I never thought I’d hire a night nurse. Like ever. As a first time mom, I had a hard enough time handing my 3-month-old off to a nanny. Leaving someone in charge of my new baby was not something I considered for a number of reasons. Night nurses are expensive and paying for childcare was just not something I was used to – I thought it was a little ridiculous. New parents are supposed to be tired. Sleep deprivation is part of the experience, right? If that’s where your mind is going, I get it. That was me. But when I found myself expecting my third baby, things started to shift. I heard from friends who hired night nurses and had the best experience. So I started looking into whether or not this might be right for our family. 


Hiring a Night Nurse: Cost, How it Works, and Was it Worth it?


There’s so much judgment that comes with parenthood. Whether you work outside the home, care for your kids full-time, or have any type of childcare. There’s judgment of basically every possible decision we make for our families. I’ll be honest and tell you that in the past, I was a little judgmental about some of those things. 

Then I became a mom. 

Asking for help is something many (most?) women struggle with. There’s so much judgement around hiring help, and the postpartum period is really hard. And I have to acknowledge that having the means to do so comes with immense privilege. I remember one of my best friends telling me she felt like she couldn’t ask for help as a full-time mom. I was like wait…what? It’s unpaid work. But we call breastfeeding free because we don’t value the time of women and mothers. 

Being a mom is the most incredible thing I’ll ever do. It is also hands-down a million times harder and more involved than any paying job I’ve ever had. I understand that not everyone can pay for help. No part of me wants to imply that everyone can and should get a baby nurse. I have 3 children and did not have a night nurse with my first two. But – if you are able to save up or shift things to make it work, we did have a wonderful experience, and it seems that many of you want to know more. 


What is a night nurse? 

Night nurses or night nannies take care of your newborn baby so you can get a good night’s rest. A newborn night nurse will feed, change, and care for babies overnight while their parents sleep. As you know, a good night’s sleep can really make or break your day. Babies are not on a sleep schedule, so you might find yourself awake a handful of nights during those early days. 


The decision to hire a night nurse

The thought of being sleep deprived and caring for our newborn, 3-year-old, and 5-year-old sounded less than ideal. Our nanny has been coming Monday – Wednesday until 3PM since fall. The part-time help is wonderful, but how would we get through Thursday – Sunday with 3 kids and very little sleep?

You know that expression “it takes a village?” For the longest time, extended family (grandparents, aunts and uncles etc) were that village. My grandmother watched me every single day while my mom worked. But these days, for many (most) of us, that village needs to be hired. 


Getting my husband on board

When I first suggested hiring a night nurse to Conor, he said something along the lines of “are you out of your mind?” 😂 But my friends told me it was the best thing I’ll ever do and they were right. This might not go over well here but I’ll tell you how it all happened. Know that I said it respectfully –  I told Conor I felt pretty strongly about it, and that I’d pay for it myself. We do always discuss big expenses, and he did ultimately (reluctantly) agree to it. I wanted a good night’s rest at least a few days a week, so if he was willing to take the baby, we wouldn’t need a night nurse. So he was like “fine whatever” and I hired Erica. 

I would like to add that ONE night in, Conor woke up, saw our night nurse’s notes about how Jack did that night, and immediately messaged his mom saying “Ok, I’m convinced. Night nurse is the best money we ever spent.” 

He then asked me if we could add a fourth night. And we did. 


How we found our night nurse

I looked into a few agencies and they were not in our budget. I want to say they that the baby night nurses that came from an agency were closer to $35-$40 an hour. So I asked a few friends about their night nurses. My friend Jess Keys has raved about her night nurse Fern so much that I remembered her name 😂  But Fern was busy. I will say, it’s a good idea to book your night nurse months out, and I would really try to find someone through word of mouth if you can. My friends recommended their night nurse and she was available. I was so nervous about how it would all work but they walked me through what she did for them. 


What our night nurse did

The agency I spoke with and Erica, our night nurse, seemed to do the same things. A night nurse will handle the overnight shift, or nighttime hours and care for your baby. She would also perform household chores. Her list of duties included caring for baby, washing bottles and pump parts (if breastfeeding), prepping formula, diaper changes, and doing (and folding!) laundry. I suppose it would depend on your family’s needs, so if there is something you need help with, I would ask a potential candidate before hiring them. She was very helpful and even folded our laundry and emptied the dishwasher. She was also willing to help with our older children if they woke up, which is something the agency offered as well. 


How much does a night nurse cost?

As I mentioned earlier, agencies seemed to have hourly rates of $35-40, but we paid $27 / hourly. She offered a 9 or 10PM start (we went with 10PM) and left right at 6AM. So 3 nights a week, which is what we started at, was $648, and 4 nights a week was $864. 

It still felt like a lot of money at the end of the week because it is. I won’t pretend that didn’t stress me out, because it did. But my husband who wasn’t initially even pro night nurse wanted the 4th night and did not want to drop it. So we eventually landed on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, and it was life-giving. It also helps that I’m 40 and not in my early 30s – this would not have been an option then.

