I was recently chatting with an expecting twin mom and I gave her my go-to piece of advice: consider hiring a night nanny. Really, I was just passing down good advice for this was probably the most widely given piece of advice that I received when I talked to twin mom friends before the girls were born.
Interestingly, I’ve observed that the topic and idea of a night nanny can get a little charged with many moms having very strong opinions on the idea, and some being very opposed to the concept. I understand and respect those opinions, and certainly would never push anyone to hire a night nanny if they don’t feel it’s right for them. But for anyone curious about how this arrangement works, I thought I would share my own experience.
As a reminder, our twinbling girls were born five weeks apart. About two and three months before they were born, I did research on hiring a night nanny by reaching out to several agencies and providers of the service. I emailed seven different providers, and received quotes back from five. In the Chicago area, the quotes ranged from $23 – $35 an hour for twins. All of them required a minimum 8-hour shift.
I was pretty floored by these numbers! There was just no way we could afford that. I mean, I had heard that a night nanny was expensive, but ouch.
So I thought about ways to cut this down, and I asked these providers if they would be open to a part-time arrangement. I understood that an 8-hour shift was not negotiable, but what about only three nights a week instead of full-time?
I was lucky that three of the providers were very open to this idea. Still, we were looking at a pretty big expense and I just couldn’t get Mr. Starfish to commit to that kind of financial outlay. I explained this to the night nannies, and they all were very understanding. They recommended that I keep their information handy, and to be in touch once our little ones arrived.
Well, about three months later, Mr. Starfish and I had our two newborn babies. And we quickly became tired and exhausted. Only ten days from our youngest daughter’s arrival, Mr. Starfish conceded defeat and groggily asked me if I still had the contact information for a night nanny.
Through tired laughter, I immediately emailed my top choice from my previous research and our wonderful night nanny started two nights later. Her services were certainly expensive, and an indisputable luxury. Still, it made those first few months more bearable and I don’t regret having spent that money.
So what exactly does a night nanny do? As already mentioned, we had ours come three nights a week: Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. We started when our youngest was about 2 weeks and concluded when she was about 10 weeks old. On her scheduled nights, the nanny arrived at 10:30 PM and stayed until 6:30 AM (8 hours).
Her primary job was waking with the girls for all nighttime feedings and diapers. I exclusively pumped and she used warmed breastmilk for feedings and she did not wake me; for mothers that are breastfeeding, my understanding is that a night nanny brings the baby to the mother but handles the burping and changing that is associated with getting the baby back to sleep.
Our night nanny also did some light chores, including the girls’ laundry, emptying the diaper pails, and hand-washing bottles. She also recorded all of the girls’ bottles, diaper action, and sleep for us so that we stayed on track during the day.
Our house is set up so that the girls’ nursery is right next to a guest bedroom. We encouraged our night nanny to rest in that bedroom and even sleep if she wanted (when the girls were not in need of care of course). I’ve seen on some Facebook discussions that some parents expect their night nannies to be awake the entire night even if the baby is sleeping and I personally never felt this way. I grew to really love our night nanny, and she did a great job caring for our girls. If she wanted to take a nap when there was nothing else for her to do, I encouraged that and it didn’t bother me in the least.
Perhaps the biggest side-benefit of having a night nanny was that we had someone who was a baby sleep expert giving us advice and coaching us in those early months. Both of our girls were sleeping 12 hours straight through the night by about 5-6 months old. Maybe they would have been doing that without the advice and instruction of our night nanny, but I like to give her the credit for that. That also allows me to feel a little bit better about the money that we spent on our night nanny!
About a year after our time with our night nanny came to an end, we remain in touch to this day. She regularly texts us for updates about the girls, and we always let her know that they are wonderful sleepers. I also have acted as a reference for her as she has lined up other families for night nanny work, and it is easy to sing her praises. I credit Ms. Martha with saving my sanity in those early months, and I will continue to advise expecting twin mommas to consider hiring a night nanny.