex. burping, dummies, teething and illness and their effect on sleep, solids, returning to work…). They are more or less all well explained and when you understand the logic behind them you can easily take Gina’s advice as guidelines and adopt them to best suit you and your baby.

All in all

To sum up, the book is all about routine, routine, routine… and consistency. The entire day is completely planed out so you could feel constrained and even guilty if you wish to change something even once and do something else. But it doesn’t have to be like that! Our experience suggests that the most important thing is to establish a few basics and in doing so your baby will be contented in various situations and times.

I personally believe that a child’s personality manifests very early but also that the role of the parent is significant as well and can steer the child in a direction. Maybe the greatest asset I took away from this book was the lesson that your actions matter from day one.

In the end, I would like to point out that this book is really cheap and contains numerous advice, even those that could prove useful to parents not interested in parent led parenting; if you use only one or two of these it would be worth it.

We hope you find this review useful, please share your thoughts and experience with us.

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