Weekly Trip to the Library for Nannies and Au Pairs
I work as a nanny and the parents that currently have hired me to care for their children are using The Contented Little Baby Book, by Gina Ford to develop routines and a sleep schedule with their infant.
I am a Dr. Karp Happiest Baby on the Block enthusiast. I love his gentle methods of making a baby calm and comfortable in their first three-months. I love swaddling the infant, saying “shush,” and swinging her to make her comfortable.
The biggest controversy about Gina Ford’s methods is that one of the UK's leading baby authorities, Dr. Penelope Leach, says babies left to cry at night can suffer from brain damage. Gina Ford’s stance that a few minutes of crying by an infant isn’t abusive and babies need to cry a little to learn to settle themselves to sleep (rather than be parented to sleep). A study Penelope Leach refers to states that the level of cortisol is increased if the baby is left to cry. It is a stress hormone, which according to Leach, may damage the brain of the baby.
In defense of Gina Ford, the study says babies left to cry for 30-minutes or more are at risk and we have never allowed the baby to cry for more than 10-minutes at a time. I never read in her book to let a baby cry for half-an-hour.
Another “hot topic” is that Gina Ford explains if you can avoid using a pacifier constantly, that’s one less habit to break when a child becomes dependant on the “binky.” While Dr. Karp explains sucking is a natural reflex and does it matter whether a baby sucks a breast nipple, bottle nipple, finger, or pacifier?
Also, new studies prove that sucking a pacifier every time an infant is laid to rest reduces Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
It’s unclear why pacifiers offer protection from SIDS, but studies have found that babies who use pacifiers at sleep time are less likely to die of SIDS by 90%! The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends pacifiers, for sleep times only, as one way to help reduce the risk of SIDS.
The AAP statement says that “the reduced risk of SIDS associated with pacifier use is compelling” so “until the evidence dictate otherwise” babies should be offered a pacifier at nap time and night time. If the baby is breastfed, the pacifier should be introduced at one-month of age. One thing that’s important to keep in mind is that the pacifier shouldn’t be forced. If the baby doesn’t take it – just let it be.
So, what does a nanny who loves gentle methods of infant sleep approaches who works for a family that follows a strict method? Always follow the parent’s directions and incorporate both methods in helping the infant sleep. We follow Gina Ford’s schedule and methods of developing routines. We also use Dr. Karp’s methods to soothe the baby if she is upset or before taking a nap, or going to sleep. We simply make sure the infant is in her crib sleepy, but still awake, so she can learn to fall asleep on her own.
By following Gina Ford’s schedules, at six-weeks the baby I care for started sleeping through the night and at three-months she now averages nine-hours of sleep per night before needed her morning feeding.
What are your thoughts? Do you prefer a gentle or strict infant sleep method?