Catherine Completely Baby Sleep Consultant

Catherine Thompson
Baby Sleep Consultant & Owner of Completely Baby

Are you a parent of a baby or toddler struggling with sleep issues? I’m excited to share that I recently joined Rachel Chappell (Founder of North Shore Mums) and Sarah Levett, on their podcast “The Parenting Couch” to discuss baby and toddler sleep challenges.

As a Baby Sleep Consultant at Completely Baby, I’ve dedicated my career to understanding and enhancing your little ones’ sleep patterns, addressing both naps and overnight rest.

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Topics Covered In The Podcast?

In our engaging conversation, we explore vital topics including:

1 – The right age for a baby to ‘sleep through’ the night.

2 – Whether using an app to track your baby’s sleep is beneficial.

3 – The importance of a holistic approach tailored to each child’s unique sleep needs.

4 – When to consider professional help if your child is experiencing sleep difficulties.

5 – Establishing bedtime rituals and their impact on sleep.

6 – The ongoing debate regarding the use of dummies for aiding sleep.

7 – The advisability of feeding your baby to sleep.

8 – Effective strategies for dealing with early morning wake-ups.

For a wealth of practical advice and insights, I invite you to listen to the full episode on “The Parenting Couch” podcast by clicking on the link below 🎧. I hope you enjoy the baby sleep podcast.

See Below For Full Transcript Of The Podcast

Do You Need Help With Your Baby Or Toddlers Sleep?

I am a highly experienced baby sleep consultant with a unique educational and healthcare background.
Click Below NOW to book in a free chat with me I would love to see how I can help!

Black and white photo of Catherine Thompson owner of the baby sleep consultancy Completely Baby based in Sydney, posing with her girls

Full Transcript Of The Podcast

See below also for a full transcript of the baby sleep podcast for easy reading!

00:02 – Narrator (Announcement)
Welcome to the Parenting Couch with Rachel Chappell and Sarah Levitt. Honest conversations about what parenting is really like because, let’s be real, it can be hard Proudly brought to you by NorthshoreMomscomau.

00:19 – Rachel Chappell (Co-host)
Welcome back to another episode of the Parenting Couch podcast. I’m Rachel Chappell.

00:25 – Sarah Levett (Co-host)
And I’m Sarah Levitt, and I think any parent, or most parents, are asking the question how can I get my little one to sleep All those years that I spent shushing and rocking and patting, and I wished I’d had a Catherine Thompson then, with over 20 years experience working with babies and toddlers, originally a pediatric nurse and then moved into early childhood education Also a red nose volunteer, a parent, herself a wife. She has a website called completelybabycom and we very much welcome you on to the Parenting Couch podcast, catherine. Thank you.

01:10 – Catherine Thompson (Guest)
Thanks guys, pleasure to be here.

01:12 – Rachel Chappell (Co-host)
Catherine, it’s so lovely to welcome you to the Parenting Couch. This is such a big topic because it is such a big issue for so many mums with babies and toddlers, and even though mine are a little bit older now, you just remember how important it is for the parents to get a good night’s sleep, and I guess one of the topics I thought we could start with today is the nighttime, because you know, I feel like if the kids don’t sleep at night time, the parents or the mum in particular, often is ruined the next day. So I guess you’ve got the new baby, you’ve brought them home for the hospital. What happens next in terms of sleep?

01:50 – Catherine Thompson (Guest)
Every baby, firstly, looks very different when it comes to sleep. You know, when we’re looking at sleep, it’s very similar to things like feeding. You know how they are physically. So remembering that each baby is very unique, with their own sleep needs, their temperament, so very overwhelming, I remember back to when I was a mum bringing a little baby home, which just brings a huge range of emotions. And, yes, sleep definitely is one of those big key sort of things that I think parents think about when they’re about to have a baby.

When we’re looking at nights or it’s so, sleep is such a, you know it’s an in-depth sort of area, but when we’re looking at nighttime, babies and newborns really need that circadian rhythm and that sleep hormone melatonin to help them with those nights and that nighttime sleep. And also they’re going to wake for frequent feeds when they’re very, very little. So naturally there is going to be a bit of disruption to nights, you know, in the early months when you have a baby. But as time goes on you’d hope that that evolves and you get a little bit more sleep there. Hopefully that answers that one.