I was able to justify this because our nanny comes 3 days and not 5, so being able to shift things a bit and have that extra help made the days better. I am also not a morning person and for the first time in my life, would wake up at 6AM feeling ALIVE. All that said, 2 nights would be helpful, too. Getting some rest after not getting rest feels really good, and can reset things for you. Thinking back to when we had Margot, it would have felt like a gift sleeping 1-2 nights a week. Sleeping was not her thing though. 


The best way to find a night nurse

I would recommend finding someone through your circle. Ask for recommendations. Ask your friends to ask their friends. It felt so good knowing that our friends actually had Erica in their home. I was a lot less anxious and didn’t struggle handing Jack off. 


Your night nurse questions, answered


Does the night nurse follow a routine? 

Newborns aren’t really on a routine. She made sure he was fed and cared for. Right before 3 months, we started implementing a 10PM dream feed, so she would do that right when she arrived. After that, it was just caring for Jack when he woke up. 

How many nights do you think is important to have a night nurse? Every night? 3 nights? 

Look, one night of help is helpful when you’re really tired. I would have taken any sort of break with my first two. We initially had Erica Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. We changed to Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and it was pretty great. I really liked the four nights in the beginning, but we did not need that once Jack hit 3 months. The plan was always for her to stop this week, so that’s what we did. 

How long did you have her? 

Jack was born at 38 weeks, so she started when he was maybe a week old? It’s all a blur. She finished when he was 3.5 months, but we would have been fine ok at 2.5-3 months. Jack is also a pretty decent sleeper, and currently wakes up once a night, around 3AM. Once you’re only waking up once in the middle of the night, it’s really not too bad. 

Any tips for making the most of the experience? 

Go. To. Sleep. I was not always the best at this but my nights are my time. It was still so nice not to have to worry about Jack. If your night nurse stays long enough, she can help with sleep training. Our night nurse will not do that until around 4 months when baby is ready. 

How does the payment structure work? 

We paid her via Zelle at the end of each week. 

Did it affect bonding positively or negatively? 

I was rested and felt more connected to him. I do not do well with a lack of sleep, and as a new mom, there was peace of mind knowing I could rest and not worry about my baby. The rest made it possible to enjoy quality time with my kids without feeling run down. So I’d have to say it positively impacted bonding. What’s that thing Elle Woods said about happy people? 😂 

How was it having someone in your home? 

It was fine! I will be honest and tell you even though a friend recommended her I was a little nervous and set the alarm the first few nights because I felt safer knowing no one could come of go. She would just come get me in the morning and I’d unset it. 

Is it worth it if you are breastfeeding and have to wake up anyway?

I cannot speak to that. My friend who did that said it was worth it. You could have the night nurse give the baby pumped milk, but I’m not sure how that would work. My supply was so awful with my first two that I didn’t bother this time around. 

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Do they hold the baby the majority of the night?

No. Just when he was fussy or wouldn’t sleep. But the goal was to create healthy sleep habits, so holding the baby all night would not be ideal. 

Does she sleep during her shift? If so, where? 

No, she did not, but I cannot speak for other night nurses. I would ask about that. 

Does she stay in the baby’s room all night? 

Jack’s room did not have window treatments until maybe a month ago. The first two months, she and Jack were in the sitting room (small family room) next to the kitchen. This seemed easiest and most-comfortable for Erica. She could easily prep bottles, do his laundry, sit on the sofa, and watch him all in one room. As he got older, the morning sun became an issue so we moved Jack into his room. We used the Nanit monitor and iPad, and she would watch him all night with the sound on. 

Best and worst aspects? 

The best parts would be sleep, knowing baby is being watched, an empty dishwasher, and folded laundry. The “worst” and only not amazing part would be the cost. I wasn’t going to share this story, but I suppose I should. Erica had a very legitimate family emergency and recommended a colleague fill in when she wasn’t able to come for a few. days. The colleague fell asleep on the job, and I woke up to Jack screaming. According to the Nanit, he was checked on maybe 20 minutes before that time so he wasn’t crying for an hour, but I was so upset. My trust felt completely violated and I felt like a terrible parent since he was left crying. I stayed calm, prepped his bottle, and told her she could leave. And yes, I still paid her for the evening but it did not feel good. 

How did you build trust with the nurse? 

I felt safe since she spent 3 months caring for my friend’s son. She also sent photos of all her identification info, vaccine card, experience with infant care and medical training, address, etc. 

How many weeks would you recommend having a night nurse? 

We could have stopped around 2.5 months with Jack and would have been ok. She was with us until he was about 3.5 months old, and I’d say this was actually perfect. Margot was still waking up multiple times at this age though, so it really depends on the baby. Jack wakes up once around 3AM, so it’s very manageable. 


Photography by Katie Kett