What Is A Newborn Care Specialist? How The Role Differs From That Of A Nanny

When parents bring home a new baby, the responsibilities and life-altering changes can feel overwhelming. Even though it is a highly anticipated, joyful moment that all parents look forward to, it can feel like a tidal wave of all things new and scary landing all at once. No matter how much an individual is happily anticipating parenthood, it is a landscape of unknown and sometimes terrifying terrain.

That’s where a newborn care specialist (NCS) comes in, colloquially referred to as a “baby nurse,” although this language is incorrect.

These childcare professionals are different from “regular” nannies. The latter often stays with one family for years, becoming deeply entrenched in the day-to-day functioning of a household.  A nanny often becomes another member of the family, and may take care of a child well into their early teen years.

Newborn care specialists serve a very specific, very focused function, and when they have completed this task, they usually move on. In this article, we outline the similarities, and the differences between, a nanny and a newborn care specialist. If you’re expecting a new baby soon, a newborn care specialist just might be the ideal care provider you need, whether it’s instead of, or in addition to, the nanny already on payroll.

1. A newborn care specialist has a specific skill set.

These childcare professionals are often certified in areas like neonatal care, and have experience looking after, for example, babies born prematurely or with certain physical issues. Some are registered nurses, trained to recognize symptoms of infant conditions, such as jaundice. Many nannies have training in these areas as well, but if your baby is high risk, a newborn care specialist may fill your needs more exactly.

2. Nannies stay while newborn care specialists move on.

As their job title implies, these childcare specialists are not meant for long term positions. Often their contract is for between two weeks and four months, depending on the baby’s condition and mom’s too. If the health of either one is still delicate after several months, newborn care specialists may agree to stay until a situation stabilizes.

3. Night time is the specialist’s time.

Because many couples are waiting longer to have children today, their careers are often established and demanding by the time parenthood becomes a reality.  Parents often have busy jobs to return to within a certain time frame, so it is vital that they get lots of rest. A newborn care specialist takes care of night time feedings, so that parents are able to sleep through the night. How long they stay in the house the following morning is negotiated in the contracted agreement.

4. Sleep training is part of their duties.

This is a difficult issue for many parents – should they leave the child alone to fall asleep or go into the nursery at the first cry? A newborn care specialist helps parents decide how to approach this, based on the baby’s cycles, feeding schedule and other factors. These professionals have, over their careers, dealt with dozens, sometimes hundreds of newborn babies, and their expertise and experience is a welcome shoulder for new parents to lean on during this tricky phase. 

5. A newborn care specialist is an expert at handling all baby-related duties.

In spite of the pure joy parenthood brings, no one knows, automatically, how to change a diaper or even how to encourage an infant to latch on and breastfeed. Newborn care specialists may bring this training to parents, and teach them how to recognize signals that their baby is sending them. For example, babies cry in one way when they are hungry, another when they need a diaper change. Learning what each sound means is a relief to parents who fret over making mistakes and missing something.

6. NCSs step in when family is far away.

In one sense the world has never been more connected, and yet we’ve never been further apart in another sense. If an individual has moved to an unfamiliar city for their career and has no family close by as support when the baby comes, a newborn care specialist can fill that gap in both a practical and an emotional sense. New parents need reassurance that they are handling their baby correctly, that their child is being fed properly and getting enough nutrition, and many other details it is impossible to know until you’re home with a new infant. A newborn care specialist is there to fill the baby’s needs, but also to answer any and all questions parents have once their baby is home with them.

Nannies and newborn care specialists are different spokes of the childcare wheel, equal professionals who have education, training and experience in their separate areas of expertise. But their roles are not interchangeable. Think of your nanny as the person who is in their role for the long term, who is there to love and support your child through the many phases of childhood.

Think of a newborn care specialist as the person who will help you through those first few challenging weeks or months, when your baby needs all your attention and you need help and relief. That’s when a newborn care specialist steps in, offering crucial guidance and practical assistance, so that parents and infant have a chance to bond, bloom, and begin their life journey together.