03:06 – Rachel Chappell (Co-host)
Yeah, and what sort of age? I mean, it’s the endless question. What age should you expect your baby to be able to go for longer periods at nighttime, even if it’s just waking up once a night or you know, like, where is the light at the end of the tunnel under normal circumstances?

03:21 – Catherine Thompson (Guest)
Yeah. So one of the biggest questions is you know, when will my baby sleep through the night? That’s sort of my top question that I get and I think you know, in order to answer that, there’s so many factors that go into that. You know, was your baby premature? Do they, um, how’s their weight tracking? You know, have they got any other additional needs there? But in short, you know, sleeping through the night is sort of six hours uninterrupted of sleep for infants and every baby reaches that stage at different times, just like they roll at different times they learn to crawl. I know it’s a big need for us as parents, but it will come, and sometimes with a little bit of help from external people you know can help you along the way. But I would say from around sort of two months of age you can be expecting some longer stints. So eight weeks.

Catherine Thompson with a new baby

04:19 – Sarah Levett (Co-host)
That can look different with each baby, I think like you say, everybody, I mean I know I thought I’m going to have one of those babies that just sleeps. I’m going to be really chilled out. It’s going to just all be good. And of course I was not going to show, I was not going to let her fall asleep in my arms, all of these things that I did all of. And she still shares a bed with me a lot of the time, and she’s nearly 11, which I did not expect. But I guess, like, should you be just going with their lead and if you can just be chilling with their vibe and if they’re waking two hours and if they’re this, or should you be trying to push a routine onto them from an early age?

Do You Need Help With Your Baby Or Toddlers Sleep?

I am a highly experienced baby sleep consultant with a unique educational and healthcare background.
Click Below NOW to book in a free chat with me I would love to see how I can help!

04:57 – Catherine Thompson (Guest)
I think when we’re looking at the younger infants, it you know, by around three to four months you should hopefully find that they gradually go into a little bit of a rhythm and find their own rhythm there a little bit when it comes to sleeping in the day and what they’re doing overnight. But yes, like you know everything early childhood and children that sometimes they need a little bit of guidance, a little bit of tweaking along the way. So I think it’s looking at, you know, what can we developmentally, you know, expect from our child? You know what age are they, what stage are they, what’s going on for them? But at the same time, if they are, you know, waking and it’s becoming unsustainable, then I think that’s definitely a reason to sort of look for some support or start to rethink okay, what does their day look like? Because day sleep definitely feeds into tonight’s sleep. So that’s when, you know, when I’m working with families, really getting a picture across 24 hours of what their sleep patterns look like.

06:07 – Rachel Chappell (Co-host)
So is it important to track, like I can know? There’s so many apps where you can track your baby’s sleep. Is it good to do that? I?

06:14 – Catherine Thompson (Guest)
think when. So, from experience, first time I was one of those moms who used an app and tracked everything and I did become a little bit obsessed with it. Second time round, second child, no app, you know, looks very different. Second time round, you know, I think wasn’t enough time to be on the app, but also I think I found from the first time it just wasn’t working for me. So, again, I think, if it’s working for you and it’s not becoming something that stresses you out even more, then yes, I would. You know, I think it can be helpful to have a look.

If you’re thinking about what your baby’s doing or what your toddler’s doing and trying to look at their sleep, then definitely keeping a bit of a diary. The same when it comes to feeding, you know, I think when you’re looking at solids, introducing solids, it can help to have a little bit of a diary is to explore that. But yes, so I, with my families, when I have consults with them, I set them up on an app and have some follow on support there so we can track their sleep and their rhythms and really work out Okay, well, what are what’s your child’s unique sleep needs?

07:24 – Rachel Chappell (Co-host)
So I guess in that what you’re saying is all children are different, all babies are different. So the way you work with families is to look at those needs for that particular baby, look at the patterns that they seem to be forming and form a routine around that. Is that what you’re saying?

07:40 – Catherine Thompson (Guest)
Yeah, so for me sleep is very holistic. You know, when we’re looking at healthcare and back to my nursing days, we would look at, you know, the patient holistically, the same as babies and toddlers, and when we’re looking at sleep, really looking at what’s going on for that child socially and emotionally. What does their daily life look like? You know, what does their care environment look like? Have they got any additional physical needs, all of those things. So looking at the whole child, rather than, I guess, providing a program that’s quite scheduled that may not take those elements into account, because, you know, often it’s through sort of that observation, in that history taking with families, that you really get to learn about what that that baby needs and then make those tweaks.

