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What is a night nurse and do you need one?
Published on Feb 09, 2022. By Amy Roach
night nurse holding baby

Every parent of a newborn has faced that moment in the middle of the night when the baby is crying mercilessly and you’ve been pacing back and forth for hours thinking, I would do anything to get some sleep right now!!

It's a tried-and-true ritual of parenting, but the sleepless nights that go with raising a newborn can really wreak havoc on your health and on any hopes of having productive days. With that in mind, many parents today are embracing the idea of a night nurse as a saving grace.

As with any time you consider bringing someone into your home to care for your child, there’s lots to investigate. You’re probably wondering, what is a night nurse? What are the night nurse costs? What does a night nurse do? How to find a night nurse? All valid questions with important answers. Let’s dive in:

In this article:

  • What is a night nurse?
  • What does a night nurse do?
  • Do I need a night nurse?
  • What are night nurse costs?
  • How to find a night nurse?
  • What is a night nurse? 

The phrase “night nurse” is a little old-fashioned, but the idea certainly has legs. Generally speaking, a night nurse is a caretaker whose main role is overseeing your baby’s nighttime needs. (A typical shift for a night nurse would be something like 10 pm to 6 am.)

Many families go through agencies to find a fully vetted night nurse with appropriate experience caring for newborns. In general, people working as night nurses are typically trained in one or more of the following:

  • Infant care
  • Infant feeding
  • Infant CPR

They may be nannies or childcare specialists without formal medical training, or they may be doulas, registered nurses, or some other kind of healthcare clinician.

What does a night nurse do?

Of course, there is a lot of variation in the exact parameters surrounding what does a night nurse do—and you’ll need to specify those parameters when hiring a night nurse—but the main goal of having a night nurse is for them to take over childcare so you can get some much needed rest. Some of the common tasks include:

  • Nighttime feedings: bringing baby to mom (and taking baby back post-feeding) if baby is being breastfed; handling preparation and feeding of bottles if baby is formula-fed 
  • Set up/cleaning of breast pumps if mom is pumping during the night
  • Diapering/changing
  • Bathing (if necessary)
  • Playing with baby
  • Getting baby to sleep
  • Overall care/care advice: Night nurses have seen it all and can be very helpful assisting parents with nighttime concerns/troubleshooting 

Night nurses are not typically expected to perform non-baby household tasks like cleaning or laundry, etc. at night. Their main goal is to take care of your little one so you can sleep.

Do I need a night nurse?

Any parent who could benefit from additional sleep is likely to answer an enthusiastic “yes!” to the question of, Do I need a night nurse? There is no wrong answer to the question, either. Generally speaking, agencies report that the families who most often choose to hire a night nurse are those where:

  • One parent is unavailable often due to work or travel
  • The family does not have a support network nearby
  • Parents of multiples
  • Parents having a baby with other young children in the house

In these scenarios, getting a good night’s rest is either harder or considered crucial enough that the parents decide the expense of a night nurse is well worth it. 

How much does a night nurse cost?

Determining what are night nurse costs will largely depend on the area in which you live. Like all things related to child care, if you’re living in a large urban area, expect hourly wages to be higher than if you make your home in a small town or a suburb that is not close to a metro area. Other factors that can impact night nurse costs include the nurse’s:

  • Education 
  • Responsibilities
  • Experience
  • Whether or not you use an agency

In general, night nurses are not cheap—it’s a coveted service that comes at a premium. Expect to pay somewhere in the range of $18-$40 per hour or $150-$300 per night. 

That cost contributes to the decision of for how long to hire a night nurse. While some parents do it for only a few days or weeks as a way to relieve the stress of the earliest days, it’s not uncommon for a family to retain a night nurse for the first several months or until baby is regularly sleeping through the night. 

How to find a night nurse?

Selecting a night nurse is an important task and one you want to start before baby arrives. You’ll need to vet this person very closely and also make sure you feel comfortable with them ahead of time. 

The best source of referrals to find a night nurse include:

  • Your OBGYN practitioner or pediatrician 
  • The nurses at the hospital where you plan to deliver
  • Friends/other area moms
  • Online or social media mom groups
  • A local nanny agency

You can also search through the Newborn Care Specialist Association and the International Nanny Association for referrals and recommendations. 

Whether it’s viewed as an ongoing necessity for your busy life and family or a short-term luxury to maintain your sanity, hiring a night nurse can be a game-changer for many families.

Be sure to do your due diligence and find a night nurse with the credentials, demeanor, cost, and experience that will leave you feeling comfortable—and look forward to getting some much-needed sleep!

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