When you look down at the little bundle in your arms, what do you feel? Inexplainable joy? Probably. Insurmountably overwhelmed? More than likely. The first few weeks at home with a newborn can be stressful, sleep-depriving, and may negatively impact your mental and physical health. You also may still be recovering from delivery or a C-section and yet you find yourself pacing the halls in the middle of the night trying to soothe your baby who won’t sleep or latch.

Hiring a professional baby whisperer can and will make life better.

What is a night nurse or baby nurse?

A night nurse or baby nurse is an expert in newborn care who helps new parents during the first few weeks of life at home. Also called “newborn care specialists,” they typically work at night, feeding and changing the baby so Mom and Dad can get some much-needed rest. While they’re called baby nurses, they may not be licensed or registered nurses with medical training. They do, however, have expertise in infant care and development, including feeding, sleep training, CPR, managing multiples, and treating the special needs of preemies or babies with a medical condition.

Some baby nurses are hired by frantic parents during the first few weeks after birth, and others get booked well in advance, visiting the parents-to-be in the hospital and sometimes accompanying them home with the baby. Baby nurses usually help for a few weeks, though some are retained for months. Most work the overnight shift, but some are hired for round-the-clock help.

When deciding to hire a night nurse, make sure you match your candidate to your family’s needs. There are many specialists who work with families and are knowledgeable about infant development and basic eating, sleep care, but not all are baby nurses. For example, the role of night nurse or baby nurse is distinct from that of a postpartum doula or a baby nanny who will remain with the family as the baby grows.

What does a night nurse do?

Baby nurses support families in all aspects of newborn care, such as:

  • Baby feeding, including bringing the baby to Mom for breastfeeding, preparing bottles and helping with latching on or pumping if needed
  • Dealing with baby-specific health issues, like circumcision, diaper rash, reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Soothing the baby and encouraging regular sleep habits
  • Changing and bathing the baby
  • Organizing the nursery and doing the baby’s laundry
  • Keeping a log of sleeping, feeding and changing times to help the family develop a schedule
  • Night nurses generally don’t do household chores unrelated to baby care, nor are they there to babysit older siblings.

What are the benefits of a baby nurse?

A baby nurse can help parents, especially new moms, navigate the first hectic days with a baby. The biggest benefit is that they allow you to sleep, which is a necessity, not a luxury. Studies show that chronic sleep deprivation can increase a new mom’s risk for postpartum depression and inhibit her ability to bond with the baby.  Baby nurses can also teach new parents the ropes, especially if they don’t have family close by. And baby nurses can help you handle a growing family. Some parents hire them to help with newborns so Mom and Dad have time and energy to care for older siblings. Baby nurses can also be lifesavers for new parents of multiples or babies with medical conditions that require special care.

How much does a night nurse cost?

Baby nurses can cost $200 a night or even more, depending on their hours, level of education, responsibilities, the area of the country where you live, and whether you hire one through an agency. Their day rates can run between $350 and $700 depending on their level of experience and whether you have one baby or twins, or they may charge $18 to $30 an hour. They’re not cheap, but they can be worth it to overwhelmed new parents.

How do I find a good baby nurse?

The best way to find a good baby nurse is to ask the nurses at the hospital where you delivered for referrals. Your practitioner or pediatrician may also have suggestions. Word-of-mouth among friends is also a popular way to find a good baby nurse, although you will want to check your candidate’s references and credentials and make sure your baby nurse is experienced and certified in CPR and first-aid. Here at Zealous Baby Care, we have a team of qualified and amazing women ready to work with you. Contact us with inquires and requests.

Are there any downsides?

Most families who hire a baby nurse say it was one of the best decisions they made, despite the cost. The one downside is that some new moms would have preferred to have a supportive partner, parent, or sibling to help with the first few weeks of new parenthood, rather than hiring a night nurse. Nonetheless, reviews of baby nurses tend to be overwhelmingly positive.

Is hiring a baby nurse right for me? 

Hiring a baby nurse is a big decision that depends a lot on your needs and what kind of recovery you’ll have. If you had an easy labor and delivery, have a partner or family member at your side ready to help, and plan to breastfeed full-time, you may not need a night nurse. Social and cultural attitudes may factor in as well.

Some parents say hiring a baby nurse gave them incredible peace of mind and allowed them to enjoy every moment as a new parent. Others say they wouldn’t want a stranger interfering with the parent-infant bond. The bottom line is that it’s a personal choice, and one you have to make with your partner if you have one to determine whether it’s right for you and an expense, you’re willing to take on.