08:31 – Sarah Levett (Co-host)
I was thinking back to with my daughter.

You know you do question if you could have done something differently early on, but I was very conscious of it very early on and trying to leave the room and but not do controlled crying, obviously, and you know quite gentle, and everything. And then she still needed someone to sit with her, forever patting and singing and humming, and I tried everything. I even remember having a sleep consultant at the time because the sitting in there just went on and on, but I couldn’t leave either because that just wasn’t acceptable, like, and so I felt like even now she can’t, she prefers to have someone with her when she’s falling asleep. Then I don’t know what point, what point there, I don’t know. I mean it’s too late now, but like in terms of for other parents listening, that I’m sure experiencing, I mean my daughter has a very busy mind, as do I, and falling asleep is even tricky for me and melatonin has been an absolute savior and now she can have melatonin. It does make a big difference. But obviously you can’t be giving melatonin to little little ones.

09:33 – Catherine Thompson (Guest)
Yeah. So I think you know I’m pleased you mentioned that because I am there with you. I have done it all. I have been there with my little girls, you know, staying in the room doing all of this stuff. So I’m certainly no. You know what sleep consultant has dream sleepers. I’ve been there, I’ve navigated those times.

You know, it can feel incredibly isolating. I think you can feel incredibly vulnerable when you’re sort of in that pattern, and I’ve definitely been the. You know, I’ve rocked my girls to sleep, I’ve been there holding their hands to sleep and I think through, obviously, my experience and sort of tapping back into that, I’ve managed to sort of just make a few adjustments and but it’s natural we fall into those patterns. But I would say that it’s never too late to make changes because you know, I think it’s like anything, you know, even us as adults, we seek support to make change. You know, I think we can always make a change, but sometimes it just takes a little bit longer.

You know I am a big advocate for if you can get early support when we have a baby and we go into preparing for the birth, so much that goes into that. And then there’s feeding and what’s the feeding gonna look like. But actually, when sleep is such sort of a big ticket item and it’s probably one of the biggest things that I think parents may think about it and fear or, can you know, worry about what what that’s gonna look like for them, because naturally your sleep does get affected as a parent and I’m a big lover of sleep, so I I found that a struggle, but you know, I think getting early access to support around one you know, some healthy foundations and some To settle your baby early on so that we’re not leaving it too late, and just knowing that you’ve always got support out there, no matter what stage you’re at, you’ve got to want to make that change.

11:30 – Rachel Chappell (Co-host)
And it was a family, then you know, and it’s sustainable, then then I think, go for it so, catherine, what would you say to a new mom would be like your top tips to help your baby Get to sleep, either at night time or for naps and stuff. What would be your top tips? Top, there’s probably lots, but no, no.

11:56 – Catherine Thompson (Guest)
Well, some consistency.

You know, babies do thrive, and toddlers on consistency so setting up some really lovely little rituals early on so that your baby knows when it’s sleep time, such as swaddling, making the room darker, giving them a nice cuddle, all of those things putting them in their sleep space. So you know, when we look at setting things up early, if your babies calm, pop them in that court, give them some time to get used to that space and show them how to do it, because I remember that time when I did it as a mom and I was Dreading it and it took time, but we got there wasn’t easy, you know, and you know I’m definitely A believer in if it’s not working for you and it’s stressing you out or whatever, just have a break. You know there’s another nap, there’s another sleep, you know. I think so. Some consistent little rituals.

Try not to over complicate things. Try and get back to basics a little bit. That’s one of the big things that I strive to do is I know it sounds easy not to complicate things when we have so much going on in the parenting world. Now. You know all the books, social media Tell you what you shouldn’t, shouldn’t be doing with your baby, all the additional accessories, but the reality is that babies needs haven’t changed. So so really just trying to go back to basics, trying to tune into their behavior and slow things down a little bit, because sleep for me is sort of very much behavior driven. So looking at what your babies cues are, what their behavior is telling you, trying to roll with that.

Do You Need Help With Your Baby Or Toddlers Sleep?

I am a highly experienced baby sleep consultant with a unique educational and healthcare background.
Click Below NOW to book in a free chat with me I would love to see how I can help!

