Newborn Care Specialist Industry standards

Newborn care transforms over time, and it is important as a professional to understand the terminology, rates and responsibilities associated with being a Newborn Care Specialist as well as generally what to expect during a shift, and from a contract.

It is important to understand the difference between professional titles within the newborn care industry.

Everyone's path to becoming a Newborn Care Specialist looks a little different but we are all here to provide the best care for newborns and their families.

Newborn Care Specialist

A Newborn Care Specialist [NCS] is trained in newborn care, and specializes in the first 0-16 weeks of a baby's life. An NCS's primary focus is on the newborn, but they can also provide other support based on additional training/experience.

Night Nurse/Baby Nurse

A Night Nurse is a licensed RN or LPN that works with newborns. The term is commonly misused to refer to a Newborn Care Specialist. An NCS cannot ethically or legally refer to themselves as a nurse, unless they have a nursing degree.

Postpartum Doula

A Postpartum Doula [PPD] is trained to support a family during the postpartum period. A PPD typically focuses on a family as a whole and guides parents through recovery with newborn care and household support.

Night Nanny

A Night Nanny is a nanny that provides overnight care for newborns. They can provide basic newborn care. A night nanny typically has limited training [such as CPR/First Aid] but no other professional newborn or postpartum-focused trainings or certifications.

*We realize that Baby Nurse and Night Nurse are terms that parents have been using for generations and we are working on being part of the change in educating parents and professionals to use proper terminology.*

What are Newborn Care Specialist hourly rates?

and why do they vary so much?

When establishing your rates, there are numerous factors to take into account. Rates can vary from $25/hr in rural regions up to $75/hr or more in bigger metropolis cities, or where the cost of living is higher.

What type of trainings have you completed? Are you certified? Are you focusing on expanding your knowledge with continuing education? Do you attend conferences? Are you well versed in sleep conditioning? Or trained in RIE, montessori, or other specialized methods? These all play a factor when coming up with an hourly rate.

Experience matters. Have you worked with 10 babies or 100? Have you worked overnight, daytime and/or 24/7? Have you traveled with a family? Have you worked with a UHNW family or a Celebrity? Have you started with families from birth and stayed with them through many months?

Rates differ based on location, ranging from state to state and even city to city and. Cost of living has a huge impact on rates. It’s important for you to understand the range of what others are charging in your area and what families are willing to pay.

If the area you live in has a higher demand for in-home newborn care, and/or an oversaturation of caregivers, then the hourly rates are likely to be higher.

Sometimes, parents have requests that fall a bit outside of what is normal for in-home newborn care and the NCS will typically charge a higher rate. Some examples might be: awake care, babies with medical issues or additional household tasks.

How many babies will you be working with? The more babies, the higher the rate will typically be! $2-$5 is the average increase per baby, but some might charge more or less than this. If you have several sets of twins under your belt or have worked with triplets or high-order multiples you might charge more for your expertise. This only includes babies that are born at the same time. Babies with different birth dates [from two surrogates for example] will typically be charged as two separate babies.

A Newborn Care Specialist supports new parents during their most vulnerable period. Parents want to hire someone who is kind, communicative, professional and overall a good “fit”. Sometimes a certain NCS just has the *it* factor that parents are willing to pay more for.

Getting Paid as a Newborn Specialist

Are you working as a W2 employee or a 1099 Independent contractor? Did you find this job on your own, through a referral agency or are you working on a job through an agency as part of their team? The next section will go over the differences in how a NCS can be paid.

*Ultimately, a good rate is one where you feel appreciated/respected and also have enough consistent work. Month long gaps in your calendar are not worth a $5 an hour increase*

Getting paid as an Independent Contractor vs a W-2 Employee

There are pros and cons to every payment method, and every state has different employment and tax laws. Make sure that you understand the laws in your area before accepting a contract/payment for a position.

There are also pros and cons to working for an agency, read more here:

Working individually:

Working with an agency:

Insurance as a Newborn Care Specialist

Carrying liability insurance is not required in our industry, but it’s always a good idea to have it in case anything happens while working with a newborn. As of now, the only liability insurance for Newborn Care Specialists is through CM+F. Many agencies and some families will require you to hold your own liability insurance. They also offer the option to add general liability insurance. 

