The Contented Royal Baby: Gina Ford on how to bring up Prince George

On raising a royal baby

27 July 2013

9:00 AM

27 July 2013

9:00 AM

I was delighted to hear that the Duchess of Cambridge had a healthy baby boy. The build-up to the royal birth during the last week has been phenomenal. Even my tiny ‘Contented Little Baby’ office has been affected by the birth of our future king — our email inbox is getting fuller by the day with inquiries from interested mothers about how I think the royal baby should be brought up — so much so that we have had to allocate a file called ‘Baby Cambridge’!

The majority of emails ask what advice I would give the Duchess to help her through the early weeks of motherhood. The truth is that I personally don’t think that the royal couple will need much advice from outsiders, myself included. Couples who have been together as long as William and Kate will usually have decided on how they want to rear their firstborn. I would imagine that they will have observed, with great interest, those of their friends who already have children and weighed up the pro and cons of different parenting methods. It is also clear that Kate and her mother have a very close bond, and that she will look for advice and support from her parents Carole and Michael Middleton, who have, from all appearances, successfully created a very loving and stable family life for their three children.

If reports in the press are true, Kate will spend some of the time after the birth at her family home and I really do hope that is the case. New parents who have a close family bond and support of grandparents generally get off to a better start, avoiding the sheer exhaustion that sleepless nights can bring.

Of the many challenges new parents face, I think that establishing breastfeeding can be the most difficult. There is so much confusing and conflicting advice on whether to feed on demand or try to establish a routine. An article in the Daily Mail this week by Claire Cisotti, who also gave birth to her son at the Lindo Wing in St Mary’s Hospital, said that ‘introducing a routine with my baby hasn’t just helped me raise confident, happy children, but has also helped make us a happy, united family’. Claire was advised by the Lindo Wing to feed her son for 15 minutes from each breast every three hours. She claims that ‘this old-fashioned routine worked like a charm. He fed easily and slept beautifully.’

I have no idea whether Kate will take the feed on-demand approach or try to establish a routine. Should she choose to ‘feed on demand’, I only hope that she doesn’t take the advice too literally. My issue with the term ‘feeding on demand’ is that many newborn babies do not always demand to be fed at regular intervals in the day, and as a result may wake up every couple of hours to feed in the night, very quickly leaving a new mother tearful and exhausted. My advice has always been to offer a newborn baby a feed every three hours. Should a baby need to feed before this then of course they should be fed, but I try to find out why the baby is not going a couple of hours between feeds. Often it is the positioning that is wrong and I recommend that all new mothers seek advice from a good breastfeeding counsellor. In Kate’s situation, she could do no better than seek guidance from Clare Byam Cook, a leading breastfeeding counsellor, who not only has an amazing success rate, but will be the soul of discretion.

My tips for Kate — or any new mother — are as follows:

— Get expert advice from a recommended breastfeeding counsellor about how to latch your baby on. Do not let your baby go more than three hours between feeds, the three hours being from the beginning of one feed to the beginning of the next feed.

— Do not allow the baby to become overtired. By the second or third week most babies can stay awake an hour or so, but longer than this can lead to a baby becoming fractious and refusing to settle.

— Keep visitors to the minimum during the first couple of weeks. Allow enough time to get used to your new baby and being parents.

— Do not skip meals: try to eat three healthy meals a day and have regular nutritious snacks and lots of fluids.

— Take advantage of any help that is offered and try to get as much rest as possible during the first couple of weeks.

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

Gina Ford is the author of The New Contented Little Baby Book and founder of www.contentedbaby.com

You might disagree with half of it, but you’ll enjoy reading all of it. Try your first 10 weeks for just $10

Show comments
  • sunnydayrider

    Can’t wait for Pippa’s new book on the subject, published by “The Speccy” of course.

  • Monica Victor

    DO NOT follow this woman’s advice if you plan to actually breastfeed your baby. Breastfeeding on demand is VITAL not only for baby to and momma to learn feeding cues, but also for momma’s breasts to learn how much milk to make. At this vital time prolactin receptor sites are being primed and the more that are primed the more milk making capacity momma has! Your baby WILL eventually learn that night is for sleep, but infants need to eat night and day particularly in the early few weeks. Please DO NOT follow this woman’s advice!

    • Joy Hofer

      Did you even read or understand her article? She did not say not to feed on demand, she merely suggested that some babies do not signal easily. My child was very content to go much longer between feeds. I had to be mindful as the Mum and not let him go longer than 2-2 1/2 hours. Her advice is very sound and intentional. Use your mind as well.