13:43 – Sarah Levett (Co-host)
Trying to roll with that what do you think about dummies? Because I was very funny about that. I felt really kind of Using them. I don’t actually know entirely why, but I look at people with babies with dummies and I think that’s great. I should have probably done that if I had another one. I think I’d whip out some dummies. I know there’s tricky things that come with it as well, because then I fall out and I need to take it away later on, but do you think are they helpful soothing tool or what do you feel?

14:13 – Catherine Thompson (Guest)
so babies and young babies especially love sucking to soothe and, and for some babies dummies can be really useful, especially in the early days. I would generally say wait till. If you’re a breastfeeding mom, wait till breastfeeding, get some guidance with with a lactation consultant or you know your feeding your local clinic, sort of after four to six weeks and if breastfeeding is going well. Again, a lot of this is parental choice. I would say dummies uses a tool rather than a go to. So you know I would be, you know, I guess, trying to soothe and and let your baby use their hands at times To soothe rather than pop a dummy straight in first.

For bottle fed babies, dummies can be really useful because often they finished the feed a lot, lot quicker and they’ll need that Quite often one that extra sucking time. So dummies can be useful then. But I I’ve seen, you know, across the years I’ve seen dummies that can become problematic and you know that is baby with waking every sleep cycle or every other sleep cycle looking for that dummy. And again that would be a time where I would probably say that’s, you know, stop the dummy. But there’s lots of babies that sleep with dummies and actually it doesn’t, it doesn’t bother them that much.

But you know, I tend to try and follow parents and give them the options, sort of say you know, this is, this is what I’m suggesting, this is what I’m seeing. What would you like to do?

15:52 – Rachel Chappell (Co-host)
Yeah, I remember with the dummy, because we did use it and I remember that exact problem you’re talking about, like they’d be asleep, they’d be having a nap and then then dummy would fall out and then they’d wake and then you’d have to go back in and pop the dummy in, and I think that’s when it became a problem, because it’s like, oh no, they’re awake, the dummy’s probably fallen out. And yes, the dummy had fallen out, so it was so useful in some respects, but then it wasn’t anymore.

16:21 – Catherine Thompson (Guest)
Did you end?

16:21 – Rachel Chappell (Co-host)
up getting rid of it, rachel. Yeah, we did I can’t remember exactly what age, but I think probably by one. We got rid of it because it was no longer like it was great to get them too sleep, but then they’d wake up again. So yeah, it was not so good then.

16:39 – Catherine Thompson (Guest)
So often it’s that, you know, interim period before they can actually put the dummy back in themselves. You know, obviously, up until they’re probably about seven months, six, seven months. But again, even that it can still become a disturbance once they’ve learned that skill. So if it’s more of a problem than not, then I would, you know, edge towards getting rid of it.

17:00 – Rachel Chappell (Co-host)
What are your thoughts on fading to sleep?

17:04 – Catherine Thompson (Guest)
Another big question out there, you know.

I’ve done a blog on this and for me, everything. You know, if it’s working, do we need to worry about it? Do we need to bother about it? I would always say, if you’re and and again I’ve done this you know that bedtime feed. I was fortunate enough to breastfeed both my girls. You know I loved that evening feed, that moment together, and you know I kind of miss it actually now, but I would let them fall asleep, but again it wasn’t becoming a problem.

I think if I would always say you know, if you’re feeding your baby, the same as you know with a bottle, you know, once they finish the feed, take them off the breast or the bottle, so they’re not getting used to falling asleep at every feed with the bottle or the breast in their mouth, because it’s sort of similar to, you know, rocking them to sleep.

And again, it’s looking at things in with imbalance. So if it’s, you know, like you know, one nap of the day or one, do you know what I mean? But if it’s every sleep, then your baby may become used to that and that may be the only way that they know how to fall asleep. So you know there are some families that will come to me and their baby will be waking every sleep cycle, looking for the bottle or the breast to be able to fall asleep again. So again, it’s just looking at the big picture. Really, if you can, as they’re finishing off a feed, take them off, give them some cuddles, give them some other form of you know soothing to help them fall asleep, if they need to.

