Interview questions to ask a night nanny or night nurse

May 24, 2021

You’ve decided to hire a night nanny or night nurse and you’ve narrowed down your candidates — congratulations! A feat in and of itself. But now that you’ve got your short list, time to compile a list of important interview questions that will help you find “the one.”

“The early stages of new parenthood are an extremely sensitive time, involving big emotions. It’s vital that the person you invite into your home to help is the right fit for you as a family,” notes Andrea Hedley, executive director and founder of the Newborn Care Specialist Association (NCSA). “It’s also important to remember that the person your friend loved and recommended might not be the right fit for you for reasons you may not be able to explain. When searching for nighttime support, make sure candidates are happy to spend time with you during the selection process, and answer any questions you may have.”

Have a million questions for your potential night nanny or night nurse but aren’t sure where to begin? Here, experts offer some guidance and sample questions. 

Here’s the difference between a night nanny and a night nurse 

The choice to hire either a night nanny or a night nurse is up to you, but before you make the leap, be sure to know the difference between the two. 

A night nanny is a professional nanny that new parents can hire to support with overnight feeding, diapering and basic care for their newborn. Many families then keep the nanny on long-term to provide child care beyond the initial first weeks or months. Night nannies do not necessarily have specific certification in newborn care. “A night nanny is someone who has newborn experience, but isn’t trained in newborn care, and doesn’t provide education, support or referrals to parents,” Morgan notes. Nannies supporting families at night also may be doing so as an add-on to their regular daytime shift.

Technically speaking, a night nurse, also sometimes referred to as a baby nurse, is an outdated term for a newborn care specialist (NCS), which, according to Kim Morgan, an Elite Certified Newborn Care Specialist, parent educator, sleep coach and the International Nanny Association’s 2020 Nanny of the Year, is an expert who’s trained specifically in newborn care.

“Newborn care specialists are typically hired by families for the first 12 weeks of their child/children’s life,” she explains. “They’re there to provide consultation, in addition to daytime, overnight or 24-hour support.” In a nutshell: NCS are highly trained in newborn care and are there mostly to help moms and dads into the transition of parenthood, particularly at night.

Questions to ask a night nanny or night nurse

Here are expert-approved questions you can ask potential night nannies and NCS:

Training and education

  • What kind of experience, relevant certificates or continuing education do you have? If you’re hiring an NCS, Andrea Hedley, executive director and founder of the Newborn Care Specialist Association (NCSA), urges parents to only hire someone who’s been trained by a reputable newborn care specialist training academy and ideally who has “ongoing training certificates in sleep conditioning, lactation and feeding issues, care of multiples, premature babies and more.”

  • How many families have you worked with? 

  • Can you provide those families as references?

  • Are you trained in CPR and First Aid?

Health questions

  • Have you gotten the COVID vaccine? If not, are you planning on getting one?

  • Do you take the flu shot?

  • Are you up to date on other immunizations, including whooping cough? 

Caregiving style

  • How will you support my feeding decisions? If you’re looking for breastfeeding support, you may want to go with an NCS who also is a certified lactation consultant.

  • What is your child care philosophy?

  • If my baby is crying or inconsolable, how will you soothe them?

  • What do you believe makes you a great nanny or NCS?

  • What is your favorite thing about being a nanny or NCS?

  • What is your preferred method for getting a baby on a sleep schedule? 

  • What is your experience with sleep training? While most families hire a NCS in the very beginning, some choose to enlist their support when working on baby’s sleep habits. “Having a newborn care specialist early on can certainly be worthwhile, especially overnight,” says Dr. Amna Husain, a pediatrician at Pure Direct Pediatrics in Marlboro Township, New Jersey. “However, many families choose to enlist their help when considering sleep training, depending on which method they choose.”

General questions

  • Will you support the family if we change our mind about routine?

  • Are you willing to do light housework? (Generally, NCS do not do housework, save for tending to baby-related tasks if/while mom is nursing.)  

  • Do you have a day job? “It's wise to hire someone for overnight work who does not also have a day job,” says Pam “Mimi” Small, a newborn and infant care consultant with Calm Baby RN. “Many NCS who work overnights will rest through their shift, but you don't want someone whose focus is to get a good night's sleep while working.” 

  • Are you looking for long-term work?

  • What is your rate?

  • How do you like to be paid (Venmo, cash, check, etc.)?

  • How often do you like to be paid (weekly, monthly, etc.)? 

A few other things to consider: 

  • Getting a background check, which reveals whether or not a person has criminal history.

  • Using a nanny contract, or similar, to get all your rules, expectations and terms of employment in writing. 

How to figure out if a night nanny or NCS is right for you

Across the board, experts agree: When it comes to hiring a night nanny or newborn care specialist, trust your gut. 

“Interview in person and if there are any red flags, move onto someone else,” says Small. “New parents should trust their gut in all situations. It’s your family, after all, and if a professional says or recommends something that doesn't sit right with you, follow your intuition.”

Tips and stories from parents and caregivers who’ve been there.

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