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  • Writer's pictureBaby Whisperers

Baby Nurse, Nanny, Newborn Care Specialist, Oh My!

Updated: Jan 19, 2021

Baby nurse- a very trendy topic. It seems like every celebrity or note-worthy person that has a baby is using a baby nurse. However, along with the term baby nurse also comes confusion. What exactly is a baby nurse? How is that different from a nanny? What about home health nurses? How are Baby Whisperers different? Yikes! We are here to clear some of that up.

Baby Nurse

First things first, the term baby nurse is inaccurately a catch-all. People tend to use baby nurse interchangeably with nanny, newborn care specialist, night nurse, etc. However, it is important to understand the difference. Not every person calling herself a baby nurse is an actual nurse, and this is something you will want to clarify before hiring someone to care for your child. It is also important to check your state laws, as claiming to be a nurse without holding a nursing degree is illegal.


Nannies, night nannies, and babysitters all fall within this category. These are general caregivers. Nannies typically do not hold a degree or specific certification. Some nannies will maintain a CPR certification, but not all. While some nannies may have a college degree in something unrelated, most do not hold a degree. Benefits of a nanny include help with errands and housework, making them a good resource for a household needing many tasks done. Nannies also frequently have many years of experience as they typically stay with a family for long-term stents.

Newborn Care Specialist

Newborn Care Specialists (NCS), or sometimes referred to as Infant Care Specialists, are people typically with some type of newborn background who obtain a certification in newborn care. The certification is a course that teaches infant feeding skills, basic care, safe sleep, and some lactation information, etc. It consists of studying the material, sometimes in a class and sometimes by reading a book, then passing an exam to be certified. The Newborn Care Specialist Association (NCSA) sponsors certain courses, but there is no legal accreditation protocol for these courses as there is no formal education. If you are interested in hiring a NCS, check the NCSA site to make sure their certification is from an approved vendor. Always ask for a copy of their certification.

Newborn Care Specialists help with everything baby related. This means they typically do not help with the other children or housework, as opposed to a nanny. Families that hire a NCS usually use her to help take care of the baby, educate, take care of night feeds, stock baby supplies, etc for several weeks immediately following the birth of the baby. After 2-4 weeks, the family normally switches to a nanny or transitions to caring for the infant themselves. This is a good option for families that need someone to educate on basic infant skills.

Confused yet? Stick with us!

Baby Registered Nurse

Aha! Now to our favorite category!

This category is the true definition of “baby nurse”. Baby registered nurses have a RN degree and have experience as either pediatric or neonatal nurses within hospitals or outpatient centers and have taken their expertise into a home after the baby’s birth. This means he/she has a college degree, passed the board of nursing exam (NCLEX), and holds an active nursing license in one or more states. Baby nurses can help with everything that a Newborn Care Specialist does, with more expertise and emphasis on education and lactation assistance. Most baby nurses have worked in hospitals, so they have more comprehensive experience in assessing and identifying medical issues or concerns. A baby nurse’s goal is to educate and empower the family to transition to family care or nanny care after their term is complete. Baby nurses are a beautiful blend of being college educated, experienced, responsible, and having a love for babies and children. Our company, Baby Whisperers, matches families with nurses in this category. For more information on the benefits of hiring a baby nurse, check out our other post “5 Reasons to Hire a Baby Nurse”.

Below is an easy visual to help understand the differences between these categories:

Below are a few other professions that can sometimes be confused with baby nurses.

Doula and Midwife

Doulas and midwives help care for the mother during pregnancy and birth. Sometimes these two can also care for the mother post-partum. Doulas are trained in comforting mother during birth, while midwives hold a master’s degree and can help deliver the baby. These are very different from the above categories in that they do not typically help care for the baby after the birth past a couple days, if at all.

Home Health Nurse

Many have confused home health nurses with baby registered nurses (RNs). Both titles can be called baby nurses or pediatric nurses interchangeably as they both are legally a nurse. The major difference is the medical status of the child. If your child is born with or acquired medical issues that require assistance at home, your doctor will verify need for help at home and a home health agency will send RN’s to help care for the child. This will be covered by most insurances, at least partially. The nurse that shows up to help with your special needs child is the home health nurse. These nurses are trained in pediatrics and can take care of any aged child with medical needs.

That’s all folks! If you still have questions regarding these categories or would like us to clarify another type of profession, please do not hesitate to reach out or comment below. We would love to hear from you!

Jeri Ford, RN, BSN, CPN

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