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New chapter for baby whisperer

Baby expert Sharlene Poole may be better at burbing newborns than writing books but it hasn’t stopped her becoming a published author — and no-one is more surprised than her.

“Oh my God I’m an author, that’s ridiculous!” said the 35-year-old last week from her Bayview Road home overlooking the harbour through spindly manuka trees that have grown too tall.

She’d told Penguin Books when approached less than two years ago that she couldn’t write and had been no good at English at school. “Winding babies is my forte,” she says.

But after a trial run her Auckland publishers thought differently and ‘Baby Whispering’ — described as “the practical handbook that every mother needs when preparing for a new baby” — was conceived. It’s due to hit the bookshelves later this month.

Sharlene finds the idea of the book launch both exciting and scary because she’s about to be put in the public eye again and that’s a bit daunting, despite a regular slot on TV One’s ‘Good Morning’ show which for the past four years has made the unassuming baby expert both credible and media-savvy.

Broken down into easy-to-follow timeframes, from preparing for arrival and birth right through to 12 months, the book shares Sharlene’s secrets of success for a settled and contented baby. New parents can personalise the information to suit themselves, gaining skills and confidence along the way.

“I didn’t want a mother to reach for the book and feel there was only one way of doing anything,” explains Sharlene. “There’s no right or wrong — it’s what makes you the happiest parent.”

She found the contract to complete the book stressful. “It was on my mind all the time,” she confesses. “Constantly there.”

When sleep-deprived herself after seeing clients’ babies through sleepless nights, as arguably the country’s leading baby expert often finds herself, it was hard to come home and write about babies. “And it was hard work refining everything down to basics,” she admits.

But now she’s free of all that and can get on with the business of baby whispering, which was the phrase coined by TVNZ’s Sunday documentary a few years ago when her talents for calming babies were revealed nationwide.

Instructional DVDs followed, then coverage in parenting magazines and a baby talk slot on ‘Good Morning’ in which Sharlene answers viewers questions live. And coming next month is an appearance on a new TVNZ series — ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ — hosted by celebrity mum Jacqui Brown who takes a look at different styles of parenting.

A NZ Woman’s Weekly feature is also on the horizon.

It can get hectic but is ultimately rewarding, stresses Sharlene whose client base is in Auckland but home and sanctuary are back in Raglan.

Not that Raglan parents miss out. There’s been a spate of babies born here recently whose parents have called on Sharlene for advice and sanity-saving tips. Among them are Reuben Brown and Shari Amos in Whale Bay who’ve had twin girls, Elsie-May and Georgie.

Sharlene’s offered a bit of her trademark advice in return for getting Reuben to lop the tops off the manuka trees threatening to block her bay view. That’s often how it works in Raglan.

And where to from here for the baby whisperer? Sharlene hopes to start a family “at some stage” and put into practice for herself the techniques she’s perfected over the years.

She admits she never wanted to be an older parent — but time seems to have put paid to that.
Edith Symes

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