How Night Nannies Provide Help to Parents of Newborns

Baby boy and teddy bears in crib at night

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For many new parents, especially those who work outside the home on a full-time basis, the hardest part of having a newborn is the lack of sleep. Sleep deprivation is a common problem with new parents as most parents find out quickly that it is very difficult to sleep when the baby sleeps

Getting extra support is very important during those first few months. For families where both parents work full-time, parents of multiples, older parents, or even parents of fussy infants who wake up frequently all night, a good solution might be hiring a night nanny.

Night nannies, also known as baby nurses or newborn specialists, are gaining in popularity as an option to help exhausted new parents get much-needed sleep. Night nannies are typically employed for about four-to-six weeks up to three months for single births--often longer if there are multiples--and are used to help establish sleep and feeding schedules.

Arrangements may differ on how many nights each week a night nanny is used; some parents opt for flexible arrangements such as every other night, some for work nights, and others for every night of the week. Hours vary as well, with a typical arrangement being from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. Hiring a baby nurse who helps you 24 hours a day is also an option.

How Much a Night Nanny Costs

Not surprisingly, the answer is that "it depends." Costs for night nannies obtained through an agency may be from $12 to $25 an hour. Parents who find a person who is found by word-of-mouth rather than going through an agency may come at a lesser fee.

However, parents need to keep in mind that agency-provided nannies have typically undergone background checks and training whereas one that is found via word-of-mouth may require additional review, reference checks, and background checks before using.

Why the Use of Night Nannies Is on the Rise

Reasons typically cited include the delay of parenting until older means that women may not be able to rely as readily on their own mother or mother-in-law because they too are older. Since many families are more transient than generations past, there may be no family members nearby to help.

High-stress jobs with long working hours or commutes or having multiples makes the notion of employing a night nanny more desirable as well. Finally, more newborn specialists are being utilized because there is a growing awareness that this type of service exists, especially in major metropolitan areas.

Having a great night's sleep for new parents means they most likely will be better and more attentive parents during their waking hours to their newborn. Also, night nannies certainly are able to teach newbie parents about raising babies and creating consistency and a workable routine in the home!

What New Parents Should Look for in a Night Nanny

During an interview, consider whether the candidate has the following:

  • Experience: Has the applicant worked in this type of position before? Ask lots of questions about how long the person has been doing this, typical time spent with each family, why the job is appealing, and whether they are still in touch with family members.
  • References: Check references carefully. After all, you are trusting someone to be in your home with your precious baby while you are asleep!
  • Comfort Level: Are you comfortable with using a night nanny? If not, you're defeating the purpose of employing one, as you most likely won't sleep well anyway.
  • Affordability: Can you afford a night nanny? Knowing that the arrangement is usually temporary makes employing a person to care for your newborn at night easier but run the figures first to make sure it's within your household budget.

By Robin McClure
 Robin McClure is a public school administrator and author of 6 parenting books.