What is a Night Nanny and What do they do?

What is a night nanny? A night nanny’s main priority is caring for your child while you get some much needed rest; there can be much more to hiring a night nanny, however. Let’s discuss the cost, the duties they should/should not perform, and if hiring a night nanny is really worth it.

Introduction

Ever heard of a night nanny and wondered exactly what they might do? Many parents will feel overwhelming exhaustion within the first few months after having a new baby. Night times can be very difficult, especially if your baby is quite wakeful or unsettled, and parents need to be working during the day.

I remember when Andy was teething and he was waking every hour during the night, very unsettled and I still had to go to work the next day and manage a child care centre for a 10 hour shift. Looking back, a night nanny would have been a godsend, but it wasn’t really something I considered, and it wouldn’t have fit into our budget at the time anyway.

So, what exactly does a night nanny do, how much do they cost and where can you find one? Read on as I answer all of these questions and more..

What is a night nanny?

A night nanny is a nanny you hire to work throughout the night, providing you the ability to rest and get a good night’s sleep whether you have just brought a newborn home, or your baby is a little older but still quite unsettled during the night. A night nanny is your child’s caretaker from the hours of around 9 pm to 6 am the next morning, though those hours may be reduced depending on family preference, needs, and income. The night nanny can help new parents with sleep training, feeds, nappy changes and settling your baby overnight.

what is a night nanny
Night nannies can do light household duties that pertain to your child, such as washing bottles, preparing bottles, and washing and sorting baby clothes.

What do they actually do?

A night nanny cares for and watches your baby overnight, whether they’re sleeping, eating, or settling. Night nannies can begin their evening preparing your baby for bed and feeding them, bathing your baby before bed, and can prepare bottles. They can bring your baby to you if they wake during the night and you prefer to breastfeed, or they can bottle feed them. They help by cleaning the bottles afterward and doing the baby’s laundry, if necessary. They can also swaddle, soothe, and rock the baby back to sleep, helping parents get into a sleep routine that is beneficial to both baby and parents.

Does a night nanny need a bed?

A bed, or a nice place to rest, should be provided for your night nanny. If you are uncomfortable with your night nanny sleeping while on duty, this needs to be clarified in beginning interviews. Otherwise, your night nanny can complete any tasks or chores you may have left for them, and then decide whether down time will be spent resting, reading, or quietly watching TV for example.

What is the difference between a night nanny and a night doula?

The difference between a night nanny and a night doula is that the latter not only keeps an eye on the baby but also the mother. A night doula can help with eating and sleeping issues the mother and baby may have, as well as help with lighter kitchen and laundry duty, same as a night nanny. The most important aspect of having a night doula1, however, is that she also watches the mother for postpartum depression, adjustment issues, and can help with her recovery needs.

How much does a night nanny cost in Australia? UK? USA?

As with all child care/babysitting/nanny services, the cost varies, but here are some numbers to give you an idea of how much a night nanny might cost you. In Australia, for two nights a week around the hours of 10pm to 6am, the cost is AUD$900. If you’re looking for 4 nights of respite, around the hours of 6pm to 6am, the total cost is $2600. Night Nannies, an Australian agency, provides information and rates2 to help get you started. In the UK, night nannies cost around £80 – £1503 each night. In the US, for night nanny services, the cost is around USD$200-$2504 per night and they typically work a ten to twelve hour shift. There are also added fees when using an agency.

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What should a night nanny NOT do?

Night nannies are not your housekeeper, your cleaning service, or your servant. They are not there to do laundry for the entire family, prep and prepare food for everyone, and take care of a multitude of household chores. Night nannies are there for you to get much needed rest and for you to have an extra pair of hands for feeding, bathing, changing, and swaddling your child during the night. They should not be expected to work overtime unless asked and given prior notice, and they do not answer to other (older) children in the house.

Do night nannies only offer night services?

No, night nannies can also work during the day. Day nannies can continue nighttime rituals, such as feeding your baby and getting them into a proper sleep routine, as well as light duties such as laundry and dishes that pertain to your child. Depending on your needs and your budget, nannies can also provide feeding consultations, sleep consultations, and even cooking classes to help the entire family get into a routine of proper nutrition.

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Will a night nanny offer advice, or will they take on my sleep philosophies?

Night nannies can offer advice, but they follow their own sleep philosophies that are geared toward a gentle sleep technique5. They can take on board any ideas or philosophies you may have, but your night nanny will probably not be on board with “controlled crying” or crying-it-out methods.

nannies, night nanny
Night nannies can be found through agencies such as Night nannies Australia or ABC Nanny services

Where can you find one?

