• Registered Nurse
  • Registered Midwife
  • Certified Mental Health Nurse
  • Certified Child Health Nurse
  • Graduate Diploma in Health Promotions
  • International Board Certified Lactation
  • Consultant (IBCLC)

Health Practitioner – Rowena Bennett

Like many parents, before becoming a health practitioner, I found it challenging to care for my three children as babies and toddlers. There were times when they would not eat, appeared to fight to go to sleep, woke repeatedly during the night, and cried for reasons that at the time I didn’t understand… but later would.

I had more experience than most before becoming a parent. I was the eighth in a family of nine children, and so, before having my own, I would at times babysit one or more of my 17 nieces and nephews. I was a registered nurse and midwife with experience working in pediatric and postnatal wards. Based on these experiences, I felt confident that caring for a baby of my own would be “easy”. I was so naïve! While I knew how to “care” for a baby, I was not prepared for the reality of parenting 24/7.

There were fun times, but the early years of my children’s lives were marred by chronic sleep deprivation, postpartum depression and second-guessing every decision I made. Consequently, I would not describe those years as “enjoyable”.

If it were not for the difficulties I experienced in caring for my children as babies, my career may have taken a different path. Having suffered postpartum depression twice, I wanted to help other women experiencing similar problems. And so I decided to train as a mental health nurse once my youngest started school. It was during my training that I learned about ‘behavioral theories’. What an eye opener that was! I realized how much easier it could have been in those early years had I understood just how influential my actions, as my child’s parent, were on his or her behavior. This realization spurred me on to learn more.

I later trained as a child health nurse. [Australia is one of only a handful of countries that train child health nurses to facilitate well-baby health checks and provide health education and parenting advice.] During training, I received education on child growth and development, the physical and emotional health of children, and the reasons and solutions to common baby care problems.

For 20 years I worked at an early parenting education center in Queensland, Australia, where parents, their babies and young children were admitted for five days to receive 24-hour hands-on support from experienced child health nurses in order to resolve complex infant feeding and sleeping problems. Parents considered their admission to the center as their last hope of finding a solution. This was, and still is, the case for most families. As a government-funded tertiary healthcare service, families only gain admission to the center if health professionals and health services within their community have been unsuccessful in providing them with a solution to their baby care dilemma.

Advice from a health practitioner


Basically, our role as child health nurses was to solve baby care problems that multiple health professionals previously consulted by the family had been unable to solve. There were no other health services or health professionals to refer the family onto in order to solve their baby’s feeding or sleeping problem. If we couldn’t provide a solution, it was highly likely that baby, his/her parents, and the entire family would continue to endure the stress associated with an unresolved baby care problem… for a very long time.

Being part of a team of nurses that are the ‘last port-of-call’ for desperate families motivated me to learn more. Over the 20 years working side by side with families at the center, I learned from the parents, other nurses and health professionals. I obtained a graduate diploma in Health Promotions, qualified as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), attended conferences and read countless articles on anything remotely related to babies.

Based on my experience at the center, I knew it was not necessary to literally see a physically well baby to assess the reasons for infant feeding or sleeping problems. I just needed to know the right questions to ask his or her parent. In 2001, I decided to start an online parenting consultancy service to provide parenting advice to a worldwide (English-speaking) market. Developing an internet-based consultation service was a HUGE step for a technology novice such as myself, who at that time needed to ask her then the teenage daughter – “How do I get on the internet?” Through sheer determination to learn www.babycareadvice.com was launched a year later.

Initially, I worked part-time at the early parenting education center and part-time in my consultation service. I published articles on my Baby Care Advice website, which are popular because I include a behavioral perspective on baby care problems, i.e. how baby’s behavior and/or gastrointestinal symptoms develop in response to different infant feeding and settling practices. As a result, the number of parents who booked consultations slowly increased. Word spread through parenting forums and it wasn’t long before I had a steady flow of new clients.

By the time parents consult with me, most babies have already been diagnosed with between one and five different medical conditions to explain their distress. However, medical conditions were rarely the cause.

Frustrated by the over-diagnosis of medical conditions to explain babies’ crying, disrupted sleep and feeding problems, I decided to write a book on behavioral reasons for infant sleeping problems. In 2012, I released my first book, Your Sleepless Baby. This was later translated into Spanish – Tu Bebe Desvelado.

I had plans for more books but the arrival of three more grandchildren in three years (making five in total) and with my consultation service then booming, I found there were not enough hours in the day. In 2016, I resigned from the early parenting education center to free up time to write my second book, Your Baby’s Bottle-feeding Aversion, which was released in September 2017.

The accumulative effect of knowledge and experience gained as a result of six professional qualifications, and over 20 years of hands-on experience guiding parents on the care of babies, has undoubtedly given me greater insight into behavioral reasons and solutions to infant feeding and sleeping problems than most other health professionals.

With hindsight, I realize that life could have been so much more enjoyable during my early parenting years. At the time, I made common parenting mistakes due to limited knowledge about infant development and a lack of awareness of how my actions influenced my babies’ behavior. If only I had known then what I know now!

I cannot turn back the clock. But I can share in my books what I have learned so that my children, my nieces, and nephews (now 28 in total), the children of friends and children of others of my generation, can discover what they currently don’t know, they don’t know about the care of babies. And by learning these things from reading Your Baby Series books, gain greater knowledge, confidence, and enjoyment in caring for their babies.