How to explain a night nanny to your mum

Published: 12/09/2017

I had been lying on our bathroom floor, hugging the toilet instead of my 5-week old baby, when my husband finally put a stop to my guilt-driven resistance to any help whatsoever. If my mum could do it, and if mothers for centuries could look after their babies without any paid help, why shouldn’t I?

But the truth was – I simply couldn’t. Three bouts of mastitis and three rounds of antibiotics, coupled with (oh-so-cliche – but so true!) sleepless nights led to a major case of gastroenteritis, and hence the move to the bathroom. Despite my life-long suspicion of medical profession (yes, you guessed it – I don’t think my self-sufficient self needs any help), I begged my husband to call an ambulance as I was sure death was near. (I’m not exaggerating.) But my husband was too busy looking after our 2-year old, jealousy-possessed, but otherwise very cool toddler.

Fast forward, I survived. But not without help. My baby needed me, and I needed help to look after him. Here, I’ll say it again, *I* needed help. If I wanted to be a good mum to my baby (and my toddler), I needed to accept help. And with no family nearby, I needed paid help.

My first baby taught me that sleep was incredibly important – for him *and* me. It was sleep that gave me the energy to play with him during the days. It was sleep that kept my immune system strong to protect us both. It was sleep that kept my milk production up (yes, I'm a breastfeeding addict, too). It was sleep that helped me stay (sort of) sane during those early days. And so I knew that the help I needed was for the nights.

Until then, I wasn’t familiar with the concept of a night nanny at all. Now, I strongly believe that every mum (and her baby!) deserves a night nanny. Strike “deserve” – mums should be entitled to a night nurse, like they are to a health visitor.

If like me, you aren’t familiar with night nannies, I’ve pulled together the key facts about these angels of nights.

What exactly is a night nanny?

A night nanny or a night nurse is a childcare professional who is specialised in helping parents with babies during the nights. Nothing prepares parents for the incredible fatigue and drop in energy following lack of sleep. However hiring a night nanny may be the answer – not just as a short-term fix, but also a longer-term investment in family well-being.

What exactly does a night nanny do?

A night nanny usually arrives around 9pm (although some are happy to start earlier or later), and stay until around 7am (however, some will leave earlier or stay longer depending on family needs). During that time, they take sole charge of looking after the baby – feeding, changing, settling, and teaching baby good sleep habits. Depending on whether the baby is breast- or formula-fed, she brings the baby to her mother every time the baby is due for a feed, or feeds the baby expressed / formula milk through a bottle.

How long do parents hire a night nanny for?

A night nanny helps with babies from newborn until about six months, although many parents use them well beyond the half-year mark. They may be hired for a few weeks, or several months. Some parents hire them for a couple of nights a week to catch up on rest, while others use them during weeknights, especially if they are working and/or one of the parents is travelling.

Is a night nanny a babysitter?

No. A night nanny is more qualified and more experienced, looking after babies throughout the entire night, and helping parents get babies into better routines, and ultimately longer sleep.

How is a night nanny different from a maternity nurse?

A night nanny helps the family during the nights only and is typically a ‘live-out’, whereas a maternity nurse looks after baby during the days as well and is typically a ‘live-in’.

Who can benefit from hiring a night nanny?

Literally everyone can benefit from hiring a night nanny, because there are many benefits:

  • Parents get some much needed and well deserved rest;
  • Parents regain their strength and energy to really enjoy their baby during the day;
  • Baby gets a longer and better sleep too, which is incredibly important for baby’s development (only food is more important for them to grow healthily);
  • Baby gets into a better routine, wakes up fewer times a night, and is in better mood during the days (not to mention that parents need to wake up fewer times too!);
  • And much more…

Especially families with no relatives nearby, first-time parents, parents of colicky babies, babies with reflux or special needs babies, parents with active toddlers, parents of twins or triplets, parents with demanding job and families where one parent is travelling extensively find the investment into a night nanny hugely beneficial.

How much does a night nanny cost?

In the UK, night nurse costs vary from about £140 to £170 a night for single babies (excluding any placement fees), depending on night nanny’s level of experience as well as how many hours she works. Typical hourly rates are between £14 and £18 an hour gross.    

Is a night nanny worth it?

Well, you know my answer! A night nanny is worth much more than a new bag of baby clothes or the Nth baby activity that you’re doing to keep yourself awake. I would go as far as to say that night help in early days is more beneficial to you and your baby than private birth facilities!

Regardless of whether you consider hiring a night nanny a luxury or a necessity for your family, keep in mind that more rest at night will help you be a better parent, and give your best to your baby during the day. At the same time, better sleeping habits will help your baby develop their full potential. And it is very hard to put a price on that.

At myTamarin we help you find a night nanny that matches your parenting style, personality, preferences, values and beliefs.

Does it make sense to hire a night nanny while breastfeeding? Absolutely! Read our blog Night nanny + breastfeeding: an unexpectedly effective combo to find out why.

Tamarins are monkeys who parent in family groups – like a village – helping each other while children are small.

Are you ready to join our village?

Parents sign up here to begin your nanny or maternity nurse search.

Nannies sign up here to find your next family. Alternatively, you can send your CV to and we will be in touch!

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