18:40 – Rachel Chappell (Co-host)
Another issue that I remember going through was the early wakes. Like all, my kids seemed to wake up at 4, 30, and that was the beginning of the day. They were wide awake, ready for the day, and there was. I would try and hush them back to sleep. It’s still dark outside and they would just be awake at that time. So what do you do about early waking? Exhausting? Yes, not easy.

19:05 – Catherine Thompson (Guest)
Yeah yeah, exhausting. I remember there being a few occasions when my girls would do that definitely, and they go through phases. So sleep for me during that first year there’s so many different transitions that that’s why I get families coming back repeatedly sometimes to navigate that next transition. So the nap transitions For me it would be looking at how much sleep is your child getting and when in the daytime, because quite often that will give us an indicator as to why that early waking is happening. It can often be because they’re having too much day sleep and that’s eating up into that night’s sleep. So really getting a picture of what does their 24 hour sleep look like? Do you remember at what stage that was, rachel, when they were doing that?

Catherine Thompson holding a 6 month baby

20:04 – Rachel Chappell (Co-host)
I was just thinking it now. It’s all such a blur yeah.

That holds when you look back on it, like I’ve got three kids and it’s just like those sort of the haze of breastfeeding and waking up in the night. It’s all such a blur, which I hope is reassuring to any mums who are listening to this now, who are going through that, because I guess it’s just it does pass. I think you can be going through some really hard times with your child and sleeping and be so exhausted, but just age old phrase of this too will pass and, as you say, you quickly move to the next phase or the next in their sleeping or in their development. So it’s interesting to look back on it and to be talking to you about this, because it is, it’s so, but at the time when you’re in it it’s so hard and you’re not getting enough sleep and your best friend’s baby is sleeping brilliantly during the day and during the night and yours just won’t.

I mean not all babies are different though, aren’t they?

21:02 – Catherine Thompson (Guest)
And I think you know, going back to parents groups, you know that would be the top question. I remember going in and you know it would be. You know what’s your baby doing? Are they sleeping through? Yet I found it put me under a lot of stress and it made me question myself. It made me question my girls. You know what’s going on for them. Why aren’t they doing what this baby’s doing? And I think that’s also, you know, influenced, obviously, why I do what I do, because it’s torturous.

you know that lack of sleep at times and you know I’ve done some crazy stuff as a mum when I’ve been that sleep deprived. You know I’ve been the mum that’s hopped on a train back in London with the dog and the baby and gone down to my husband and just said I can’t. You know I need help. It’s the fact that there are, there is that rollercoaster of sleep that hopefully gives people out there a message that you know it is normal that we’re going to have these phases and that there are going to be changes to your child’s sleep and I think, just always knowing that you can get help there and there’s lots of resources out there for families nowadays.

22:11 – Sarah Levett (Co-host)
Yeah, like yourself, you’ve been amazing. I think that’s a really important point to take away is comparison and expectation, because you do compare to others. You know, I had my mum saying to me you slept 12 hours a night and it’s like, yeah, but you didn’t, I didn’t nap during the day. I didn’t nap during the day. What baby doesn’t? I don’t know what was going on there, but what I mean is that’s not fair then to be saying, well, you were sleeping 12 hours at night. What’s wrong with your child? And it’s like, well, yeah, that’s not, but anyway, that is the comparison thing. And then there’s the expectation.

22:47 – Rachel Chappell (Co-host)
So you love it when your parents give you advice. It’s great.

22:51 – Sarah Levett (Co-host)
Oh yeah, especially when it’s based on that. But I mean, I think the thing too with that expectation is, you know, before you know, I read a lot of books and everything, even on breastfeeding, all of it, and it all appears to be fairly easy and natural that these things are meant to happen. Because, well, because they are, because we are designed to have babies, but breastfeeding can be really hard as well and hurt, and all these things that I feel all good in theory to hear them know it, read it, but when you’re actually in it and, as you say, you’re sleep surprised, it’s a form of torture. After a certain amount of time, your identity is changing as a woman as well. These are all really big things that are going on and I feel like a lot of us are going. I’m an island, I’m going to look like I’m coping, and here I am on my own trying to manage all of this.

23:46 – Catherine Thompson (Guest)
Definitely I’ve been that parent at the end of the day that’s waiting for a partner to get home and, again, there’s not everyone that has partners out there. So I think it’s having that support network and handing the baby and just saying I need a break, getting yourself out for a bit of a check-in and a reset, is so important. I think sleep can become very easily quite obsessive. I’ve been there Becca’s a mum trying to force sleep, trying to force that nap at home and knowing in my gut that it’s just completely going to backfire.