Contracts with Families

It is important to have a contract with every job. Ideally your contract has been looked over by a lawyer and/or purchased from a reputable source. A contract should be something that sets you up for success and something that you can reference the family back to if conflicts arise.

There are many things that should be included in a contract. If you are interested in purchasing an IC contract our NCSA CONTRACT TEMPLATE has been written by experts, reviewed by a variety of Newborn Care Specialists in the field, as well as evaluated by a lawyer.

We want all Newborn Care Specialists to be protected!

What to include in your NCS Contract:

Contracts with NCS Agencies

Some agencies will have you sign a contract for working with them. Other agencies will have you sign a contact for each job that you work on. It’s common for the contracts to specify general scope, schedule requests from the family, indemnification, NDA/non-compete of agency clients, pay and cancellation policies.

It’s important that if you are an Independent Contractor that the contract doesn’t prevent you from working privately, and that it offers you protection if the family decides to pull out of a job without cause. While it can be cost prohibitive for you to go after a family that refuses payment or cancels a contract on your own, an agency should be willing to fight for you.

Non-complete clauses as an Agency NCS

When working with an agency as an Independent Contractor, a non-compete is a standard practice that you might be asked to sign. The agency can legally ask you not to self-promote your private business to their clientele or a referral from their clientele. 

However, an agency should NOT tell you not to work with other agencies or not to take on your own private clients that found you on their own. This is not a legal practice.

NCS Shift Types

What works best for you?

There are essentially three types of schedules that a Newborn Care Specialist will provide to a client. Daytime, overnight and 24/7 [a combination of day/overnight!] Any of these shifts can be live-in or live–out depending on the unique circumstances and situation. The tasks/responsibilities are not one size fits all. If you are a Postpartum Doula as well you might add additional support services, and alternatively some individuals have “standard” tasks that they are not comfortable providing. 

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DAYTIME

Shifts that happen between 8am - 8pm and typically with a 4 hour minimum. Typically the NCS lives locally, works 4-12 hours and goes home in-between.

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OVERNIGHTS

Shifts that happen between 8pm - 8am and typically run 12 hours in length. Typically the NCS lives locally, works 8-12 hours and goes home in between.

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24/7 CARE

Live-in “around the clock” newborn care. Most shifts range from 16-20 hour shifts for each 24 hour period with a 4-8 hour break. [*The industry standard is to bill for the working hours and not the break.] Some parents want true 24/7 care which requires being available all 24 hours a day and allow for rest when the baby sleeps. This is not typically recommended so that the NCS can be well-rested/provide safe care. Some 24/7 live-in care often involves travel.

What to Expect as a Newborn Care Specialist

STANDARD TASKS & RESPONSIBILITIES YOU CAN EXPECT FOR ALL NCS SHIFTS:

  • Diapering, umbilical cord, and circumcision care
  • General newborn care/soothing
  • Assisting the family with feeding issues, including formula feeding and facilitating breast/chestfeeding, as requested
  • Preparing bottles (breastmilk and/or formula)
  • Practicing proper breastmilk or formula storage
  • Creating and implementing healthy feeding and sleeping schedule/routines to match the family’s needs
  • Organizing & maintaining a clean nursery, including emptying the diaper pail, restocking diapers and wipes and keeping things tidy
  • Assisting in establishing healthy age-appropriate sleep hygiene and habits
  • Taking over solo care of the newborn as requested
  • Recognizing potential signs of allergies, illnesses, disorders, developmental delays or disabilities and recommending an appropriate referral.
  • Washing and sterilizing bottles/Pump Parts.

OVERNIGHT SHIFTS

  • Washing all items that were used during the shift

DAY OR 24/7 SHIFTS

  • Washing all items related to the newborn [even that were used with the parents]
  • Bathing the newborn (typically during daylight hours or shifts that start >1 hour before baby’s bedtime)