Newborn Care + Postpartum

What is a Newborn Care Specialist and Do I need one?

By Diane Sirpenski, Founder of New England Newborn Care 12/6/2020 10 minutes

"What is a Newborn Care Specialist?" People ask me that all the time.

A Newborn Care Specialist (NCS) is a bit like a nanny, and many of us have worked as one. An NCS generally has taken a course with a recognized training school or academy, earning a completion certificate. The classes cover everything you need to know about caring for a newborn, from their new baby appearance to breast and formula feeding to working with multiples. There are also NCS certifications. However, no governing board oversight like with medical nurses. All Newborn Care Specialists should have a current CPR and first aid certification.

Did you know? You can now add newborn care support and classes to your registry! Learn more.

Years ago, newborn care specialists were called "baby nurses," think Downton Abbey. Nowadays, we are called Newborn Care Specialists because we can't use the term "baby nurses." However, some pediatric nurses care for newborns in the home, and they are true "baby nurses." 

What Does A Newborn Care Specialist Do?
On some occasions (before COVID-19), an NCS can come to the hospital as your support person; perhaps your partner needs to stay home with an older child. But most often, we come into your home after you return from the hospital with your newborn. If you're a first-time parent and have little experience with babies, an NCS can be your teacher. Not your first baby? We can be an extra pair of hands, offering up-to-date information on what's new in the world of babies. Some parents like to watch and learn anything and everything, from how to pace feed to bathing a newborn. Other parents rely on us to care for their baby during our entire shift while they get some much needed rest. 

What does an NCS shift look like?
A night shift can be anywhere from 8 to 12 hours. Our goal at night is to come in and help parents get some sleep. We feed, burp, and change baby, and get them settled back to sleep. If you are nursing, we can bring your baby right to your bedside and help get them latched if needed. Many newborn care specialists are certified lactation consultants or have a good knowledge of breastfeeding. After nursing, you can go right back to sleep while your NCS puts your baby back to sleep. Our hope is to settle your little one into a good routine and get them on the right track for healthy sleep habits. Most importantly, an NCS follows SAFE sleep practices. You may find us removing bumpers and toys from the crib as well as mobiles.

We have lots of tricks up our sleeve for promoting a good sleep environment. Some of us stick electrical tape on anything that emits light in the nursery. A few of us carry a red light to use in the nursery as it doesn't upset a newborn's sleep cycles. 

Does an NCS Sleep During a Night Shift?
We rest our eyes while your baby sleeps, so a spare bed or comfy couch is necessary. Overnight awake care is available though, but generally at a higher cost.

Are Newborn Care Specialists Available During Day Hours? 
We are available for day shifts and can help tidy the nursery, stock the changing table, and wash your baby's laundry. During the day, we make sure your little love is well cared for. We guide them through appropriate activities such as going for walks, tummy time, and bathing. An NCS should always take care of cleaning bottles and breast pump parts before the end of her shift. 

On a side note, some family situations require a live-in NCS. A newborn care specialist can travel around the country or even the world with you. Their contract can be a week to six months or longer.

In a day and age where families live far apart and grandparents may not be available to help, a good newborn care specialist can be worth her weight in gold! Many continue to take professional development classes to expand their knowledge in everything baby. You can guarantee they know the latest in the best baby gear, formulas, and gadgets.

An accomplished NCS will be able to guide and have an excellent network of specialists and colleagues that can answer most questions. There is also evidence to suggest having a helping hand can lower the chances of postpartum depression and anxiety in new moms. 

Do You Need an NCS? 
We are often thought of as a luxury, but it's becoming more and more common. Modern parents have more pressure and less support than previous generations. I often suggest that a gift certificate for a night or two makes a thoughtful baby shower gift!


Diane Sirpenski, Founder of New England Newborn Care

With over 30 years in the childcare field, Diane brings a wealth of knowledge to families. Her passion for newborns and calm & loving manner instills a confidence in new parents, thus accommodating them in the transition of bringing a new baby home. Diane is originally from the United Kingdom and has helped numerous families in both the UK and US. Her experience ranges from pre-school teacher, long-term nanny, and Newborn Care Specialist (NCS). She has experience with special needs infants as well and is CPR certified. She also was selected as a volunteer “baby cuddler” at Women & Infants Hospital in Providence, RI. Diane currently resides in the beautiful waterside town of Bristol, Rhode Island with her husband and two daughters of the ages 19 & 25.