Earn more: Become a Newborn Care Specialist

If you’ve been looking to advance your caregiving skill set in order to be an even more appealing candidate to families with care needs, you might want to consider continuing education to become a Newborn Care Specialist (NCS). After undergoing special training, an NCS supports parents by assisting with sleep, feeding schedules, infant development, and sometimes overnight care in the early weeks. 

"When families are preparing for the arrival of a newborn, they are often looking for a true expert," says Shenandoah Davis, co-founder, and chief executive officer of Adventure Nannies. "Many first-time parents are looking for someone to come in and help guide them through the first few months of their newborn’s life, as well as someone to help them feel confident and relaxed in their own parenting abilities."

"At the moment, in the in-home child care industry, we are hearing from agencies all over the country that one of the strongest segments of placement is Newborn Care Specialists," notes Tonya Sakowicz, founder of Newborn Care Solutions, which offers online and in-person newborn care training.  "Formal continuing education, particularly from an accredited course, can make a huge difference in helping you stand out from the crowd and helps parents feel confident in hiring you."

Here, five moves to make if you’re looking to take your newborn care skill set to the next level.

1. Identify gaps in newborn care knowledge

If you’re not sure what areas you might want to brush up on or dive into for the first time, you could take the International Nanny Association Newborn Care Specialist Basic Skills Assessment, notes Sakowicz. The 40-question timed, multiple-choice assessment can be taken online and is designed to ensure a potential NCS is already knowledgeable on health, safety, nutrition, professionalism, and child development basics.

For caregivers who are coming to continued education with a deeper knowledge base, consider taking the NCS Credential Exam (also through INA), suggests Sakowicz.  

2. Research training and certification options

A quick Google search will turn up a host of programs boasting their ability to equip caregivers with the training necessary to earn NCS certification, which can be done through the Newborn Care Specialist Association (NCSA). Sakowicz urges nannies to do their due diligence, as not all programs are created equal. "Many of them are outright fraudulent," warns Sakowicz. "People have to be careful and really research a program before putting down their money." 

Two ways to ensure you’re investing in a quality program: “Be sure and talk to people who have taken training from more than one company and talk to the trainers themselves,” she advises.

The goal should be to land on a program that: 

  • Is accredited by an independent organization like the Council for Awards in Care, Health & Education (CACHE), an attribute that will be touted on the program’s website.
  • Will specifically prepare you for NCS certification.
  • Is taught by an instructor teaching evidence-based best practices.
  • Is raved about by previous and current students.
  • Has at least one, if not more, instructors with who you feel you resonate.

Davis explains that some training programs offer a certificate of participation, which won’t be recognized as NCS certification. “If you’re a student who wants to be proud of your knowledge and accomplishments and be able to share your expertise with families, it’s important to make sure the course you’re taking is a legitimate one,” she notes.

3. Get more specific child care training

After receiving an NCS certification, you might want to consider more specialized training, such as infant/child CPR and first aid, which is an absolute must in Sakowicz’ opinion. “Anyone caring for children should have this and keep it up to date,” she notes. 

Other areas of expertise you could pursue through continuing education programs, according to Sakowicz and Davis:

  • Chestfeeding.
  • Sleep conditioning (which every NCS should have some training on already).
  • Postpartum doula training, which teaches caregivers ways to communicate even more effectively with parents and offers great insight into the whole postpartum period for both the new parent and the baby.
  • Lactation training, which many agencies are reporting more and more requests for. 

4. Connect with an expert mentor

Whether you’ve paired with a mentor through your newborn skills program or nanny agency or you meet them through a professional organization like INA, Sakowicz encourages anyone honing their newborn skills to find a mentor who can support their education. It’s a step she finds so integral to success that her company pairs students with experts in the field who can offer knowledge on all aspects of newborn care and business, from lactation and nutrition to sleep and taxes. “That mentorship is huge in helping newer people grow and flourish,” she says.

5. Set a pay rate that reflects your new skills as a Newborn Care Specialist

"Just like in any other field, additional training and experience bring a higher rate of pay," points out Sakowicz. "Parents usually feel more confident in the caregiver and are willing to pay more for someone with quality training," she says, noting that she frequently hears examples of this from agencies and NCS. 

Even nannies who were looking to pick up additional newborn skills for an existing or new job have reported to Sakowicz that they were considered a more desirable candidate, both to the agency and to the families and that they received a higher wage. In fact, Sakowicz says it is not uncommon to hear of NCS making $3-$8 more per hour than the going nanny pay rate, depending on the market.

That said, no matter how you plan to put additional newborn training to use, it’s bound to offer a career boost. As Sakowicz puts it, "Nannies who want to be considered for positions with a newborn have told us over and over again that this training made all the difference." 

This article was first published by Care.com

Tonya Sakowicz
Founder & CEO
Additional Articles by Tonya: https://newborncaresolutions.com/author/tonya/

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