Anna Baker has fast become known as the ‘baby whisperer’ among wealthy parents and celebrities – and now she’s revealed some of her most in-demand secrets.
The 35-year-old single mum-of-two, originally from Washington but now living in Sydney, has been an ‘elite’ nanny for years, assisting sleep deprived parents with their babies.
‘Your baby doesn’t care if you’re famous or a CEO – they will make your life a living hell if their sleep patterns aren’t regulated,’ Anna told FEMAIL.
‘A lot of parents worry when babies cry and aren’t sure how to handle it – but be patient, figure out what your baby needs and go from there.’
Elite nanny Anna Baker (pictured), 35, moved from Washington to Australia in 2008 to assist actor Russel Crowe and wife Danielle Spencer with their children. Today she’s deemed to be a ‘baby whisperer’ and is known for sleep training babies
The single mum-of-two told FEMAIL she takes prided in what she does and claims she’s able to sleep train babies in just three days (pictured: Anna with her two kids – Luca, 11,and Frankie, eight)
In 2008 she started out assisting actor Russell Crowe and wife Danielle Spencer’s children, and she’s never looked back.
‘I was 21 at the time and had to Google who he was,’ Anna admitted, adding: ‘When it comes to celebrities, you really can’t be star stuck and need to be discreet.
As word of mouth spread she started assisting other celebrities with their children. She’s also worked with fashion designer Camilla Franks and CEO & Founder ModelCo & MCoBeauty founder Shelly Sullivan.
One month she was paid $55,000, or $1450 a day, to assist a client overseas for five and a half weeks. The client also paid for her $269,000 hotel bill.
Sometimes her kids Luca, 11, and Frankie, eight, also join her on her trips if she’s away for an extended period of time.
During Covid Anna and her kids were flown to Adelaide via a private jet for a last minute job.
While she’s a pro at getting children into a better sleeping routine, Anna joked that she needs help with her 11-year-old’s attitude.
‘Your baby doesn’t care if you’re famous or a CEO – they will make your life a living hell if their sleep patterns aren’t regulated,’ Anna told FEMAIL. ‘A lot of parents worry when babies cry and aren’t sure how to handle it – but be patient, figure out what your baby needs and go from there.’
What are Anna’s sleep training methods?
The Cry Me a River Method
This is a modified version of what some of you may know as the slightly controversial ‘cry out’ style. This does seem daunting; however, I will explain all you need to know and why it works! This is my best seller and there’s a good reason for that – it is successful! Cry Me a River involves weening out and eliminating behaviour by not responding to it. For up to 3 nights there will be a lot of crying and it will require gladiator-level patience, but after this time the crying will subside until eventually, they will sleep through the night.
It is crucial that you stay consistent with this approach for 2 weeks so that your baby really understands the routine. Also, remember that babies are going to cry because it is their form of protesting. If someone changed your daily routine then you’d protest too, for a little bit at least!
The Check In and Comfort Method
This involves checking in on your bub but making sure you do not feed or rock them. Doing so will prevent them from falling asleep independently. Once in the crib you will leave your baby for a pre-set time and then come back with some reassuring actions such as a comforting whisper, a pat or a gentle touch. It’s important to note that you should not pick up your baby during this time (and I know that might seem impossible!). You’ll continue checking in and leaving at set times, however, the amount of check ins will decrease and the amount of time between these check ins will increase – day by day. Keep in mind, some parents find going into the room can stir up their bub, so some do choose a more hard-line style such as that in Cry Me a River.
The 8 Nights of the Chair Method
This method is very gradual and will require a strict approach from parents. The difference with this method compared to the previous ones is that instead of leaving the room, you’ll sit in a chair next to the crib once your baby has been put to sleep. Next, you’ll wait for your little one to fall asleep and then that is your cue to head out! Now, the hard part, every time your baby cries you will come back, sit in the chair and wait until they sleep again. Every few nights your chair will be placed further and further away from the crib until you’re no longer in their room.
The best part of this method is that mum and/or dad get to stay with their baby and be together. The hard part is that not only will you watch them cry, they’ll also be seeing you watching them, which can be heartbreaking initially. For this reason, it can be a challenge staying consistent but it is definitely doable and does get easier as time goes on.
