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Curious About Having a 'Night Nurse'? All the Answers, Including the Cost
Updated on
March 4, 2024

Curious About Having a 'Night Nurse'? All the Answers, Including the Cost

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Curious About Having a 'Night Nurse'? All the Answers, Including the Cost.
Curious About Having a 'Night Nurse'? All the Answers, Including the Cost

One of the most anxiously anticipated aspects of the newborn period is the whole sleep situation. Babies are born without an established circadian rhythm, meaning they’re likely to be up multiple times throughout the night. They’re also busy growing and developing (at a rapid rate), which means they’re going to want to feed frequently (about every two to four hours). But not getting enough sleep can be really challenging for new parents.

While things will level out eventually, and your days of sleepless nights are numbered, the possibility of having an extra set of hands overnight while baby is a newborn can sound super appealing for most (if not all) new parents.

If you don’t have friends or family close by who are willing and able to help out with the night shift (or you don’t want to ask for help) don’t worry—there is help out there. Formerly known as “night nurses,” Newborn Care Specialists (NCS) provide overnight care for newborn babies and support for new parents getting the swing of things.

What Is a Night Nurse?

Night nurse, baby nurse, overnight nanny—you might be thinking “Aren’t they all the same thing?” Not quite. There are many different names and terms for someone who comes in and helps parents with the overnight shift, and it can get a little confusing—here’s what to know.

A night nurse is historically someone hired to come in and tend to a newborn overnight so parents can get some sleep. But the term “night nurse” is actually outdated (it turns out you can’t legally call yourself a nurse if you’re not licensed). The modern-day title for this person is a Newborn Care Specialist (NCS).

You may also have heard the term “night nanny,” and though it sounds similar, there is a difference. While a night nanny performs most of the same practical overnight care, an NCS goes through training in all areas of newborn care (including sleep, feeding, preemies and car seat safety) to ultimately become certified.

Postpartum doulas are another role that has some overlap with newborn care specialists; however, their main focus is supporting the birthing parent.

What does a newborn care specialist do?

“The goal of an NCS is to educate and empower parents in those first few months with their baby, which can often feel overwhelming,” says Andrea Hedley, Newborn Care Specialist and founder of the Newborn Care Specialist Association (NCSA). They provide all necessary overnight infant care and work with parents to teach them how to take care of their infant as well as offering advice and support.

The tasks a newborn care specialist typically performs during their shift include:

They’ll also teach parents the basics of having a newborn and plus tips and tricks for how to care for them during their time working with the family.

Most families start with three to four nights per week and taper off as the weeks go by. You’ll likely be able to work out an individual schedule with whoever you hire based on what your family needs.

What training do newborn care specialists receive?

“While there are currently no certifications or licensing required for someone to call themselves a newborn care specialist, there are training and certification opportunities available,” says Bryn Arouh, a certified NCS and the founder of AZ Family Foundations.

In addition to the training courses, NCSs also need to complete a certain amount of hands-on experience hours and pass an exam before they’re officially certified. Arouh recommends choosing someone who has completed training through programs recognized by either the NCSA or the International Nanny Association for the highest quality of care.

Benefits of Having a Night Nurse

The number one benefit of hiring overnight help with your newborn is more sleep for you! But that’s not all. “New parents who have quality postpartum support tend to heal faster if they have given birth and have lower rates of postpartum mood disorders,” Hedley says, “[and] these benefits increase exponentially for families with twins and triplets.”

Having someone there to coach you through this brand-new experience takes so much pressure off of tired parents trying to navigate the unknown. And having support of any kind is a protective factor in preventing perinatal mood disorders.

We asked a few Babylist parents who hired overnight help what they felt was the most beneficial aspect—here’s what they shared:

  • “Aside from the sleep piece, she helped teach me how to do everything. It was almost like having a real-life instruction manual.”
  • “Truthfully, I am from/live in New York where baby nurses are pretty common, so all of my friends had them and I was mainly following suit, but I’m so glad I did. I think another big reason beyond sleep is just that you have no idea what you’re doing, and one of the benefits of a nurse, in the beginning, is they teach you tricks of the trade—how to change a diaper (I had never before I had kids!), how to burp, how to bathe, the list goes on…”
  • “On the day that we brought the baby home, mom hadn’t had a great night of sleep in nearly a week and dad hadn’t actually slept more than 30 minutes in 3 days. The first night home was the scariest. We didn’t have any family members or close friends in our area who we could ask for help. On the morning of day 2, [one of us] had a small panic attack about not being awake/aware enough to make sure the baby was safe. We called them the same day and they came the next night (and we finally got some much-needed sleep).”

