Tizzie Hall is a global phenomenon.
Her book, Save Our Sleep, was released in 2006 and has sold more than 100,000 copies. From a small store in the coastal town of Ocean Grove she runs an online shop, forum, app and sleep consultancy business that turns over more than $2 million a year and employs 11 staff.
Everybodys babies are hungry and cold. We have a formula to make sure they are not hungry and cold. We use the formula and we fix them.Tizzie Hall
"I have an accidental but very successful business," Hall says. She's not alone, with the internet brimming with baby sleep consultants.
Saving your sleep
Hall first started working as a baby sleep consultant in Ireland over 20 years ago when the term didn't really exist.
"I used to go from house to house helping people with their babies," she says. "Then I moved to England and I babysat and did weekend nannying and night nannying to make money. I started getting a name for it that I could get people's babies to sleep."
Hall moved to Australia as a backpacker but kept working with families in Britain, emailing them advice.
"I think I would be one of the pioneers," she says. "I hadn't heard of anyone else doing it and it just sort of happened."
The email advice turned into a website in 2002 with PDF advice and routines customers could pay to download. From this came a regular parenting column in a magazine which then spawned Hall's bestselling book
"Having the book, people needed the products recommended in the book and that's where the store comes from," Hall says. "I used to do home visits but I don't any more because we solve all the problems by email. Everybody's babies are hungry and cold. We have a formula to make sure they are not hungry and cold. We use the formula and we fix them."
It's a formula that parents are prepared to pay for. Hall's Save Our Sleep website offers 12 months' support through the online forum for a fee of $240 or $1198 for a 30-day email consultation with Hall herself. Every product recommended by Hall is on sale in her store.
"I've never done a business plan and I've never had a business adviser," Hall says. "We just go with the flow and it just keeps growing."
Gifting you sleep
Elizabeth Sloane is also busy managing a growing business in Sydney with her book, The Gift of Sleep, released this month by Allen & Unwin.
The publisher won't give out print run details but says "we've certainly got high hopes for The Gift of Sleep, based on the performance of similar titles in the market".
Sloane's eponymous website describes a "step-by-step baby sleep program chosen by more than 13,000 parents worldwide, including obstetricians and celebrities, to teach their babies to self-settle and sleep through the night".
Sloane does most of her consultations by email and telephone, with rates of $100 for a 30-minute phone call or $450 for email and telephone support for two weeks.
"I'm going to teach [the baby] the gift of self-settling and there will be possibly some protests with that and if we stay calm and committed and consistent and don't go back to the old sleep associations, that will let the baby sleep through the night," Sloane says. "A sleep program for me has never been about a family sleeping through, it is about giving the gift of self-settle back to that baby."
She has the backing of Mia Freedman, who sold Sloane's The Gift of Sleep e-book on her Mamamia website.
"[It] will change the life of every sleep-deprived parent and every exhausted baby who wakes throughout the night," Freedman says. "And I should know. Because it changed mine."
Sloane also does overnight visits to families at a rate of about $1000 a night, although she won't disclose her income.
"In terms of making an absolute killing, we are not wealthy by any means," she says. "All that does is send a message to mothers that it is just a moving money train and I've never been about that."
It's difficult to uncover any data behind this booming business area.
Professor Helen Ball, the director of the parent-infant sleep lab at Durham University, says with no registration or licensing system for sleep consultants, evidence of growth is only anecdotal.
"There are a number of reasons parents are turning to sleep consultants," Ball says. "Advertising and availability is a key one. Cultural pressures on parents regarding sleep expectations are another."
Hall believes there's a simple reason behind the demand.
"We have lost the skill of parenting because we don't get it handed down any more from our mums and sisters and aunts," she says. "The parents today are set up to fail. I think that's why we need the consultants."