Should You Be a Night Nanny?
Understand this specialized role and decide if it's right for you.
Looking for a nanny job? Have you ever thought about being a night nanny? It might be just the career for you. "All kinds of different personalities can do this job," says Nancy Hamm of the Newborn Care Specialist Association (NCSA).
But before you make the shift to the overnight shift, know that being a night nanny isn't just like being a nanny, during the day. Speaking from her own experience, Mimi Brady, director of Westside Nannies' San Francisco location, says, "Doing nighttime work really is so different." It's important to go into an overnight position with a clear understanding of what the job entails.
Read on for the ins and outs of night nannying to decide if this job is the right fit for you.
Know the Pros and Cons
Overnight shifts don't involve going to the playground, making craft projects or building forts. "A lot of the work in the middle of the night is not the fun stuff," says Brady. "It's the dirty work." It will be your responsibility to deal with inconsolable infants and sick kids.
The long nights can pay off, however. Brady says night nannies "can make a ton of money." In most parts of the country, overnight care for one baby pays $22-25 per hour. In large cities, that rate can go up to $30-35 per hour.
Understand the Schedule
"Make sure that you have a schedule that can allow you rest," advises Brady. You might go into an overnight job with the assumption that you'll sleep while the kids sleep, but you don't. You might get some rest, but don't expect to settle into a deep sleep. You're on the clock. Some families expect you to keep your eyes open the whole time you're on duty.
Hamm emphasizes that night nannies and newborn care specialists have to get training. The NCSA offers a certification test for newborn care specialists. To prepare for the exam, training is available from approved educational sources. Candidates must also have 1,800 hours of experience.
Additional preparation includes receiving CPR and first-aid training, being up-to-date on vaccinations and undergoing a background check. Parents will sleep more soundly knowing the person in their home "has all the bells and whistles," explains Brady.
Define Your Role
There are different situations in which families hire a night nanny, and it's important to decide which role is right for you. Some parents are looking for an overnight caregiver for children of any age. If a child doesn't feel well in the night or has a nightmare, the nanny is the person he or she comes to. This is usually a situation where the family has a live-in nanny or the overnight caregiver is one of two or more nannies employed by the family. Or maybe a parent has to travel overnight and needs someone to stay with the child on an occasional basis.
More common, however, are night nannies hired to care for babies. They are also called baby nurses or newborn care specialists. Sometimes a nanny's role is to watch over an infant while they sleep or sleep train an older baby who hasn't yet learned to sleep all night.
Newborn care specialists are "someone who will go into the home and educate or assist new parents," explains Hamm. A newborn care specialist is a highly educated, experienced professional who teaches parents how to care for their infants. These caregivers assume the responsibilities of overnight care, such as feeding (or taking the baby to Mom for breastfeeding), burping and changing and can also assist with special-needs issues or be involved in sleep training.
Find Your Clients
Once you've decided night nannying is a fit, create a profile on a site like Care.com. Include information about your training and experience in this area. Parents will feel more comfortable hiring a caregiver who has the credentials to prove she's trustworthy and reliable. You can also talk to local obstetricians and pediatricians about advertising your services to their patients.
Night nannying can be a challenging, but rewarding, career. Once you've made the decision to go this route, make sure you're properly trained for its unique tasks, and then embrace the role and search for clients.
Meghan Ross is a freelance writer. Her work can be found here.