What Is a Night Nurse? We Have Answers

for Parents too Exhausted to Do the Research

A Night Nurse or Newborn Care Specialists are an extra set of hands that help new parents out in those wee hours.

  • "Night nurse" and "baby nurse" are outdated terms for what we now call a Newborn Care Specialist, or NCS — people trained to give postpartum help to families.
  • Unlike a live-in nanny, who may be off the clock at a certain time, Newborn Care Specialists come in to help during the overnight hours so new parents can get more sleep.
    Night Nurse Newborn Care Specialist

    Mother Cuddling Baby Daughter At Home

  • Parents should be clear about the responsibilities, costs, and qualifications of a Newborn Care Specialist before they look into how to hire one.

Ask a new parent what the hardest thing is about those first few days and weeks with an infant, and they'll probably all say the same thing: the lack of sleep. Sleep deprivation not only makes it harder to function, it magnifies all other problems to epic proportions. Yes, getting a baby to stop crying is hard — but it's even harder if you've had zero sleep. Getting the hang of breastfeeding can be tough — and the struggle seems insurmountable if you're running on empty. So, what's a new parent to do?

Parents who have the means and are in serious need of some overnight Zs might be interested in hiring a night nurse or baby nurse as an extra pair of hands to help out during those tough overnight hours. But before they hire one, parents should be clear about the duties, responsibilities, and costs of a night nurse.

For starters, "night nurse" and "baby nurse" are outdated terms.

And, in some states, they may be illegal terms, too, even though people are used to calling overnight caregivers night nurses. No one is really allowed to call themselves a nurse unless they're received an R.N., L.V.N., or L.P.N. degree. Many qualified overnight caregivers don't have these degrees, so the International Nanny Association has adopted a new term for people who perform these duties and aren't nurses: Newborn Care Specialist, or NCS. (A postpartum doula may also perform the same duties as an NCS.)

So what does a Newborn Care Specialist do?

The NCS generally comes in for the night shift and helps parents get some more sleep when they bring home a new baby — you know, everything they hoped a "night nurse" would be. "A Newborn Care Specialist is someone who comes into your home and helps a new family get settled in and establish good feeding and sleeping habits," says Tonya Sakowicz, founder and owner of Newborn Care Solutions and co-president of the International Nanny Association.

The main benefit for parents, besides clean dishes and laundry, is more sleep. "Getting good sleep leads to lower risk of postpartum depression and anxiety, better health, better breastmilk supply, more harmony with your partner, being able to function at work, and overall enjoyment of parenthood and life," Clement says. In addition, if you have older children, you'll be more bright-eyed and bushy-tailed to parent them in the morning, too.

How does an NCS differ from a live-in nanny?

If you're thinking of hiring professional help, you have to make sure the services offered best align with your family's needs. Yes, you may be able to hire a nanny who might be in your house at night, but that doesn't mean she'll be able to answer those middle-of-the-night cries. "Just because they're present on the property does not mean they are 'on-call or available to work all the time," Sakowicz says. And if you want to be a good boss — and your nanny to be functional during daylight hours — you're going to have to set a schedule that doesn't involve the nanny being there for 24/7 care.

Nannies, on the other hand, offer help with a wider range of tasks. "Some caregivers are willing to help with additional duties such as family meals, laundry, sibling, and pet care, and so on," Sakowicz says. "However, those things usually fall outside the general duties of a Newborn Care Specialist and are on a case-by-case basis typically negotiated between the NCS and the family."

And then there's the matter of duration — nannies can stay with a family for years, while an NCS usually stays, "up to three or four months with the family to help establish feeding and work towards healthy sleep habits," says Andrea Hedley, Managing Partner of the Newborn Care Specialist Association. Hedley also notes that an NCS deeply understands the ins and outs of those first few months of infancy, while nannies usually cover a wider range of ages.

What does a Newborn Care Specialist cost?

Here is the main drawback: those extra Zs are going to cost you. The rates for an NCS typically range between $25 and $45 per hour, with rates in some cities going as high as $80 per hour.

"As a general rule of thumb, a Newborn Care Specialist tends to be more expensive than a regular day nanny — about 25% to 30% more in most markets," Sakowicz says. "These rates, even within the same market, are highly variable based on the background of the Newborn Care Specialist and the demand for their services." The rates are also higher if the NCS is working with twins or triplets.

Other than the price, some parents struggle with the idea of inviting someone into their home and letting them take part in caring for their baby. "The only drawback I can think of is not getting the right Newborn Care Specialist," Hedley says. "This is a time of change and can be a very sensitive time in your life involving extreme emotions. It is so vital that the person you invite into your home to help during this time is the right fit for you."

"If you're used to doing everything for yourself, letting someone else help is sometimes a struggle," Sakowicz says. "But I promise, the help is worth it! I have clients who still tell me, 18 years later, that the money they spent was absolutely one of the best things they ever did for themselves and their children."

If you're thinking of hiring an NCS, make sure you know what to look for.

You want to have peace of mind when you do drift off to sleep, so make sure you find someone with the right qualifications. "Although it's unregulated in the U.S. at this time, a training that is legitimately accredited by a third-party oversight organization is ideal," Sakowicz says. Here are a few things to check.

  • Look for credentials. Ideally, you'd find an NCS who's accredited with an organization like Newborn Care Solutions, the Newborn Care Specialists Association, or the Newborn Care Training Academy, or who has postpartum doula training. "There are many organizations out there with varying quality level, so it's smart to do a little research on where they've been trained," says Clement. "Or you can contact a training organization you like in order to find someone who's been taught by them."
  • Make sure they have life-saving skills. Ask for infant CPR training (our experts say this is a must) and any first-aid certifications.
  • Ask for non-relative references. The more experience they have with newborns, specifically, the better.
  • It's a red flag if your NCS doesn't sleep. No one can function on zero sleep, not even an NCS. "Do not hire someone who insists on working every night for weeks on end, or is doing 24/7 care with no breaks for more than a week at a time," Clement says. "Don't be afraid to ask when they sleep and do self-care, and be wary if they say they don't need much sleep! Yes, they will sleep when the baby sleeps, but that isn't enough."

This article was first published by Good Housekeeping

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

Related Posts
Bottles for Breast/Chest Feeding Parents

There are many bottles on the market. Each has something that makes it unique. If you have chosen to breast/chest feed your baby, there are many bottles that all claim […]

Read More
Holistic Care For Our Clients May Include Collaborative Approaches

Hello!!!  First of all I really want to thank each and everyone for posting their support for The Butterfly Swaddle. I am very genuinely so proud to be part of […]

Read More
Goodbye Baby Nurse, Hello Newborn Care Specialist

NEWBORN CARE SPECIALISTS: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW Written by Newborn Care Specialists: Alyssa Michael, Amanda King, and Lindsay Johnson  What is a Newborn Care Specialist?  A Newborn Care Specialist, also […]

Read More

More than just training

More skills, More babies, more money.
View All Training

Follow @newborncaresolutions

Join Us
Sign up to our newsletter and get amazing freebies

Newborn Care Solutions logo
Our company is dedicated to providing the very best quality products and service. Happy customers are our number one goal! We strive to be the best in the industry and innovate our products to meet the ever-changing industry needs.
© 2021 Newborn Care Solutions. All rights reserved | Made by a Peanut.