Let’s begin with the definition: A baby nurse isn’t technically a nurse. Instead, a baby nurse specializes in caring for—you guessed it—infants. In fact, the International Nanny Association uses the term newborn care specialist to further clarify the individual’s role. So a baby nurse may or may not have nursing training or credentials, but the baby nurse will most definitely be an expert in feeding, bathing, diapering, and soothing tiny humans.
Welcoming a baby into your home is as stressful as it is joyful. A baby nurse can help smooth the transition, particularly in the case of multiple births or for a mother recovering from a challenging birth. But plenty of new parents hire a baby nurse because they feel safer and happier having an expert nearby. As April Berube, owner of the domestic staffing agency The Wellington Agency, points out, “reading books and actually having a newborn baby are so different.” Hiring a baby nurse helps new parents adjust to their new life as parents. “It’s about the comfort level.”
What is a baby nurse and how can they help with my newborn?
In a nutshell: A baby nurse takes care of the baby, and only the baby. A postpartum doula, in contrast, will focus more holistically on the family, ensuring that everyone feels supported, while a nanny may be tasked with looking after other kids or performing duties around the house like cooking or laundry. But a baby nurse will be singularly focused on the baby.
Generally a baby nurse works either a 12-hour shift (night or day) or a 24-hour shift. During the day, the baby nurse can feed and play with your newborn while you run errands, take care of other kids, or nap; the baby nurse can also bath or change your newborn. A night baby nurse attends to the baby during the night—feeding, rocking, or calming—to ensure that you get good, solid sleep. Some baby nurses specialize in sleep training.
Most baby nurses stay with a family for around three months, enough time to give new parents a thorough grounding in basic infant care. However, as Berube explains, if a baby nurse will be sleep training your infant—an increasingly popular request—the baby nurse may stay with your family for six months to a year.
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How to Hire a Baby Nurse in NYC
Start Your Search for a Baby Nurse in NYC Early
Some families begin searching for a baby nurse immediately upon confirming a pregnancy. Others seek help only after a difficult birth or an issue occurs, such as an infant with trouble sleeping through the night. Because you’ll want to allow plenty of time to find and select the ideal baby nurse for your family, Berube advises beginning your search sooner rather than later. In New York, she says, “baby nurses get booked up at least six months in advance.”
How much does a baby nurse in NYC cost?
On average, a baby nurse costs between $220 and $800 per 24 hours. This fee might go up or down, depending on the length of shift, number of babies, and responsibilities. For example, parents of triplets who hire an experienced, credentialed baby nurse for a 24-hour shift may spend upwards of $1,800 a day.
Speak Directly with References
Some agencies, such as The Wellington Agency, provide all kinds of domestic help, from baby nurses to house managers to chefs and chauffeurs. The advantage of going with an agency is it carefully vets its employees, including securing multiple references and running background checks. Another way to find a baby nurse is by seeking recommendations from friends or family, posting in a Facebook group, or asking your pediatrician.
Regardless of whether you go for an agency or contract with a private individual, you’ll want to chat directly with the baby nurse’s references after your initial interview with the baby nurse. Berube advises checking in with three or four families with whom the baby nurse has recently worked, and “really speak to them…parent-to-parent.”
Be Prepared to Share Information
In addition to learning about the baby nurse’s experience and caregiving style, you should be prepared to share information about your family, especially your lifestyle and expectations. A good agency will be interviewing you to ensure you’re staffed with the perfect baby nurse—after all, this person will be spending huge chunks of time in your home with your little one. These days, you’ll want to find out how the agency or nurse protects against the spread of COVID-19.
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Hire a Back-up Baby Nurse
Along with your primary baby nurse, you’ll want to hire a relief baby nurse. As Berube explains, having a relief baby nurse means you can give your primary baby nurse breaks, days off, and even vacations. Families need to “think about the baby nurse as a person,” she advises. Taking time off ensures a better standard of care for your newborn.
Originally publish on NYMetroParents.com
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Jessica Allen writes about food, culture, travel, and New York City, where she lives.