Taking Care of A Newborn: The Experts You Need

11 min read

Executive Summary

There are a lot of different experts who can help you take care of your newborn, from post partum doulas to sleep experts. Click each bullet point to skip to that section and learn more.

Investment Cost: $450/night*
Time Reclaimed: 10 hours/night
Worth it? Yes, if you make more than $45/hr. (Though truly your sleep is invaluable.) 
*based on $45/hour rate for a newborn care specialist, working a10-hour shift

Taking care of a newborn is hard! Mothers are recovering from giving birth, and both parents are learning all the nuances of caring for a baby and how to integrate a newborn into the family. It’s a transition period with so many of its own unique challenges that many doctors refer to that initial 12-week period as the “fourth trimester,” and say it’s a critical time to have a support network in place. 

For some parents, that might mean having their own parents or families on hand for extra support. 

“Parents or families who can come in and stay with you for a while can make so much of a difference in just lifting that load,” says Dr. Andrea Braden, an OB-GYN.  “If you have a healthy relationship with your family, it can be super helpful.”

But for many new parents having family support isn’t an option. My mother passed away before my children were born, so I didn’t have the benefit of her stepping in to guide me on all the intricacies of taking care of a newborn. But even if she had been here to help, she would be the first to tell you she was not an expert. A lot has changed in the parenting world in the last 25-30 years! 

Thankfully, there are experts who can help take care of your newborn and help you and your partner adjust to being parents, whether that’s through the support of a doula, a newborn care specialist, or a night nanny.

“These are people who recreate that village. They become part of that family that is missing and come into the house and know what to do,” Braden says. 

My Newborn Care Team

I relied on a newborn care specialist, a night nanny, and a sleep trainer when my parenting journey began. That might sound like overkill, but what my family gained from having them in our home is immeasurable. I feel so fortunate to have had the team I had to help take care of my babies. 

It can be hard to decide which expert is right for you when you start your parenting journey. The experts out there can help with a range of tasks, from sleep training to household work and emotional support. 

“Everyone’s postpartum needs are different. You may need a large village, or you may only need a few people to lean on. Either way, it’s OK to ask for help,” writes OB-GYN Dr. Angelica Glover

To help you figure out which type of help is right for you, here are our 4 expert services we recommend for early parenthood that can help with all the various challenges of taking care of a newborn…

Taking Care of a Newborn: Extend Your Doula Services

Doulas are probably most known for providing support to women during pregnancy and delivery. But many birth doulas will also stay on for up to 2 months after delivery to provide assistance during the transition period. There are also postpartum doulas who specialize exclusively in helping post-birth. 

Postpartum doulas can perform a range of tasks, from information and guidance on things like lactation or bottle feeding to soothing techniques and what to expect in terms of newborn behavior. Doulas can also help with some of the daily tasks, like doing laundry or preparing a meal. 

But what sets postpartum doulas apart from other newborn experts is their focus on providing emotional support for the whole family during the transition time, according to Dara Yates with Seaside Staffing. While other experts’ primary focus will be on the baby, the main focus of a postpartum doula is on helping the mom and other family members  — parents, siblings, grandparents — bond with the baby and integrate them into the family. 

Postpartum doulas will ensure both parents feel comfortable with their new roles. Doulas are there to “provide education, nonjudgmental support, and companionship” to the parents, according to DONA International, a doula-certifying organization

“Doulas provide excellent infant care, but their primary focus is educating and supporting parents,” writes DONA International. “By mothering the mother, the doula enables the new mother to recover from pregnancy and birth and focus her energy on bonding with her new baby.”

Dona International has a database of certified doulas, and you can search specifically for postpartum doulas in your area. 

taking care of a newborn

Taking Care of a Newborn: Hire a Newborn Care Specialist

The term “newborn care specialist” is fairly new. This type of role used to be referred to as a “baby nurse” or “night nurse,” but the International Nanny Association decided that a different term was needed since most people in this position were not registered nurses. So, in 2007, the term “newborn care specialist” became the definitive title for these positions

Anyhoo, a newborn care specialist’s main focus is on providing advice on the needs of the baby. They’re trained specifically in taking care of a newborn up to the age of 16 weeks. 

Here are a few of the areas where a newborn care specialist can help, according to Seaside Staffing:

  • feeding, bathing, and changing the infant
  • washing/cleaning/sterilizing bottles
  • implementing a schedule for sleeping, meals, naps, and playtime
  • providing guidance on breastfeeding, pumping,  and swaddling

If they are also a trained sleep advisor for the baby, they can begin to educate you about circadian rhythms, which I found really helped everyone in our family because it helped us sleep!  We had a routine we could count on because we knew the baby would sleep for a certain amount of time. Our newborn care specialist also taught us how to be smooth and quick when changing a diaper, feeding, and burping. For example, I thought burping was just a cute love tap, but she showed me the right hand motions to actually get the air out. These things would have been a lot harder to learn without her expertise!

