By Marion Smith
Your babies have arrived home and you are so excited to finally have two or even three bundles to
finally put into the nursery that you have spent countless hours decorating. There has been many a
day you have sat in the arm chair carefully positioned staring into the cots dreaming about the
moment you will get to see and touch your babies. You couldn’t wait to hear the cries and
immediately kick into ‘ mom mode” and take charge of the situation offering endless hugs and
That can all change in one sleepless night as you begin to wonder how you are going to get
through the night and still sleep and then take care of your babies during the day.
Many families resort the use of a night nanny or night nurse. This is a costly exercise but as many
will tell you even one or two nights off “mom and dad” duty a week can give anybody the sanity that
Aupairs Exclusive has been placing night nurses in Gauteng and KZN for ten years. They find that
the most common schedule is to have a nurse work is from Sunday to Thursday night as dad is
home to help on a Friday and Saturday night. Another common option is one night on and one
night off, this makes it more affordable and still gives you a chance to have some sleep. For this
option you are ideally looking at a Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday night.
What is the difference between a night nurse and a night nanny?
The biggest difference would be the qualifications. A night nurse is exactly as it states a qualified
nurse who has worked either in the maternity ward, paediatrics or NICU. A night nanny is a lady
who has a care workers certificate and has also completed her practicals. Both ladies could have
also completed a basic sleep training course that Aupairs Exclusive offers and is taught by Pikanini
Baby Academy. They ladies will also earn different salaries. Both ladies will wear a uniform when
What do they earn?
A night nanny earns between R300 – R350 a night for a twelve hour shift whereas a night nurse
earns between R350 – R450 a night depending on her experience and the needs of your babies
How long are their contracts?
There is no minimum requirement for this so one can employ a nurse for one week or for six
months to a year. it is entirely up to you. The norm is to have a person for 3 months and then
extend it month by month if needed until you babies are sleeping through. Nobody wants to pay
someone to sit and watch their babies sleep.
What do I need to provide for my night nurse?
So long as there is a comfortable armchair in the room for her to sit on nothing else is needed.
Some households have a single bed in the room if there is enough space. This is not always
recommend as you don’t want your nurse falling into a deep sleep. Another option is to allow the
nurse to sit in the lounge and watch TV quietly if you have baby monitors that she can use.
Providing meals is not expected but tea and coffee and a light snack is something that should be
available for her during the night
Can I use a night nurse if I am breast feeding?
Most definitely. The nurse will come and wake you up at the time you have asked her to and then
assist you with the breast feeding. She may help you latch the babies on if you are struggling. She
will then take them and burp them as they finish drinking, change their nappies and put them back
to sleep. This assistance cuts down your awake time and you don’t need to stay in the room and
still try and settle them. If baby drinks slowly this allows you time to bond with this baby while the
other one is being attended to.
What duties can you expect the nurse to perform?
If it fits into your schedule she can bath the babies when she arrives. She will then prepare bottles,
feed the babies, burp them and put them down to sleep. The nurse will also empty the nappy bins
and wash and sterilise bottles before she leaves in the morning. You can also expect her to keep a
chart so that you know what time the babies ate, how much they ate and if they had any dirty
What are the working hours of a night nurse?
The ladies work a 12 hour shift, the most common is 18 h00 to 6am or 19h00 to 7am. The seven to
seven option is usually better as this allows the night nurse time to give a hand over to any day
staff that may be arriving
What should I look for when I am interviewing potential candidates?
The ideal candidate will have worked previously in homes with multiples. Hospital trained staff are
not necessarily the best candidates because they have many hands to help them while on shift so
they have not taken sole care of a child for 12 hours. A former night nanny will have taken care of
the twins on her own for 12 hours and this is the type of reference you want. You would also want
to know if she knows about sleep training and if it is a method you approve of. An important
question you could ask is how will she feed two babies at the same time and then put them down
to sleep. Very important is that the mom feels a connection with the candidate. The bedroom is
small and if your are breast feeding you are going o be spending a lot of time with her. You do not
want someone that you clash with. Some moms want a nurse that comes in and takes over, this is
often the case with first time moms. Other moms would prefer a nurse that listens to their
requirements and follows the routine set out by the mom even if it is not something the nurse the
approves of. Again this is a personal choice.
These are just some of the pointers for hiring a night nurse. In my opinion it is a life saver. A mom
who has slept can manage during the day, a mom who has not slept will be tired and this leads to
many other problems.
Don’t be scared to ask for help even if its only one or two nights a week.
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