Midnight Mary Poppins
March 30, 2012 8:03 PM   Subscribe

A night nanny for newborns and multiples is a nanny for overnight so the parents can recoup lost sleep. If you were to hire such a person, then what qualities, qualifications, and skills would you look for?
posted by FunkyHelix to Work & Money (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Why are the qualities here different than they are for any other nanny?

I would want someone who was going to treat my baby the same way I would treat them. This means that if I want to keep the kid on a schedule, the nanny will do that. If I want the baby to be picked up and cuddled as soon as they make a peep, I want the nanny to do that.

Qualifications: familiarity with young babies; awareness of SIDS risks; willing to do what I tell them to do.

If I needed a night nanny for some reason, I would seriously consider looking at an au pair.
posted by dpx.mfx at 8:14 PM on March 30, 2012

Experience with multiples, confidence with infants, deference to parental style, infant CPR certification, and a daytime schedule that meant I knew the person was well-rested for the night ahead. A lot of post-partum doulas would qualify, for example. If you are wound tighter or your multips have ongoing preemie health issues, a more rigorous training qualification may be something you want. It really depends on a ton of factors.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:16 PM on March 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

You are looking for someone certified as a Postpartum Doula. There are several certification entities, but DONA is the most common.
posted by LyndsayMW at 8:24 PM on March 30, 2012

CPR and First Aid certified, with experience with newborns. Newborns are not the same as infants, and multiples are not the same regular newborns: scheduling is key with multiples, and preemies are slightly more high maintenance.

As dpx.mfx says, make sure you have defined goals. If you want to simply make it through the night without waking up, let her know. If you want *them* on the path to sleeping through the night, let her know.

I personally don't think most of these services are worth their expenses, so make absolutely sure you're getting a professional and not just someone who's going to plug a pacifier in the babies' mouths so you can sleep. Ask her how her training is going to improve your lives in the long run. This is generally not something I'd ask of a caregiver (with a normal nanny, I'd be a lot more concerned that she bonded with my kid well) but with something like a night nanny, where a lot of overcharging and lack of regulation takes place, I'd want to make damn sure that this expense is worth my money.

Also, be extremely diligent about following up on references. Be sure to ask those people how this night nanny improved their lives. They might be honest and say that it wasn't worth the money, or they might explain the ways in which it was the best decision of their lives.
posted by zoomorphic at 8:26 PM on March 30, 2012

I had a post-partum doula, and she brought a few of these things to the table:

- lactation-consultant experience (I got up and nursed every three hours and she tended to the baby in between). it was nice to get advice too.

- knowing how to clean & sterilize baby feeding gear (including pump), using whatever methods I had on hand (e.g. microwave sterilization bags).

- experience with methods for soothing various types of babies, including those that don't sleep easily.

- taking good notes on the baby's activities so that parents can later figure out what happened sleep-wise and diaper-wise while they were resting.

- able to entertain herself in dim lighting quietly (reading, knitting). I didn't want TV flicker in the room with the baby.

+ 1 to going along with whatever response schedule the parents dictate.
+ 1 to having boundless positive and calm night time energy. I shouldn't fear for a second that she would nod off on duty if I wanted her alert.
posted by xo at 8:26 PM on March 30, 2012 [3 favorites]

I used to do this. For triplets. I had been a first aid instructor. I was a parent.
I co-shared the gig with a friend who had a day job. She slept while the babies did, but I didn't. I used to make up formula, sterilise bottles and watch tv.

The family didn't mind if I napped while the babies were asleep... but it was too hard for me to be happy when I was woken from a sleep. I'm a bit groggy. So I stayed awake.

I guided the mum a bit in what I thought was a good idea re scheduling them.... triplets need scheduling so that each baby is ensured enough time for cuddles and feeding/changing. They were quite small when they came home, so they took almost half and hour to feed. Every three hours.

We got it down to a fine art, and eventually sent the parents away to Fiji for a week, got the babies to drop their last feed and did ourselves out of a nice job. But yay for the family!

I think the important thing was that I was philosophically on the same page as the parents, more diligent and fastidious than they were... because everyone expects their staff to have higher standards than their own.... I certainly do.... and honest about mistakes or misunderstandings.

I was cheerful but not too chatty when they woke in the mornings and scooted off to my own bed at sparrow fart. I didn't do housework as they had cleaners and the house was immaculate.... but if there was any washing or folding floating around, I used to do that for them. Not because I was asked to, but because I was bored and I wanted to be useful.

I"m happy to answer any questions you might have. But hopefully it's a short term gig and you can find someone through word of mouth.

Make sure they're cuddly folk though. Tiny babies need cuddles. Really. Cuddles.

Oh, and reliable. Always have a back up. As I said, I did it with a friend/former student so if one had something on, the other would take over and our lovely triplet family were never left in the lurch.
posted by taff at 2:25 AM on March 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

All of the above, plus a light step and a quiet, soothing voice so she or he doesn't wake the rest of the household when tending to the baby. (And lest someone think I'm maligning people of girth, I'm a small woman with a thundering step, even barefoot. Some people just have heavy footfalls.)
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 10:21 AM on March 31, 2012

CPR certification is obviously a plus, but I don't understand why parents who probably aren't infant CPR certified would insist on a short-term nanny to be CPR certified.
posted by WhitenoisE at 5:15 PM on March 31, 2012

Because of what taff said: because everyone expects their staff to have higher standards than their own. I do not, for example, care if the woman who cleans my house does a brilliant job; I simply care that she do a better job than I do.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:44 PM on March 31, 2012

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