In addition to helping parents get more sleep, newborn care specialists also provide valuable parenting support. They essentially offer parents “how-to” advice when it comes to the actual nitty-gritty of caring for a newborn baby. Which is great because babies don’t come with a manual (as much as we wish they did!).

Can I Afford a Night Nurse?

The cost of hiring a newborn care specialist varies depending on who you’re hiring, how long they’ll be working with your family and where you live. The parents we spoke to who hired overnight help with their babies spent around $300 per night. According to the Newborn Care Specialist Association, the average rate for an NCS is between $25-$65 per hour.

“Parents should [also] consider that most newborn care specialists charge a higher hourly fee if they are not able to rest overnight. When an NCS cannot rest overnight it’s referred to as Awake Care,” says Arouh. This is typically a consideration for parents with “medically fragile infants who have been sent home with the recommendation of around-the-clock monitoring” Arouh adds. It’s typical that an NCS is able to rest when the baby is sleeping.

Although newborn care specialists aren’t covered by insurance, most NCSs will have their own unique packages and pricing structures. They’ll also work with parents to find a schedule that works for their families.

The idea of hiring overnight care can seem financially out of reach for most families. But many people are finding a way to work this valuable help into their budget. In fact, we recommend adding it to your registry using the cash fund feature if it’s something you’re interested in!

How to Find a Newborn Care Specialist

There are a few ways to go about finding a night nurse, but first and foremost, if you’re even remotely interested in hiring someone, we recommend starting early and planning ahead. “Many newborn care specialists book 4-6 months in advance, and if they have repeat clients, they may be booked as soon as the client knows they are expecting another child,” says Arouh. It’s a good idea to make a list of a few that stand out, just in case your first choice isn’t available.

As far as the actual search, here’s how to find a newborn care specialist in your area:

Ask around: Just as you would when searching for a doula or a daycare, start with your circle of friends. And then ask your friends to ask their friends—word-of-mouth recommendations are always great because you’ll get first-hand reviews. Checking local parenting groups on Facebook is a great idea as well.

Look online: You can do a Google search for local night nurses and there are a couple of websites that offer a directory of candidates. Two to check out are the NCSA website (they’ll even help match you with someone in your area) and the International Nanny Association.

Once you find a few candidates, you’ll want to set up an interview to get a feel for their training, methods and philosophies. Here are some questions we recommend asking:

  • What kind of training, certifications and experience do you have?
  • How many families have you worked with?
  • Ask for references
  • Are you CPR certified?
  • Are you up to date on immunizations?
  • How do you support families’ feeding decisions?
  • What is your philosophy on care?
  • What methods do you use to soothe fussy babies?
  • What is your preferred method for helping a family with a sleep schedule?
  • What do you believe makes you a great NCS?

A couple of other things to consider during the hiring process are performing a background check and getting together a contract once you choose someone (though they may already have their own contract).

Having a baby is a major life shift. Having an extra set of hands the first few weeks as you adjust to sleep-less nights and figure out how to care for a new tiny person can help ease the transition.

EXPERT SOURCES

Bryn Arouh, PPD, NCS, CPPNP, mom of three and founder of AZ Family Foundations which has been supporting families 1:1 for over nine years.

Andrea Hedley, NCS is a Newborn Care Specialist and Infant Sleep Educator with a career dedicated to supporting healthy attachment between infants and their parents. She is also the Founder and President of the Newborn Care Specialist Association which is a 501(c)(3) non-profit industry association set up to establish certification, standards and best practices for newborn care specialists and helps ensure quality, safety, and consistency across the industry.


Briana Engelbrecht

Assistant Editor

Briana Engelbrecht is the Assistant Editor at Babylist, where she brings her passion for early childhood development and experience as a mom of two to Babylist articles and product guides. A former preschool teacher, she loves children’s picture books, cats, plants and making things.

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