When I gave birth to my daughter three and a half years ago, my husband and I tackled the newborn months like any new parents would: with little sleep, a good amount of confusion, and a lot of love. Welcoming a baby into the world often requires major adjustments, and hiring a baby nurse is how many families cope with all the change. What exactly is a baby nurse?

A baby nurse is essentially a nanny with specialized training and/or experience with newborns -- not to be confused with a medical nurse. They are paid a hefty fee for around the clock care, especially through the night. I decided to hire a nurse for my second baby after realizing I wouldn't have opportunities to sneak in extra sleep like I did with my first.

As a stay-at-home mom, I was admittedly concerned about having an additional person living in my apartment and tending to my newborn. I was accustomed to calling the shots on day-to-day decisions when it pertained to my daughter. Despite my reservations however, I went forward with the interview process and hired a baby nurse.

In hindsight, I don't think I was diligent or direct enough with my interview questions and ended up hiring someone who wasn't a great fit. A typical baby nurse lives and works for you 7 days a week; therefore a personality match is a huge part of creating a successful work relationship. Let's just say ours was a mismatch. As a second-time mom, I needed someone who followed my lead with the baby, not the other way around. In many ways, I felt as if I was tiptoeing around in my own home and nervous to provide feedback to someone who was caring for my baby (and wasn't always very receptive).

That said, I exclusively breastfed my son and found the nighttime help extremely helpful. The baby slept in a mini crib near the nurse and was brought to me for every feed. I was still waking up several times a night, but I was able to go directly back to sleep while the nurse tended to the baby. The nurse was also very helpful to me during the day when I needed to run my daughter back and forth to preschool.

There's no doubt that a baby nurse can be a tremendous asset to your family as you navigate the newborn phase and beyond, but finding the right one makes all the difference! Whether you are looking for a laid back personality or someone who will show you the ropes with confidence, here are 5 tips for hiring the right baby nurse for your family.

  1. Assess your family's need. Before you even meet with the potential candidates, determine your priorities and figure out how you want to see your baby cared for -- whether it is how (and when) the baby is fed, clothed or bathed.
  2. Clearly state what you want during the interview. Many relationships between parents and baby nurses (or other caregivers for that matter) fail over miscommunication. So let the interviewees know what you need and what you are expecting of them as a baby nurse.
  3. Ask them about their baby rearing philosophy and techniques. Before hiring the person who will help you raise your little one, make sure that she or he is not only a good fit for your family, but also knowledgeable in all aspects of infant care. What sleep training methods do they use? Do they have any certifications that could be useful to both you and the baby (like being a certified lactation consultant)? Have they trained in any specific realm of infancy, like breastfeeding and the care of preemies and multiples? These questions will help you get a sense of how the candidates work.
  4. Check their qualifications. You don't want to waste your time with under qualified candidates, so before meeting with them, run a background check. Agencies can do that at the local, state and federal levels. Ask for a resume and evaluate their certifications (which can range from Infant Care specialist, to LVN and RN, to infant CPR). Do a couple of reference checks to confirm what was said during the interviews and to get a sense of what the families' experiences were like.
  5. Trust your gut. One candidate told me that I would need to pump and have her give he baby a bottle at night. I wasn't interested in doing that and knew right then that she wouldn't be the right fit. A baby nurse will be an integral part of your family, whether you choose to have 24/7 help or not. So make sure you feel comfortable with the person youplan on hiring, and if you feel like it “clicks," it's a pretty good sign.