by Lisa Stipe
A baby has been born and the new parents would like some assistance for the first few weeks, just to get them rolling into this whole parenthood thing. Maybe they already have a newborn and they just want to know that they can get a full night’s rest so that they can function during the day as normally as possible. Maybe they have a premature baby or multiples and are feeling overwhelmed and sleep deprived. New parents now have options for help that do not include keeping their mother-in-law for an extra week or hiring a long-term, full-time nanny (at least not immediately!)
There are women who make their living caring for newborns on a temporary basis. They come with years of experience with newborns. They care for premature infants, multiples, babies on monitors, and healthy singletons.
Newborn Care Specialists are hired on a temporary basis – usually anywhere from two to twelve weeks – to come into the home and nurture and manage the care of the newborn(s) while mom recovers from childbirth and to provide emotional and educational support to the new parents. Newborn Care Specialists usually live in the clients’ home for these weeks, making themselves available to the clients and their newborn 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Alternatively, they will come into the home during the night only and care for the baby while the exhausted new parents get a full night’s rest.
Newborn Care Specialists provide expertise in all aspects of newborn care. The primary responsibility of a Newborn Care Specialist is the everyday care of the newborn(s). They are not responsible for household duties except for those relating directly to the newborn. This includes feeding; burping; changing; cord and circumcision care; cuddling; providing a stimulating environment; administering and logging medications; and attending to monitors (if applicable) as well as bathing; sterilizing, preparing and cleaning bottles; keeping a log of the baby’s patterns, including eating, sleeping, elimination, and moods; and doing baby laundry and preparing bottles. Responsibilities also include educational and emotional support to the parents and light care and emotional support of the new mother. Many professional Newborn Care Specialists are experienced in sleep training, and will make it their top priority to transition a baby into a regular routine and work to get him to sleep through the night at an age and weight that is appropriate. They will feed the baby with formula or breast milk from a bottle, or they will bring a nursing infant to the mother and help get him positioned and latched on properly. When a nursing infant is finished eating, the Newborn Care Specialist will retrieve the baby, burp him, and settle him back to sleep if it is nighttime or encourage a wakeful period during the day. These professionals do not usually care for siblings, although a good one will work with siblings and other family members to welcome the new baby and help him integrate into the family.
Because many families cannot afford the costly rates of a professional Newborn Care Specialist, some of these ladies are now working as consultants, teaching parents newborn care techniques and sleep training in their home or even via email. With this alternative, a parent gets a “crash course” in infant care, including tricks on changing diapers, getting burps to come up, giving baths, getting organized, and of course establishing a routine. In the capacity of consultant, the Newborn Care Specialist comes to the home for a few hours during the day for anywhere from one day to two weeks, and she normally charges by the hour. She may also do consulting via telephone or email. Many of these professionals specialize in the care of preemies and multiples.
Another area of consulting that is now available to parents is nursery preparation. Many parents find it completely overwhelming to create their baby registries, and end up receiving many gifts that they are unable to use. A nursery preparation consultant will help parents determine exactly what items they should register for. The consultant will also educate the parents on the different products on the market so they can make an informed decision about the products they include on their registry. The consultant will educate the client on the pros and cons of different products including bottles, sleep positioners, pacifiers, and blankets, just to name a few. Did you know, for example, that you can’t swaddle a baby in just any blanket? Most are too small; some are too stretchy; and some are too thick. This is just one trick that a nursery preparation consultant or Newborn Care Specialist will teach a new parent!
The fees for Newborn Care Specialists vary, depending upon the client’s needs, their geographical location, the number of newborns, and the experience of the caregiver. For example, parents in the D.C. area will typically pay more than parents in Ohio. A night care specialist (often known as a night nanny) will range from about $13 to as much as $30 an hour, and parents can expect to pay a small premium for an infant on a monitor or who has other minor medical issues. Daily rates (24/7) range from about $300 to upwards of $500 per day. Consulting rates range from $20 on the low end to as much as $75 an hour, on the high end. For more information on Newborn Care Specialists, visit http://www.nannyfornewborns.com/.
Lisa Stipe is a working Newborn Care Specialist and infant sleep trainer and is the owner of Nanny for Newborns.