Celebrity nanny Rachel Waddilove: 'Formula is not poison.'

Mums in a muddle.

Maternity nurse Rachel Waddilove helped Gwyneth Paltrow get her first baby to sleep through the night by six weeks. Yep. six weeks.

Paltrow says the supernanny provided “a flexible yet structured routine”  – just the thing for her daughter Apple.

“Rachel’s advice on everything from breastfeeding to parenting was invaluable,” Paltrow says on Waddilove’s website.

Gwyneth Paltrow with Apple In London 2005. Image via Getty.

The celebrity nanny, who has over 40 years experience in sleep training, is trying to help mothers out of the "awful muddle" that is modern-day parenting.

"I think mothers are in such a muddle, bless them. I'm not blaming them - there is so much conflicting advice out there. They go round and round in circles, not quite knowing what to do and then baby doesn't know where he is."

Back to basics.

Ten years after it was first published, Waddilove has revised her go-to-guide for parents,  The Baby Book.  It has been brought up to date for a new generation of mothers but it's about getting back to basics.

The 68-year-old describes her approach as "traditional foundational parenting."

"I'm a great believer in the fact that babies and toddlers thrive on loving flexible routines," said Waddilove.

Rachel Waddilove trained at Doctor Barnado’s in the 1960s. Image supplied.


"I love babies and young children and there a precious gift to us and we need to nurture, cherish them, love them and care for them but within all of that is putting down boundaries," she said.

"We're not talking about leaving a baby or a toddler cold, hungry and unloved for hours-on-end to shout -  that's abuse. We are talking about putting loving parenting boundaries in."

Actress Minnie Driver was helped by Rachel. Image by Jordan Strauss/WireImage.

The mother of three spends most of time during her consultancy and maternity nurse service speaking to parents about sleep.

"The most important thing with any baby is that they must have a full tummy at every feed."

"Whether you're breastfeeding or bottle feeding you want to make sure that they are completely tanked up at every feed. If your baby is fine and fit and healthy, there's no reason why they shouldn't have a sleep," said Waddilove.

Tough love.

It sounds easy enough, but Waddilove recognises that it can be difficult.

"It's really hard to be tough, it's tough love isn't it really?"she admits.

"Obviously if you've got a sick child you must meet their needs and you must get them up and cuddle them...but if you got a baby that is needing to be sleep trained then it's a matter then of talking through how you do that," said Waddilove.


Rachel Waddilove is a great believer in swaddling. Image via iStock.

Despite her "tough love" tactics, Rachel comes across warm and loving. As the eldest of six children she had a natural affinity with babies even as a child. She gushes as she talks about swaddling little ones and offers me some very helpful advice about my own toddler.

"There's no quick fix to parenting and I say that to girls if they want to do sleep training they are going to need to be consistent and persevere."

She wants mothers to make their own choices and trust their own instincts - especially when it comes to feeding.

Formula is not poison.

"In England the breastfeeding brigade are sort of Evangelical about the fact that you must do it whatever. There are people who can say that every mother can breastfeed and in my experience over the years not every mother can breastfeed.

"I think there's such a lot of guilt pushed on mothers for not doing this, that and the other and this is just another thing. It's a woman's choice what she does and if she wants to put her baby on the bottle it's actually going to do just as well as breast.

"The milk not the same as breast milk but formula is not poison."

Listen to your mother.

Rachel Waddilove's parenting advice is accessible  - along with her books she provides telephone and Skype consultations to clients worldwide. But she says there is also advice close to home.

"I'm not saying anything new. I'm probably saying the same thing your mother or certainly your grandmother said. These are really foundational parenting skills that have been around for generations."

Mothers in the Mamamia office anonymously confess what they first thought when they saw their newborn.