There are many childcare options today, including getting an overnight nanny if you're a parent that works on shift or just want someone to help you through the stressful first months of caring for a newborn. Night nannies can help to establish night-time structure in a child/children's lives and can ease the burden of caring for young ones, especially for working parents. A child's daytime and night-time needs are a little different, so these must be considered separately when getting a night-time caregiver. Below are tips for what to look for.
1. What do the children need?
What you need from a night nanny depends on the children's needs. Consider your child's age and night-time regimen. If you're away, you need someone well-versed with these regimens including bathing and feeding young children and helping older children with their studies. For newborns, you may prefer a nanny with specialized training in infant care, since their needs are different from older children's needs.
Draw up a schedule for each child's night to make it easy for the caregiver to work through the required tasks without overlooking anything – medication if any, pre-bed activities, meal-times and menus and ongoing trainings (e.g. toilet training). Children with special needs may need additional care, especially if you have more than one child.
2. How much does it cost?
The cost of overnight care varies depending on the age of the children, number of children, your area's rates and any special requirements (e.g. caring for a disabled child). Do not expect to pay less just because the children are asleep. Nannies from agencies are usually costlier, but these have the advantage of some training and background checks and so may be safer than going with an independent nanny. You should also factor in overtime costs for those unanticipated delays that may keep them longer than pre-set work hours.
3. Where do they sleep?
Make arrangements for the caregiver's sleeping. Ideally, you should have an extra room in the house for them, preferably close to where the child/children sleep. A newborn's caregiver can be set up on a temporary bed in the nursery, since infants are more care-intensive and need closer monitoring than older children. Separate rooms should be provided for older children and their caregivers to allow for privacy of both – you can set up a place for the nanny in the living room if there's no other room in the house.
4. What are your expectations?
Be upfront about your expectations of the nanny: do you need them to remain awake while the child(ren) sleep(s) or can they sleep too? What time should they come in and leave? What arrangements shall be made to deal with unanticipated circumstances (e.g. if you're held up at work or your daytime nanny is unavailable?) At the time of interviewing, be clear on your reasons for hiring them, which will help determine their job description and your expectations. You should also reveal how long you'll need them for so that they are available and can make arrangements for the rest of their time.
5. Can they handle emergencies?
You can get a feel of the caregiver's training and experience by posing hypothetical child-related scenarios. You can also ask arbitrary questions which can help you get to know them: what their favourite bedtime stories are, what their night routine looks like, how infants should be placed in a crib, what routine they would have for a child that age etc. Once hired, they should have all the emergency numbers readily available. If they have no car, ensure that you have a taxi cab's number ready in case a child needs to go to hospital.