Night nannies can be found through online sites like Care.com8. You can also seek out independent professionals, though those might be a bit harder to find. You could start hitting up friends that have children and see if any contacts can be made by word-of-mouth, but the easiest place to find a night nanny is through an agency, as described below..

Are there night nanny agencies?

Yes, there are night nanny agencies. Night Nannies Australia has a very extensive list of services from night nannies to day nannies, even if you are just needing assistance for a few hours a day. Au Pair Me Up6 is another agency where you could find a night nanny, or if you’d prefer a live-in, they can also partner you up with a night au pair. If you’re in the Sydney area, ABC Nanny Services7 caters specifically to you.

Advantages of hiring a night nanny

There are many advantages to hiring a night nanny. These include:

1.   Support in the home rather than a phone call consult.

2.   A good night’s rest9 for parents.

3.   An established sleep schedule for the baby – just remember SAFE sleep guidelines.

4.   You can learn sleeping, feeding, and adjustment techniques from your night nanny.

5.   Night nanny can help with light housework like cleaning bottles, preparing formula, and washing baby’s nappies and linens.

6.   Can also help older siblings adjust to the newest newborn addition to the family.

7.   Can be a sounding board for worries and concerns.

8.   Can help mothers identify if they’re struggling with postpartum depression, anxiety, or adjustment issues.

night nanny
Sleepless nights with a wakeful baby can be stressful and have a negative impact on all areas of your life. A night nanny can help parents get a good night’s sleep, provided it fits into your budget.

Disadvantages of hiring a night nanny

Here are a few disadvantages to hiring a night nanny:

1.   The cost of a night nanny can definitely affect your family’s budget, especially if it hasn’t been factored into the monthly expenses.

2.   You as the parent are the nanny’s employer so all conditions, legalities, and concerns need to be ironed out at the very beginning before any contracts have been signed and care has been given.

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3.   Potential loss of family privacy.

4.   Finding the perfect fit for your family may take time. This means numerous interviews and time taken out of work/life schedules to meet with potential candidates.

How can you become a night nanny?

In order to become a night nanny in Australia, there are several criteria that must be met. These requirements, however, vary from agency to agency. Similar requirements across agencies include: Accredited Certification in First Aid or CPR, National Police Clearance, a Working with Children Check, and prior experience working with children. You may also need to be working toward an early childhood qualification, have a minimum number of years working with newborns, understand and demonstrate proper sleeping and feeding techniques, and be of a certain age.

Summary

Unfortunately, as with all things parenting, controversy and doubt can play a role in whether you hire a night nanny or not. There will always be someone who has an opinion, and those that believe a parent needs to do it all. Don’t let the skepticism and derision of others affect whether you reach out for that nighttime support or not.

Night nannies can be a huge help as you learn to navigate the newborn stage for the first time, second time, or even third time. Whether it’s your first baby, second or third, each is different and each newborn wakes up throughout the night needing to be nursed and comforted. If a night nanny is affordable for you, and fits into your family dynamic, give yourself some peace of mind and get a good night’s rest while you can.  

Reference List:

  1. ‘What Is a Postpartum Doula and Should You Hire One?’, Charlotte Hilton Andersen, What to Expect. Published (updated): Sep 15, 2021. Accessed online at https://www.whattoexpect.com/first-year/postpartum/should-you-hire-postpartum-doula/ on March 5, 2023.
  2. Night Nannies Fees, Night Nannies Australia. Accessed online at https://www.nightnannies.com.au/Parents/fees.aspx on March 5, 2023.
  3. ‘Hiring a Night Nanny’, Childcare.co.uk. Accessed online at https://www.childcare.co.uk/information/hiring-a-night-nanny on March 5, 2023.
  4. ‘What is a night nanny? And can you afford to hire one?’, Tolu Ajiboye, NBCNews. Published: Dec 3, 2018. Accessed online at https://www.nbcnews.com/better/pop-culture/what-night-nanny-can-you-afford-hire-one-ncna904871 on March 5, 2023.
  5. Overnight Care Services, Night Nannies Australia. Accessed online at https://www.nightnannies.com.au/Parents/Services.aspx on March 5, 2023.
  6. Night Nanny, Au Pair Me Up, Accessed online at https://www.aupairmeup.com/night-nanny on March 5, 2023.
  7. https://www.abcnannyservices.com.au/
  8. https://www.care.com/en-au/
  9. ‘Night nannies saving parents’ sleep’, Brigid Blackney, The Sydney Morning Herald. Published: Nov 9, 2017. Accessed online at https://www.smh.com.au/business/workplace/night-nannies-saving-parents-sleep-20171109-gzhmzl.html on March 5, 2023.

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