I think it actually can be one of the most stressful things to do is putting your child to sleep and I’ve learned over the years that we can’t force this. It’s the same as feeding and lots of other stuff. We can’t force sleep and in those situations really just trying to take some deep breaths, trying to think of what’s another option Pop baby in the pram, pop them in the carrier, something like that because it’s not going to happen this way. Very clearly, and I think it just saves a lot of stress. Really. There’s a lot of stuff out there saying your baby must sleep this amount of time at home, this many naps in the cot, all of this stuff and I think it like you were saying, sarah. It sets unrealistic expectations and puts a lot of pressure on us to achieve that, when our babies are just either don’t need to do that or telling us otherwise.

25:28 – Sarah Levett (Co-host)
So yeah, flexibility is really important 100% and being kind to yourself as well, and I think that’s another part of the message from all of this as well. I pushed her in the pram. In the end she slipped in the garage with the door down and she was in the baby beyond a lot, when she was little, and I sometimes forget she was there just because I, just like that, had to find ways to make it work when it wasn’t working the other way, and I don’t know what that meant for the future. But, as you say, you’ve just got to deal with it at the time and to cope as best you can with whatever’s going on, and so you find all these strategies and so. But now we have people like you. So thank you so much for your time and if you are having a hard time, there are people like Catherine, and Catherine is available Catherine Thompson and completelybabycom.

26:18 – Catherine Thompson (Guest)
Thanks so much, Sarah. Thank you, Rachel. It’s been great being with you both.

26:24 – Rachel Chappell (Co-host)
It’s a pleasure. It was really lovely to talk to you and I’m sure lots of listeners will be very, very grateful for the wonderful advice you’ve been giving and just the knowledge that every child is different and don’t compare yourself to friends. It’s just looking at that child, really isn’t it, and what you can do to support them. Get to sleep. That’s right. Thanks, rachel, thank you, thanks Catherine. I feel lots of really good, reassuring advice from Catherine from completelybaby If you’re struggling with sleep for your baby at the moment. I hope you’ve been reassured by some of the things that she’s shared and some of the tips that she’s given. And if you enjoyed this episode and want to hear a whole lot more, I would suggest that you subscribe. We release new episodes every second Wednesday and you will be notified of every new episode. It will come up in your Apple podcasts and you’ll know we speak about all sorts of different parenting issues, so whether it’s baby related or teenage related, there’s lots of amazing experts that we talk to.

27:32 – Sarah Levett (Co-host)
Oh, my goodness, I have learnt so much like, honestly, it’s just been incredible all the tips and things I’ve gained along the way. I’m super grateful and it’s pretty easy just use your finger and press that button, that’s it. It’s all you got to do to be able to access them and absolutely go back. That’s a lot of episodes, a lot of people that we’ve had on and, yeah, that was amazing with her. It made me think a lot and feel a bit sad, because it was such a big part of my life focus, sleep, you know, and I wish I don’t know, I can’t change anything, but I don’t know. If I did it again, I’d do it some things differently. I’d certainly get someone like her earlier on and get support for sure and use a dummy.

28:14 – Rachel Chappell (Co-host)
Yeah, that’s the thing there is. Support out there isn’t there if you’re struggling and sometimes you feel like you shouldn’t ask for that support because you feel like you should be doing it all yourself and you should have it all figured out. But you shouldn’t. No one’s done the baby thing before, like particularly if it’s your first child. It’s so hard. So much conflicting advice. So if you’ve got an actual person that can help you through it, it can make a world of difference. So thank you, catherine.

28:41 – Sarah Levett (Co-host)
Thank you and thank you for listening and we will catch you next time. See you next time.

END of Baby Sleep Podcast

Catherine Completely Baby Sleep Consultant

Catherine Thompson
Baby Sleep Consultant & Owner of Completely Baby

Did you find this article helpful? I am a highly experienced baby sleep consultant with a unique educational and healthcare background who supports tired parents to help their babies find sleep more easily. If you want to chat about your situation please book in a free chat today by clicking the below button now! Alternatively you can text or call me on: +61 406 344 010.