      • Rowan Hewitt-baker

        are you mental? seriously?? suggestions can be very powerful to a mum on the edge. none of advice is sound and certainly not well intended

    • Rowan Hewitt-baker

      I totally agree darling xx

  • Sarah Liakopoulos

    I agree with Monica do not listen to this woman if you are or intend to breastfeed. Demand feeding is the only way. trust your baby and trust yourself.

  • Rowan Hewitt-baker

    KILL!!! KILL WITH FIRE!!!!!! yeah because a divorcee with no kids knows loads about babies right? she implies that a baby who needs fed more regularly than every 3 hours must have something wrong with it which i bet would lead a lot of tired stressed mums to turn to formula thinking there was something wrong with their breast milk. hate this woman and her evil ways so much!! well done for photo shopping her horns out btw 😉 I wish people would stop seeing babies as an inconvenience to mould into a routine to fit around your life it’s the other way round!!!

    • Rob Williamson

      WOW ! If only the article was as interesting as the comments – I thought the Spectator website had been hijacked by the Daily Mail or ‘OK’.
      Bravo !!!

      • FrancesBacon

        hi rob. Without wanting to sound unkind, it is easy for a reader without experience of feeding a newborn to be baffled and entertained by the strength of views on this subject. Before I had children, I had no idea how complex and difficult simply feeding a baby could be. As with giving birth, no amount of research prepares new mothers for the realities of breastfeeding. People get passionate about the subject. But I think it’s a bit off to suggest any discussion about breastfeeding should be confined to OK magazine etc. Now, the recent “diary entries” from Puppa Muddleton would be better suited to those publications. But there’s no reason why the Spectator can’t dabble in some pop biology.

        • FrancesBacon

          But I do agree the blatant death threat above is alarming. Perhaps they go waaay back.

  • Common Sense

    Surely: following a routine is vital for most! Otherwise, where will you be a year or two down the road? A total stressed mess! Also, your child will pick up on this and reflect it back to you – what a nightmare! I personally didn’t like this womans book: her routines were a little bit OCD for me. However, I did take the hospital’s advice and feed my twins every three hours. I quickly established routines that were a compromise between their natural patterns and my need to rest and prepare for the next feed. I have found personally routine to be vital to mental and physical well-being for both myself and my children. In between routine feeding and sleeping, you have total freedom to really engage and enjoy your kids. I have to say I see other mother’s who are still up half the night with their toddler who doesn’t sleep etc. and I feel really sorry for them. Establishing a routine early on is a pain, but it will be a lot harder work in the long run if you don’t.

    • mel

      I have twins too and establishing a routine is absoluetly crucial for retaining sanity with 2 newborns! I didn’t lije Ford’s strict ideas though, read some Babywhisperer and then wrote everything down and figured it out myself. my 2 year old girls were very contented and happy babies sleepimg through 10 and 14 weeks old respectively which helped me get enough energy to tackle the full on day shifts :-)) do what works for you i say.

    • singingsoprano

      every 3 hours is too long for most exclusively breastfed newborn babies, and too long for most breastfeeding mothers to establish milk-supply.

  • Common Sense

    Why wouldn’t you follow your own routine? Ask yourself where you will be a year or two down the line: a total stressed mess! Children pick up on everything, and so will reflect this back to you – what a nightmare! In-between routine eating and sleeping: you then have time to really enjoy your kids. A routine can be a compromise between their natural patterns and your need to rest and prepare for the next feed. All you have to do is stick to any changes you make as your baby grows – so easy and so vital!

  • LordLiverpool

    who gives a shit what some woman thinks about how someone elses child should be raised?

    go get a real job!

    and eat less pies!

  • FrancesBacon

    Mind you, this is a great plug for Ford’s book – already an international best seller. But I threw my copy across the room countless times. It was essentially unhelpful. It reads like a computer manual. For a human. In the end I negotiated an entirely new way of thinking when it came to rearing my children. Those babies beat me into submission, bless them. Everyone is different. No book holds the answer. But the promise of a contented baby sure sells.

  • Ooh for once I agree with some of her words “Get expert advice… “, I hope she means a proper qualified one who gives evidence based advice that works with a baby’s physiology and brain development, not a self proclaimed one.

