Expert Newborn Care Specialist Answers Your FAQ
By Mandie Lewis
Are you ready to hire newborn care? Wondering if you need an NCS, PPD, LE, or IBCLC…say what?! To help families and nannies learn more about newborn care, we reached out to our trusted colleague, Malia Jane, to answer your questions.
What is an NCS?
A Newborn Care Specialist (NCS) is an individual who has great experience and specialized training in newborn care. A NCS comes into the home shortly after baby is born to care for the baby and educate the parents on best practices in newborn care. It is expected that a NCS be knowledgeable in a variety of methods pertaining to soothing, parenting, newborn well-being, abnormalities/sickness, and sleep conditioning (not to be confused with cry-it-out).
What are the scope of responsibilities an NCS covers?
The scope of a NCS includes care of the newborn, support and education for the parents. The NCS may oversee the cleanliness of the nursery, keep it stocked, and do baby’s laundry. Throughout the shift, the NCS will keep a log of feeds, diaper changes, medications, etc. If bottles, feeding devices, or pump parts are used, the NCS will wash them and prep bottles at the beginning of the shift. If the baby has medications or supplements, with signed permission from the parents, the NCS will administer baby’s medication at the appropriate time. I could make a long list of what an NCS may do for a family! In general, a NCS tries to be helpful as possible in many aspects of newborn care and parent education. A NCS can inform parents of signs and symptoms that are worrisome, refer the parents to their health care provider or another professional, but the NCS cannot make a diagnosis of any medical condition nor can they prescribe any mode of treatment.
What are the benefits of hiring an NCS?
Peace of mind knowing that your little one is receiving excellent care and that you are learning how to create a safe environment for your little one is one of the main reasons that a family might choose to hire an NCS. Having a non-judgmental care provider who is eager to help you become the parent you want to be is invaluable! If you need rest or want some time to leave the house for a while, parents can rest easy knowing NCS will care for the baby and go about her “chores” independently. One of the greatest benefits is the NCS giving the gift sleep to parents and their baby! A NCS is knowledgeable of different sleep conditioning methods, and are skilled in gently encouraging (healthy) babies to sleep long stretches, and more often, sleeping 10-12 hours per night around 12-16 weeks of age. Whether you are a first time parent, or a third time parent, having an NCS will take a load of stress out of acclimating to life in the 4th trimester, in addition to lowering the risk of postpartum depression.
What is the typical schedule for an NCS?
Typically a NCS works nights, with shifts varying 8-12 hours in length. Alternatively, a NCS can work daytime shifts, or round the clock, in which the NCS would live with the family for the duration of the contract.
How do I know if my NCS is highly qualified? What certifications should I look for?
When interviewing and looking at a potential NCS’s resume, look for the trainings that were taken. Ask the NCS about them. Not all trainings are created equal. Also look out for more than one NCS training. Does the NCS have doula, lactation educator, lactation counselor, IBCLC, infant massage, sleep conditioning & training, or other types of trainings or certifications relating to newborn care and serving families? Multiple trainings show that the NCS is dedicated to learning and staying up to date on best practices. Look for trainings and adequate amount of experience, as the two go hand in hand. It is also important to know that a Certificate of Training and a Certification are two different things and they are not all created equal either.
How does an NCS differ from a newborn nanny or postpartum doula?
While there are similarities between a NCS, postpartum doula, and newborn nanny, there are some notable differences. NCS’s take trainings that specialize in newborn care, going in depth about topics including sleep, digestion, overall health, and multiples. While postpartum doulas often care for newborns, their main goal tends to be nurturing the mother and providing services that pertain to the healing of the mother. Newborn nannies follow the instruction of the parents, whereas a NCS assess the parent’s goals and creates a plan to meet those goals.
What is your best piece of advice for a newborn mom?
In the midst of falling in love with your newborn every time you look at his or her precious face, remember to nourish your body. Eat! Even if it’s just a handful of whatever is easiest to grab from the fridge or pantry. Hydrate! It is so important to stay hydrated after birth, especially for those who are nursing. Rest when you can. This one is the hardest because babies often sleep in small increments for weeks before you see longer stretches. Sometimes the best you can do is snuggle and adore your baby while laying in bed. Do what you can.
I want to take my skills to the next level. How do I know if becoming an NCS is right for me?
If you have an interest in working with newborns, you will definitely benefit from NCS training. If you plan to be a nanny long-term and stay with family who plan on having multiple children, the training will still be excellent for you! When the new babies arrive, you will have the skills to provide excellent care and be a wealth of knowledge to your employers.
Why is training and certification necessary?
Training is important so that you are receiving relevant, science-based information on newborn care. Trainers have decades of experience and research under their belts, and it is a privilege to learn from them. You may have the best intentions, but without proper training, you may actually be putting the baby at risk. Currently, the only NCS certification that is government recognized is offered by CACHE Intl. out of the UK and it is available in the USA through their US representative Nanny Stella. However, certification is not required to be an excellent or successful NCS.
Where can I find training courses?
At the time of this posting, there are two INA members that offer training for Newborn Care Specialists and others that offer related courses. You can find more information on those under our INA Member Portal.
What are the benefits and challenges of a career as an NCS?
The greatest benefit is working with precious newborns and parents! Other benefits of being an NCS include having full control over how much or how little you want to work. There are opportunities for domestic and international travel, top-notch educational opportunities, and a great income. Challenges include the responsibility of running a business, stressful work situations, the effects of working nights long-term, and often the lack of sleep that can occur in jobs that are more physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding.
What advice can you give to a caregiver just starting out?
Start with a solid training. From there, network with experienced NCS’s who can give you advice while you are getting your start. Get yourself set up as a business first, so you don’t have to worry about it down the road. Be creative! There are many ways to get your foot in the door and start working with families who will find your services invaluable.
For more information, visit www.starlingagency.com
Footnotes and other notes:
NCS 101 Graphic – Mandie Lewis.PNG
Mandie is the owner of Starling Agency in Seattle, WA. With over 20 years in childcare and education, Mandie’s thoughtful and knowledgeable guidance has earned enthusiastic support from families, educators, and nannies.