Parenthood is one of the greatest adventures of life. But as any parent will tell you, it isn’t always easy. Many parents choose to enlist extra help at some point in their child’s life, whether it comes from a friend, a relative, or a nurse.
In the earliest stages of parenthood, one of the hardest challenges is looking after your child at night. Most parents lose huge amounts of sleep caring for their child, dealing with crying, and ensuring the baby can sleep soundly.
A night nurse is a potential solution to the problem, but there are a few things any parent should bear in mind when considering hiring a night nurse. We’re going to look at what a night nurse is, and the pros and cons of getting one.
What Does a Night Nurse Do?
As the name suggests, a night nurse is a professional nurse or carer hired to look after your child during the night hours. The caring does extend beyond the night period, encompassing a number of other tasks and duties, but their responsibilities really depend on your needs.
Their primary duty is to be on hand during the night in case your child wakes up and starts crying. They’re trained to soothe the baby and help send it back to sleep. This usually means feeding a baby during the night, and possibly burping it as well, to ensure that it’s comfortable enough to fall back to sleep.
As a continuation of this, they’re also trained to start sleep training your baby, helping it to develop healthy sleeping habits in the first stages of life. Additional duties can include just about anything involved with caring for a child.
They may change nappies, help with any minor ailments such as nappy rash, bathe the child, and ensure that all laundry is properly organised. They can also help you with putting together a working schedule to attend to your child’s needs, covering duties such as bathing, changing nappies, feeding, and other assorted tasks.
The Benefits of Hiring a Night Nurse
Every stage of parenthood comes with its own challenges, but few stages are as physical as the early months. Prolonged lack of sleep, along with the added stress of dealing with a child for the first time, are enough to wear any parent down.
At the same time, the initial rush of excitement provides one of the most special periods of parenthood. A night nurse can help mitigate the negative effects, while allowing you to enjoy the excitement of having a new child.
By caring for the baby during the night, and ensuring that you get a proper night’s sleep, a night nurse can leave you free to care for your child with reduced stress, and greater freedom to enjoy the experience.
In addition to enjoying greater energy levels, you’ll potentially be able to enjoy a better relationship with your child. A constant lack of sleep generally makes people irritable, and new parents often have a hard time connecting properly with their child when they are running on a couple of hours of sleep every night. A night nurse takes off this strain, letting you comfortably connect with your baby.
Disadvantages of Hiring a Night Nurse
While hiring a night nurse offers many benefits, there are a few other factors to take into account that mean that night nurses are not necessarily for everyone. The first and most obvious point is that you’ll have a stranger regularly staying overnight in your home.
This has a few practical and logistical effects, but more importantly, many people would rather not invite a stranger into their home.
Especially during a major transition period like early stage childcare, many parents would prefer to have a secure home surrounded by people they know well. Another obvious consideration is the cost.
Night nurses are generally not cheap, and often beyond the means of many parents. And contrary to what you might think, the costs actually go up with each extra child the nurse is expected to care for. You’ll also be required to put together an agreement whereby the nurse is guaranteed a certain amount of work every week.
If your child turns out to be less difficult than expected, you’ll still be required to have the nurse around in order to fulfill the contract. Finally, it’s always possible that a parent will regret handing responsibility for a crucial stage of their child’s life to a stranger. These are all things you should consider before committing to a night nurse
How Expensive Is a Night Nurse?
Unfortunately, night nurses are beyond the financial reach of most parents. If you’re looking to hire one, you’ll want to either go through an agency, or higher from private adverts.
The more experienced and professional night nurses will obviously be more expensive. You’ll also pay more if they are looking after more than one child. And if you hire through an agency, you’ll be obliged to pay the night nurse for a fixed number of nights, even if they aren’t needed.
How Do I Find a Good Night Nurse?
As we’ve already mentioned, you’ll want to either hire through an agency, or from private adverts. A company such as SignalHire is generally a better bet. SignalHire is an online tool for finding reliable contacts who can carry out a professional job. It’s an easy way to get in direct contact with an experienced nanny.
Agencies are another option. Agencies have high standards, and need to ensure the qualifications of their workers. A good agency will only hire professionals with strong work experience and the correct skills. That said, agencies are also likely to cost more as part of the fee goes to the agency itself. Individuals, on the other hand, are free to set whatever rates they feel like, and are more open to negotiations.
However, the obvious problem with hiring an individual is that there’s no concrete guarantee of their abilities. Unless they’ve set themselves up as a private business, with feedback and customer reviews, you’re going to have a hard time knowing exactly how good they are.
This isn’t to say that individuals are guaranteed to be a nightmare. In fact, given the nature of the work, many of the best night nurses advertised on sites such as Gumtree rather than working for an agency.
What works best is getting in touch with other parents that have been in your situation. Becoming a member of a parenting group is a great way of doing this. Parenting groups provide you with networks for everything you need when raising your child. Trusted recommendations can lead you straight to a reliable night nurse.
That’s pretty much all there is to know about hiring a night nurse. If you’re lucky enough to be able to afford one, they can make a huge difference to child raising. You’ll benefit from increased energy levels thanks to the improved sleep you enjoy.
However, the presence of a stranger in the house during critical stages of a child’s life isn’t for everyone. Weigh up the pros and cons, and bear in mind that you should only ever hire a night nurse from a trusted source, who has the correct skills and experience.