  • Nele Scheers

    This article should be called: “How to sabotage mum’s milk production”. This woman does not know how breastfeeding works, that’s very clear. It’s a ‘supply and demand’ system. The more the baby nurses, the more milk a mom will have. Especially during the first hours/days this is crucial, as it will determine whether a mom activates enough glandular tissue to be able to breastfeed for a long time. If the baby doesn’t latch on at least every 2 hours in the beginning, learning to pump by hand and feeding colostrum on a spoon will do the trick. If your breasts aren’t encouraged often enough to make more milk, you will end up suddenly ‘not having enough’ when baby is 6 weeks old or 3 or 4 months old, depending on how often you nursed in the beginning. Up until the age of 6 months, babies should nurse 8 to 12 times every 24 hours.

  • mum of 3

    i am appualed at some of this advice, as a mother of three a registerd health care professional working with new mums and trained in breast feeding she is setting up mothers to fail !. breast fed babys need to be fed on demand its not unusual for them to feed hrly in the first few days and weeks , they have very small tummies and breast milk is easily digested trying to make them go longer will result in a very hungry over tired baby something you want to avoid , it will also affect mothers milk supply as its supply and demand as gina should know if she has attended the unicef baby friendly training which i only hope she has if she is selling books with breast feeding advice in them ???
    i would also add that when my second was born i did not have the luxury of staying with my parents who have also raised 4 children , my husband returned to work 4 days later and i coped with a new born and 2 year old i soon established a routine i even managed to eat three meals a day albeit maybe not home cooked and i didn’t end up with pnd nor problems bonding with my children thankyou very much the exhaustion comes with parent hood and its for such a short time in a parents life i look back on those days now with longing . the advice from the lindo wing i only hope has been updated and i sincerely hope they do not advise alcohol when bf at night now days as its not advised at all.
    i am quite sure that mrs ford advice comes from being a parent and figuring out the minefield that is parent hood and has made her fully qualified to offer to new parents because untill you have been there you are no way an expert and can not tell new mothers how to raise there children and even then your not really an expert as what works for one family wont work for the other

  • Debra Woods

    DO NOT follow this woman’s advice regarding breastfeeding every 3 hours. She states, “My advice has always been to offer a newborn baby a feed every three
    hours. Should a baby need to feed before this then of course they should
    be fed, but I try to find out why the baby is not going a couple of
    hours between feeds.’
    Many newborns cannot go 3 hours in between feeds. Their stomachs are the size of a chick pea at birth, then become cherry sized, then walnut sized. Breastmilk is the perfect food, being digested easily, so frequent feeds are needed. There is nothing wrong when a baby needs to cluster feed for example, or be at the breast more often. And hello – breastfeeding is not just about nutrition!!!!!!!!! A large part of breastfeeding is about comfort, bonding, feeling secure, soothed and babies need this as much as food.

    Breastfeeding is baby led, not on a schedule, not timed, not do one breast for 15 and then the other… etc.. Babies know what they need and how often and how much. And they need feedings particularly at night time.

    This advice is incorrect regarding timed feeds. It does not mean, as she implies, that there is something wrong ‘when a baby is not going a couple of hours between feeds.’

    Some of her other advice is sound, but not about this aspect.

  • Laura Earle

    First she says feeding on demand is bad and will result in the baby needing to eat every couple hours. Then she says to create a routine and feed the baby every three hours so the parents can get good sleep. Then back to feeding the baby more ofyen than every three if the baby needs it, but definitely don’t do it on-demand. ???

  • Lucinda

    Has this woman ever breastfed a baby? I think not. The idea that every baby (and mothers breasts) are the same is ludicrous. Really following her advice is one way to make sure breastfeeding doesn’t succeed.

  • indira lopez-bassols

    Dear Miss Ford:

    I have two questions for you. Why fix something when it is not broken? And why intrude when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have clearly asked for private time?

    They seem to have started their parenting journey on the right foot anyway. Doing what humans have done for millennia that is before parenting training manuals were even invented. They have been taken into the immediate family nucleus, Kate’s parents, to be nurtured, fed and pampered. This is the way “the art of parenting” has been transferred from family to family, from mother to daughter since the start of the human race.

    So fingers crossed, lets all wish them well and instead rejoice since they will not be needing your services nor anybody else’s Miss Ford. They did manage to conceive with no help so lets hope they can parent in the same fashion. That is with the privacy they deserve and the loving support from their families, hopefully they will be able to find their own parenting style in tune with their baby’s need.

    God bless the royal baby and his parents!

