Goodbye Baby Nurse, Hello Newborn Care Specialist

Written by Newborn Care Specialists: Alyssa Michael, Amanda King, and Lindsay Johnson 

What is a Newborn Care Specialist? 

A Newborn Care Specialist, also known as an NCS, is a professional postpartum care provider that generally supports families for the first 0-16 weeks after baby’s arrival, with some continuing to provide support for the first year of baby’s life. An NCS has taken in-depth training and education courses pertaining to newborns and infants, and has a specialized skill set to provide optimal care for their clients. To meet each family’s individual needs, an NCS may provide care during the day, overnight, 24/7, and travel support. Newborn Care Specialists educate and work alongside primary caregivers, stay up to date on evidence-based care techniques, and practice effective communication with other members of the household. 

Newborn Care Specialists will stay current on practices and recommendations from professional health organizations such as The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), The World Health Organization (WHO), and The Center for Disease Control (CDC). 

The hourly rate for an NCS typically ranges from $25-$50+, but varies depending on multiple factors including location, expected duties, number of babies, experience, education, and qualifications.

What an NCS is not: 

Newborn Care Specialists are not medical professionals. They cannot provide medical advice, medical care, or perform procedures, unless also licensed and qualified to do so

There has been some recent confusion with the terms “night nurse” and “baby nurse.” To officially document for families and other providers, the word nurse is heavily regulated in the United States, and no one should be calling themselves a nurse without the appropriate licensing and credentials. Please do not use this term in reference to having in-home, overnight childcare focused on the newborn.

NCS duties do not typically include errands, culinary work, household management duties, household maintenance duties, household yard duties, pet care, sibling care, and cleaning duties beyond the nursery. While there are some Newborn Care Specialists who may provide these services, they are not standard and should not be expected without prior agreement.

What an NCS does: 

A Newborn Care Specialist educates families on best practices such as swaddling basics, bathing, circumcision and umbilical cord care, safe sleep, and safe human milk and formula storage and preparation. An NCS possesses the ability to identify and troubleshoot parental concerns involving their newborn(s) and may suggest other professional resources. An NCS should be knowledgeable about common medical procedures and issues concerning newborns, and provide only evidence-based information. Newborn Care Specialists should also recognize when a family’s needs are beyond the scope of practice of the NCS, and may have a referral list of local specialized professionals, such as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), Pediatric Dentist, or a local Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST).

Newborn Care Specialists assist in establishing healthy sleep habits by following AAP Safe Sleep Guidelines, and providing responsive care. An NCS has training and experience using effective soothing techniques geared toward newborns, and is equipped with a multitude of gentle sleep shaping practices which reduces the need to use extended-crying methods. 

An NCS supports each family’s individual feeding plan which may include preparing and feeding bottles, or bringing the baby to parents to feed. They can provide daytime routine building, if desired, by using their knowledge and overall awareness of baby’s development to create a customized plan. Newborn Care Specialists will engage babies in age-appropriate activities to help support their physical development, and language and social-emotional skills.

Newborn Care Specialists will perform other non-medical care pertaining to the baby including diapering, activity logs, washing and sterilizing bottles and pumping equipment, nursery stocking and organization, and baby’s laundry. 

What to look for in an NCS: 

A professional Newborn Care Specialist has in-depth training specifically in newborn care. They actively seek new educational opportunities, and often have at least 1-2 years of experience working with babies under 6 months old. 

While certification is not required or regulated, it does display a certain level of commitment and professionalism. There are two third-party certifying bodies: Newborn Care Specialist Association (NCSA) and Council for Awards in Care, Health, and Education (CACHE). There is a difference between having a “certificate of completion or training” and being “certified” by the NCSA or CACHE.  

Most Newborn Care Specialists are also members of professional associations such as the Newborn Care Specialist Association (NCSA), International Nanny Association (INA), Childbirth and Postpartum Association (CAPPA), Doulas of North America (DONA), as well as others. 

Working with an NCS: 

When a family chooses to work with an NCS, there are a few nuances that might not be common knowledge. Contract signing is often required, and an NCS may require a retainer as they frequently book out 6+ months in advance. While sleep is never guaranteed when providing overnight care, a flat sleeping surface may be required so the NCS may rest while the baby is sleeping. Some Newborn Care Specialists will provide awake care when requested, often at a higher hourly rate.

There are several ways to find an NCS, the most common are word-of-mouth referrals, personal advertising, and using an agency. There are different types of agencies, please look into how the agency operates and how they pay their care providers - not every agency is created equally. Also, please refer to local and federal tax laws to determine what type of employment classification the NCS falls under. 

In conclusion, a Newborn Care Specialist is an incredible asset to expanding families, and our goal in writing this is to help provide clarity and guidance about what an NCS is and is not, how they support families, and what to look for in an NCS. While we continue to grow and bring awareness and higher standards to this industry, please keep in mind that information changes rapidly. It’s always best to stay as up to date as possible on these topics in order to make the most well-informed decision for you and your family. 

Students in the same Elite Newborn Care Specialist (NCS) program, Alyssa, Amanda, and Lindsay, came to the conclusion that the market currently lacks a clear definition of what an NCS actually is. Even worse, they realized that families are often misinformed about expectations and are misled to work with self-titled “baby-nurses” or “night-nurses.”  Together they hope to share factual information about the Newborn Care Specialist industry.

If there are any questions, comments, or concerns, please never hesitate to reach out to any of us.

Alyssa Michael, Advanced NCS
The Joyful Baby Company LLC

Amanda King, Adv. CNCS 
Sweet Lullabies LLC

Lindsay Johnson, CACHE Certified NCS
All Baby Newborn Care, LLC

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