So What Exactly Does a Night Nurse Do?

You read all the baby books, did your kegels religiously and watched way too many YouTube clips about labor and delivery (let’s be real—even one video is too many). But nothing can truly prepare you for parenthood—specifically, the lack of sleep. If only there were someone who could take care of those middle-of-the-night feeds for you and also show you the ropes when it comes to swaddling and sleep training. Oh, but there is. Here’s what you need to know about night nurses.

What are they? Night nurses, also known as night nannies, are childcare providers who take care of your infant at night while you, the exhausted, sleep-deprived parent, catch up on some much-needed shut-eye. Did you see the Charlize Theron movie Tully? It’s that.

Sounds amazing. Tell me more. Night nurses can be hired for several weeks (or longer) following the birth. Some parents employ them every night while others use them on a part-time basis. And while exact services vary, in general, a night nurse will come over in the evening to help you put your infant to bed and then tend to them all night (diaper changes, swaddling, soothing, etc.). Many night nurses are also certified newborn care specialists, who can help teach you about bathing, sleep training, creating a healthy feeding schedule and more. (Although it’s worth knowing that despite the name, night nurses are non-medical professionals.) They then leave in the morning and do it all over again the next night. Yep, they’re basically the nocturnal version of Mary Poppins.

But what about breastfeeding? The specifics will be up to you, but if you’re breastfeeding, night nurses will either bottle-feed what you’ve pumped earlier or rouse mom from her slumber so that she can nurse.

And how much does it cost? As you may have guessed, these angels sent from heaven don’t come cheap. While prices differ per nanny or agency, the average cost per night (typically a 12-hour shift) is $200 to $300. Yikes. But hey, for some parents (especially those who have had a difficult labor or moms of multiples), that’s a small price to pay for a chance at shut-eye.

I’m interested. How do I find one? Talk to friends and co-workers for personal recommendations, ask your online parenting group or enlist the help of an agency. Make sure to meet with a few different nurses, be up-front about your expectations and check their references (the International Nanny Association is a great resource for any questions you may have). Sweet dreams.

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