  • Rachel

    Clare Byam Cook is not a breastfeeding counsellor and her “advice” is just as damaging as Gina Ford’s.

  • Kate El Idrissi

    Far out love, you really have no idea how to bring up a baby, babies who are breast fed should be fed on demand! That’s the cue to say I am hungry, I need something, please help me! You are seriously bring yourself some very bad karma for the advice you give to unsuspecting parents! Any mother who breast feeds, does so on demand and IS NOT making a rod for her back or any of the other crap you sprout!

  • This is not parenting — it’s child abuse!

  • Denise

    No no no. This woman’s advice is terrible. I am a Breastfeeding peer supporter and as others have said feed on demand. A baby and a mothers body need to get in tune as the baby is signalling to the mum’s body when to make milk by putting in his order for his next feed at his current feed. He will feed lots if he wants to get her supply up, especially as his appetite increases or if he is going through a growth spurt. Each time it will take mum and baby time to adjust and that’s exactly what feeding on demand does, lets them do this-as the lady who trained me said it is now being called feeding by need, not on demand because the baby is telling the mum’s body what he/she needs. I am a mum who has breastfed 2 children and I am still feeding my second daughter at 19 months.
    There’s a reason babies feed more at night too, because prolactin levels are higher and therefore it is important to feed them to keep up supply. Biologically it was also to make sure mum was with baby and woken regularly to protect baby from predators and passing away in his/her sleep. Also many studies have shown that the hormones produced by mum and that baby gets at night mean Breastfeeding mums go to sleep more quickly and get the same sleep as mums feeding formula.
    This last always gives such poor advice and Clare Byam Cook too. Please Breastfeeding mums seek out your nearest Breastfeeding group, counsellor or IBLC. Contact the NCT, La Leche or ABM for details xx

  • Denise

    Plus the fact babies have very small stomachs x

  • oh sighs….for a start advice SUCKS especially if not asked for. Then the ignorance of the breastfeeding DYAD is plain to see here..I buy GF books all the time. I get them in the charity shops they make great fire starting paper. Save the world one book at a time I say. 😉

  • Anneke

    lack of proper feeds cause failure to thrive in babies and later on eating disorders. Perhaps this seems familiar to Miss Ford. Just an observation. You may not think some of this advice is bad but the rest about leaving new borns to cry in rooms of their own is also appalling treatment of any human. Many grown ups where trained by her book and suffer because of her. Shes out to make a quick buck and using the Royal baby to do so. Pretty low thing to do. Wouldnt be so bad if your advice wasnt so against nature and damaging to parents and babies. Her breastfeeding advice is scary! I bet she eats on demand. Basic human eating rule you eat when hungry or you have problems. Dont we have enough obesity in the feast or famine diets that starts from her books? Its time you went back in to hiding Gina.

  • Kathryn

    Is Clare Byam Cook a qualified breastfeeding counsellor? Because I was under the impression that she wasn’t.

  • Frank P

    Would any baby suck anything offered by the woman whose cruel face is depicted above? Scary!

  • kirsty peacock

    dear gina,
    my baby boy is fed on demand, and has been for three whole months…
    and shock horror, he is both happy AND healthy. he.wakes once or twice in the night…but i don’t mind because unlike you i don’t see babies as a pain to be bent and scared to fit in with a routine.
    also, i know three other BF babies that are fed on demand, and they are all happy AND healthy. i know two that follow your advice, and they scream until they are sick, they are losing weight and are anything BUT contented.
    stop abusing the next generation. babies are beautiful, confused, scared little creatures that need love and food, not routine and denial.

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    At odds of one-thousand-to-one, I did think “Dodi” was worth a punt.

  • Anne Greaves

    Oh dear god, heaven forbid a baby would *gasp* WAKE IN THE NIGHT! Don’t they KNOW they are not important? Just a slight nuisance to be trained and bent to your will, to fit in with your pre pregnancy lifestyle?! Feed them to a routine – if they cry and cry in hunger, leave them to cry it out, they’ll learn soon enough that their basic needs aren’t to be met until the clock says so, thank you very much.

  • shocking advise. from a mom breastfeeding a 10 month old and still going strong all i would say is listen to your baby and your instincts. my son is a big boy and still feeds a couple of times a night and it’s lovely. I wouldn’t change it for anything. Ofcourse 8 hours of sleep at a stretch sounds inviting but it will happen some day.

  • vanligjente

    I do hope if Kate should read this that she completely ignores you Gina. You are a disgrace.