What Is a Night Nurse and Are They a Good Fit for Your Family?

Here’s the help you may need during those sleepless nights and early weeks being a new parent.

By: Amanda Mushro

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Close up photo of a one week old baby boy with dark hair and eyes open, mixed race, Asian and Caucasian. Australia

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Close up photo of a one week old baby boy with dark hair and eyes open, mixed race, Asian and Caucasian. Australia

Photo by: Vicki Smith

Vicki Smith

Bringing home your baby is such an exciting time, but it’s also exhausting and overwhelming. With plenty of sleepless nights, recovering from delivery, and balancing one or both parents heading back to work immediately, getting up with a baby every few hours throughout the night can take a toll on your mental and physical health. Because those early days are so chaotic, some families choose to hire nighttime assistance, known as a night nurse, baby nurse, or night nanny.

What Is a Night Nurse?

Just like a traditional nanny cares for a child during the day, a night nurse or baby nurse takes on the childcare role at night. These childcare experts specialize in newborn care and begin working in your home in the evening. The night nurse will feed, soothe, and change the baby as well as help with chores to make the morning easier, like cleaning bottles or getting items ready for the morning. If the baby is breastfed, the night nurse will wake the mom so she can feed the baby, and then take the baby back to the nursery so mom can go back to sleep. In the morning, they will leave the baby in your care (and head home to sleep) and return at night for their next shift.

Typically, a night nurse isn’t a long term childcare option. Once the baby starts "sleeping through the night," the night nurse will move on to other families. Often parents will hire the night nurse weeks in advance, but sometimes they will search out the help after the baby is born.

Not all night nurses are registered nurses, but you should look for someone who is newborn CPR certified and has previous experience.

Here’s What Night Nurses Will Do:

  • Feed the baby or bring the baby to mom for breastfeeding
  • Soothe the baby when they wake up
  • Newborn care: cradle cap, reflux, diaper rash
  • Light housework: laundry, cleaning bottles, making bottles for the next day

Here’s What Night Nurses Will Not Do:

  • Care for your older children
  • Housework like cleaning bathrooms or deep cleaning your home
  • Administer health care advice (unless they are registered nurses)

How Much Does a Night Nurse Cost?

While prices vary depending on where you live, a night nurse typically costs $200 a night or more depending on their hours, level of education, and responsibilities. Rates can also increase if the night nurse stays on during the day. Night nurses are definitely not cheap, but for some families, it’s an amazing childcare option.

Who Is a Night Nurse Right for?

  • Families where both parents are working full time and lack parental leave
  • Mothers who had difficult c-sections or births and are recovering
  • Mothers who are managing PPD and or PPA and need to focus on their care and sleep at night
  • Parents who aren’t feeling confident in their newborn child care routines
  • Parents who lack support from their partner

Who Is a Night Nurse Not a Great Option for?

  • If your baby is not a strong breastfeeder and often cluster feeds
  • Parents on a limited childcare budget

What Are the Downsides of a Night Nurse?

The cost! Night nurses are very expensive and not an option for many families. Especially if they are already budgeting for daytime care.

What Are the Pros of a Night Nurse?

Sleep! Many parents feel that having a night nurse allowed them to be more present parents during the day because they are rested.

How Do I Hire a Night Nurse?

In larger cities, many night nurses work with agencies who will help you find a night nurse that meets the qualifications you are looking for in nighttime childcare.

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