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Her supporters - among them Kate Winslet and Heather Mills Mc Cartney - insist that "Gina's babies' are contented, happy and able to sleep through the night from eight weeks old.Her detractors, who include the childcare experts Miriam Stoppard and Penelope Leach, complain that such rigid adherence to routines is prescriptive and unloving.Millions of mothers swear by her advice - but others call her cruel.Now in a rare interview Gina Ford hits back If Gina Ford did not speak with a lilting Scottish accent, you would want to invent one for her.
"I don't see the Gina Ford that everyone else hears about.It strikes you instantly that the childcare guru resembles no one quite so much as the likeable fictional nanny Mrs Doubtfire who - appropriately perhaps - used the same firm-but-fair methods that Gina has spectacularly made her own.You can imagine many a harassed mother being soothed by the gentle balm of Gina's particular brand of cheeriness."All I did was write a tiny little book about sleeping and feeding," she says with a chuckle.They also point out that Gina, 52, has no children of her own and that her ideas derive not from any medical qualifications but in part from an unsettled upbringing by a single mother who let Gina sleep in bed with her until the age of 11.
Last year, the rival camps found themselves drawn into a vicious war of words on the internet.
"It was published with no publicity and spread by word of mouth."That was in 1999 and The Contented Little Baby Book, advocating a strictly timed routine of sleeping and feeding, went on to sell more than half a million copies.