For many new parents, the first few months with a new baby can be highly traumatic, especially if your baby does not settle well. You do not get the sleep you need to be able to cope with all the demands of the dramatic changes in your lifestyle. This can be particularly true for couples who live away from the support, advice and guidance of their own parents and other relatives. Struggling to cope alone can be a daunting prospect. However, help is at hand across the UK, with a growing number of night nannies.

This article on hiring a night nanny is written by Kathryn Senior, a freelance journalist who writes health, medical, biological, and pharmaceutical articles for national and international journals, newsletters and web sites.

What is a night nanny? 

A night nanny is an experienced, qualified helping hand that will visit your home overnight to help out with getting your baby to sleep and taking care of him or her through the night, allowing you to get the rest that you need.

For parents who have not had a good night’s sleep since the arrival of their baby, or who have the additional responsibilities of older children or an early return to work, a night nanny can be an invaluable resource. Similarly, for mothers who have had their baby by Caesarean section, or who had a difficult birth, a night nanny can ease the load, allowing the time to recover properly.

How can they help?

A night nanny can help with a wide range of tasks related to the care of your baby overnight. These include:

  • Soothing your baby to sleep
  • Establishing an effective sleep routine
  • Night feeds
  • Nappy changes
  • Sterilising and preparing bottles
  • Washing and dressing the baby in the morning

If you are breast feeding, your night nanny will bring the baby to you and settle them again afterwards, minimising the disruption to your own sleep. They can also offer advice if you are struggling with breast feeding.

Based on their extensive experience, a night nanny can also offer helpful advice on coping with post natal depression, as well a wide range of other child related issues.

When do they work?

A night nanny will usually arrive around 9pm and stay until around 7am. However, you can negotiate your own hours to suit your schedule, along with occasional extensions when you want to treat yourself to a lie in.

You can arrange night nanny services for as many or as few nights as you need, from one night a week to all seven. Many people find alternate nights give them the balance between hands on care and getting the sleep they need.

Where can I find one?

Most people find their night nanny through an agency, however, you may find that friends can recommend someone and save you the extra fee.

The advantage of using an agency is that they will do all the background checks and verification of qualifications and references for you, providing you with an experienced night nanny that you know you can trust.

If you are sourcing your own night nanny, you should make sure that they have an appropriate qualification, such as NNEB, NVQ Level 3 or BTec, or be a registered Paediatric nurse. They should also hold a current certificate in paediatric first aid and preferably have experience in the field with references you can check on. A Criminal Records Bureau check is also essential.

Whether you are using an agency or sourcing your night nanny yourself, perhaps the most important factor is how you feel about the candidate. If you do not have faith and trust in your night nanny, you probably won’t sleep much anyway.

What will they cost?

Fees will vary from region to region, with popular services in central London carrying a premium. However, you should expect to pay between £80 and £100 per night for the service, plus an additional fee if you have sourced your night nanny through an agency.

So should you hire one?

As discussed above, there are many advantages to hiring a night nanny, and if you can afford it, it makes sense to take advantage of the service. Asking for help does not make you a neglectful parent. If anything, a good night’s sleep will enable you to give your baby much more attention and a better quality of care through the day than you ever would after being up all night.

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