A newborn care specialist will usually greet parents at the door when they get home from the hospital, or at minimum, be there by 8 pm on the first night. Newborn care specialists will often work 24/7 for 3-4 months, according to the Newborn Care Specialist Association.

They often sleep in a room next to the baby’s room or in the same room as the baby, and tackle the overnight care so parents can sleep. 

Our newborn care specialist worked an 8-hour shift, from 10 pm to 6 am. She would stay in a guest room with a baby monitor. That way the room the baby was sleeping in could stay free of outside stimulation. 

The Newborn Care Specialist Association has information on finding a specialist near you.

Taking Care of A Newborn: Hire A Night Nanny

A night nanny also works overnight to attend to the baby’s needs. However, they usually have less formal training than a newborn care specialist and often work under the guidance of the parents, rather than offering their own guidance and education, according to the Newborn Care Specialist Association

One benefit of a night nanny is that they will often end up staying with families longer than newborn care specialists since their roles aren’t limited to taking care of a newborn. They’ll continue working for the family in varying capacities if desired. 

If you have a newborn care specialist, a night nanny can fill in on the nights that a newborn care specialist can’t work. She will be a cherry on top. If you don’t have a newborn care specialist, scheduling a night nanny for three days a week for the first two to three months of your child’s life can really help you and your partner. I found I could sleep more soundly knowing someone was available for the baby, that wasn’t me or my partner. 

If you decide to breastfeed, they will still wake you up to feed the baby, but handle the other tasks like burping and lulling them back to sleep. If you decide to do bottle feeding, you can get a solid eight-plus hours of sleep. 

I’ve also found that night nannies are often very flexible with their hours, and can usually come earlier or stay later depending on your needs. We had ours stay later on some mornings so that we could sleep in. 

Taking Care of A Newborn: Hire A Sleep Expert

Sleep training is an interesting industry.  Every book I read on the topic sounded tedious and overwhelming. When I was first researching it, I came across many “experts” who are former moms with experience in sleep training multiple children (usually their own) who feel that they have cracked the code — possibly through trial and error, reading a ton of books, or maybe both. 

I personally think the key is finding someone who understands the nuances of your lifestyle and can accommodate a sleep schedule that matches your day-to-day life in conjunction with the appropriate wake windows that prioritize sleep for the baby.

newborn sleep training advice

Official “sleep training” — when babies learn how to fall asleep by themselves — doesn’t start until around 4 months. But I found it helpful to have someone who could teach me about healthy sleep habits for the baby when I first got home from the hospital.

“Sleep is absolutely job one — without sleep nothing else works,” says Davis Ehrler, of The 3 Day Sleep Solution, who was our newborn care specialist/sleep expert. “You can have a baby who eats well, but they do nothing else well. But a baby who sleeps well does everything well.”

Ehrler says there’s a lot to go over when it comes to the sleep of a newborn. She teaches parents about the appropriate wake windows for different ages, the importance of limiting stimulation in the first six weeks, and how to create the right sleep environment. 

“Sleep is the cornerstone to good health,” she says.

The Right Mix of Experts To Care For Your Newborn

While these are all technically different positions, nowadays it’s super common to find experts who are trained in multiple areas of taking care of a newborn. Our nanny agency, Seaside Staffing Company, was the one who suggested Davis Ehrler from The 3 Day Sleep Solution.  As I mentioned above, she’s a newborn care specialist, postpartum doula, and a sleep expert. (Plus, I’ve continued to work with her as a parenting coach.)

I found the $40/hour was well worth the money for all the education, sleep, and emotional reassurance I received during those first three months. Having the support and guidance decreased my anxiety level to near zero (which coming from me, is a shock!) because she helped me understand what to expect literally week-by-week. 

Beyond teaching us how to take care of our newborn, she also did laundry in the middle of the night, emptied our dishwasher, and cleaned my pump parts before and after date nights out. If I had had a third baby, I would have added meal prep and making crockpot meals to the chores a newborn care specialist or night nanny could have handled while we were sleeping. 

Want recommendations for other parenting experts and in-home services for your family? Check out our extensive network of vetted professionals and concierge services. For more help with your parenthood journey, download our free parenting guide: 99 Ways to Do it All (Without Doing it All). And don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter to receive our latest articles in your inbox.

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