The Up, Down and Pat Method
This one is suited to younger babies ( under 4 months) and is more of a happy medium between the ones discussed above. In this method you let your bub feel their discomfort and cry for a short time, and before it heightens you can give them support. This action could include picking your baby up, giving them a back rub or singing lullaby. Once they’ve calmed down you can leave when they’ve fallen asleep and you can head back to bed! The reason this technique is suited to younger children is because as they get older your presence may be too attention-grabbing for them, making it harder to fall asleep independently.
The Sleep Routine Fade-Out Method
This method is another great one to be used in conjunction with any of the other mentioned techniques. Basically, you continue with your chosen method that works for you and then start minimising the amount of time you spend doing it. Eventually you will have decreased your actions to such a point that no action is needed anymore and your baby sleeps independently! A main benefit of this technique is that is reduces crying significantly. A common struggle I hear from parents with this method is that it can be hard to maintain. Every kid will need a different amount of time fading out until they no longer need any technique. This can be taxing and requires patience, but it is worth it. The fade-out allows for a more natural progression to independent sleep and good sleep habits, whilst working with other methods that are right for you and your family.
The Hour of Bedtime Fade-Out Method
Now, this one can get confused with the previous technique but they are certainly different! The Hour of Bedtime Fade-Out starts with you putting your little one to bed around the time they usually start to nod off. You will note the time you pop them in their crib and make this their bedtime for the next 2 – 3 nights. Next you’ll start to move them into bed a little earlier as time goes on, and they will cry a little and make a fuss until they reach their natural snooze time. For example, if your bub normally sleeps at 7:50pm and you put them in their crib at 7:30pm they will kick up a stink for around 20 or so minutes until they reach their inner bedtime. You will continue to bring their bedtime forward, until they fall asleep by themselves at the desired time.
In January 2022 she decided to launch SleepBaker to assist parents with sleep training along with other aspects of parenting.
Today Anna and her team of 15 ‘sleep train’ babies, which involves establishing healthy sleep patterns for babies after three to five nights of training. SleepBaker also offers general nanny services.
‘At the start of sleep training, we require a level of discipline from the parents so the baby can get the sleep it needs,’ Anna said, adding: ‘And only then will the rest of the household resume their own healthy sleeping habits.’
‘Parents reach breaking point when they’re sleep deprived, so we want people to call us before they’ve reached that stage,’ she said.
‘One time I arrived to a family’s home and the dad took off with a bag as soon as I did.. I thought he was leaving for a business trip.’
Anna claims through her tactics and strategies she’s able to sleep train a baby within three days, but the parents need to continue the habit for at least two weeks.
She recommends being patient and understand every baby is different.
For three nights of in-house sleep training, Anna charges $3800, which she admits is quite expensive but is well worth it.
In January 2022 she decided to launch SleepBaker to assist parents with sleep training along with other aspects of parenting
While she’s a pro at getting children into a better sleeping routine, Anna joked that she needs help with her 11-year-old’s attitude (left)
‘I take pride in the fact that SleepBaker has helped save a few marriages along the way,’ she said.
‘Once I took a client’s children overseas for a week while the parents flew to another country to work on their marriage.
‘Halfway through, they called me up to say they needed a second week! As an elite nanny and sleep consultant you must be prepared for anything!’
Anna says it takes a ‘certain type of person’ to be an elite nanny, and that you need the ‘right personality’.
‘You need common sense, confidence, passion and to be a driven person. And no two days are the same,’ she said.
Anna says it takes a ‘certain type of person’ to be an elite nanny, and that you need the ‘right personality’. ‘You need common sense, confidence, passion and to be a driven person. And no two days are the same,’ she said
The SleepBaker staff don’t just assist with sleep, the pro nannies can also help parents do the laundry, go pick up the groceries, and complete day-to-day tasks.
For the parents that would prefer to visit a SleepBaker clinic in Sydney there a five to choose from in Baulkham Hills, Westmead, Rouse Hill, Lindfield and Paddington.
If you’d like to read more about Sleep Baker or contact Anna, click here.