Anna Baker has been called a 'celebrity baby whisperer' and while the job title sounds a little bizarre, it's been incredibly lucrative.
Australia's foremost sleep training expert for babies and children, Baker has worked with the likes of Russel Crowe and Danielle Spencer, Camilla Franks and more.
Some of her most profitable jobs have seen Baker come home with five-figure pay cheques, like the time she spent five weeks abroad with a family at a rate of $1,450 per day.
Baker was paid $55,000 for that job ¨C enough for a deposit on a house in some Aussie states.
But when it comes to her rich and famous clients, Baker tells 9Honey "You can't really be starstruck. They are just normal people, but you do have to be aware of your surroundings.
"Everybody has different wants and needs, so when it comes to somebody high-profile¡ they're paying for a service that you're providing so they don't have to worry about it."
As an elite nanny, Baker has done many "things that a normal professional nanny wouldn't do", from unpacking the family's bags, to organising cars and dropping everything when a client calls ¡ª but there are plenty of perks too.
"I've been very fortunate."?
During the pandemic, one family flew her to Adelaide by private jet to ensure she wasn't exposed to COVID-19 on a commercial flight.
On another nannying trip abroad she spent weeks in hotel rooms that cost up to $14,000 a night. At the end, the family paid her $270,000 hotel bill.
Sometimes her own children, Luca, 11, and Frankie, eight, even get to accompany her on overseas jobs, especially when a celebrity client wants to travel at the last minute.
On multiple occasions Baker has turned down an international job because she had her kids, only for the client's personal assistant to call back with an offer for the kids to come along.
"Some days it can be really full on, but I've been very fortunate," Baker says, confessing that her work is hugely physically and mentally demanding, especially when she's sleep training.
That's when she works overnight with parents to get their babies or children to sleep properly, something countless families have struggled with through the decades.
"It's not guaranteeing people that your baby's gonna sleep all night. It's actually helping break the habits to start better sleep," she explains.
Baker's usual rate for in-house sleep training is $3,800 for three nights. It seems steep, but parents are willing to pay because they know the job will get done and get done right.
"Before I launched SleepBaker, I charged about $2,600," Baker reveals, but that only covered the three nights with the client, not the follow-up support she provided afterwards.
"I want people to actually value my time and when I increased my prices, I actually got more work¡ people just value your time and they value your knowledge and experience."
She established her business SleepBaker to help parents (celebrity or otherwise) sleep train their children and saw demand explode after the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on kids' sleep patterns.
"Within a couple of weeks somebody said to me, 'how are you going to do this on your own?' I was just getting so many calls¡ and I realised I couldn't be everywhere," she says.
Now Baker leads a staff of more than 20 elite nannies and sleep trainers, admitting that the most money she's spent on the business has gone into training people to "be like her".?
"It does take a certain type of personality and patience, because you're not only helping with the baby, you also have to mentally be there for the exhausted parents," she adds.
Through the years she's seen just about everything, including a mum who would put her baby in the pram and walk him around their neighbourhood all night long just to get him to sleep.
"I had another mum who had all three kids in her bed and the husband was sleeping in the spare room," she adds.
"Their marriage was falling apart because she was too concerned about the kids being unhappy because she had to put them in their own room."
"Safety is your number one concern with babies."
Though Baker has a strict policy of never judging her clients, she will step in when sleeping methods become unsafe, like when she found out one family was propping a newborn baby on a pillow to co-sleep.
"As soon as they fell asleep, she fell down," she recalls. "She was OK, but safety is your number one concern with babies."
SleepBaker offers everything from maternity support, to in-house sleep training and clinic consultations, but there's one thing they won't do; the 'no cry' method.
This method has you pick up the baby the moment they cry and aim for no crying at all during sleep training, but as Baker says, "babies are going to cry".
As for her advice to Aussie parents who are trying to sleep train their own children, Baker says it's all about setting realistic expectations and checking in on yourself.
"You basically wanna set your baby up for great sleep hygiene. It's not about getting them to sleep all night, but if they do wake up, they can self settle back to sleep," she says.
"You've gotta get your mental health on track too before you can actually cater to your baby."
It's advice that applies to everyday Aussie families just as much as it does to her celebrity clients, and that sounds like advice worth following.
Top tips to sleep train your own kids
- Don't stress about creating a sleep schedule for the first eight weeks
- Prioritise good sleep hygiene, rather than sleeping through the night
- Focus on teaching your baby to self-settle and go back to sleep on their own
- It's OK to let baby cry and protest a little
- Book into a clinic for personalised and professional advice
- Don't feel like you have to read every journal and study, it can be overwhelming
- Remember to put time into your own sleep and mental health
SleepBaker is based in Sydney with five clinics there, and the team are available to travel around Australia and overseas. Support can also be found online. Learn more here.
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