Families with newborns have unique and special needs that no other families have. After researching references and background checks, here are 5 questions you may also want to ask.
1. Do you have your flu shot?
Babies cannot receive a flu shot before 6 months of age so they are especially vulnerable to influenza. Parents should know that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) calls the "mandatory immunization of all health care personnel an 'ethical, just, and necessary' means to improve patient safety.”
2. Are you up to date on all other vaccinations?
Hepatitis B, MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) and TDaP (Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis, also known as Whooping Cough) should all be current and documented in your child’s caregiver. According to the Centers for Disease Control, TDaP "is especially important for...anyone having close contact with a baby younger than 12 months...Infants are most at risk for severe, life-threatening complications from pertussis.” Even if an adult has had the TDaP vaccine as a child, whooping cough booster shots are recommended for adults.
3. How will you support my feeding decisions?
While your doula or newborn caregiver may be experienced, you are the parent and decide what's best for your family. Asking how your feeding decisions will be supported is a great conversation to have before baby arrives to be sure you are comfortable. If breastfeeding is a priority for example, you may want someone who is comfortable troubleshooting potential challenges. If formula is an option, you may want someone who’s also comfortable giving formula.
4. What kind of Experience, relevant Certifcates or Continuing Education do you have?
We try to stay away from saying what parents and caregivers should or shouldn’t do, but the one exception to this is in safety. For babies 0-1 year old, caregivers should demonstrate thorough knowledge of basic safety, carseat safety and reducing the risk of SIDS. If you'd like to be sure your caregiver understands how to reduce the risk of SIDS, the AAP offers a comprehensive, free online course, which issues a certificate after completion.
First Aid and CPR Certification should also be a given for every caregiver. Other continuing education and safety courses offered by regulated agencies show a caregiver's commitment to their profession and an understanding that recommendations for baby care can change over time. Experience is another excellent indicator of commitment though, and there are many wonderful night nannies and newborn care providers without certificates and formal training. Just because someone has taken a newborn care training class doesn’t mean they have ever held a real baby.
On the same note, it may be important to you to know that your doula or night nurse is accountable to a state or other governing body.
It's important to note that only professionals who have completed Registered Nursing, Certified Nurse Midwife or other higher level Licensed Nursing degrees should be called "nurse" or "baby nurse." Without these licensures, is actually illegal to use the term "baby nurse" in many states.
5. What is your philosophy on care and how will you soothe my baby?
Caregivers who understanding how to support philosophies and goals such as attachment parenting, sleep training, a baby-led approach and other early care intentions create a partnership between families and caregivers, not just a "babysitter" relationship.
On this note, you may wish to ask your night nurse or doula how s/he typically soothes baby. Someone who can explain many safe ways to comfort babies is not only demonstrating experience, but also that they understand that each little child has different needs.
As you search for the perfect caregiver, we hope these questions will help.
This article was written by the staff at Let Mommy Sleep, the Industry Leaders in Newborn Care.