What is a Newborn Care Specialist Anyway?

There is a lot of confusion in parenting groups, nanny, doula, and newborn care specialist groups about what the differences are between all of the support available to new parents.

Even inside the industry, many providers do not understand what the others do and have a tendency to misclassify, refer incorrectly, and generally misunderstand the differences.

For the purposes of this post, we are going to be specifically focusing on care for babies aged newborn to 6 months. Nannies tend to stick around longer, or don’t even start until babies are older, and that’s a completely different post.

It doesn’t help that many of us wear multiple hats, love to take additional trainings, and tend to prefer one “title” over the other, even if we hold several. This is my best shot at a simple explanation.

(All information below is generalized, for ease of information. Individual providers will have a variety of education and experience. Asking the right questions, based on your needs and requirements will tell you who is the best fit for your family.)

There are several ways to break this down, so let’s start with the biggest question on everyone’s mind.


Whew, boy does this VARY depending on where you live, and the individual provider.

GENERALLY, when working with brand new babies, wearing only one hat, this is the tier you will see.

All of these providers can work as an individual and set their own rates based on what they believe their time is worth.

All of these providers can work with agencies like Colorado Mountain Doulas or Colorado Newborn to help them find placements, which will include additional fees to account for the work the agency does.

Nannies and NCS are household employees, paid by the families they work for through a payroll system.

Postpartum Doulas almost always own and operate their own businesses and may choose to bill from their business directly or contract their service through an agency or collective of some sort.

NCS can also choose to operate as a business if that is their preference.


  • Nanny-parent lead
  • Postpartum doula-team with parents
  • Newborn Care Specialist-NCS lead

Nannies, (when wearing only one hat) historically do not have specific training in newborns and are there to provide care under a parent’s direction.

Postpartum Doula is trained specifically to care for the entire family with an emphasis on your recovery from birth, and emotional support. They “meet you where you are at” with a combination of following your lead and style while offering tips, tricks, and guidance as requested.

A Newborn Care Specialist is exactly as the name suggests. They specialize in the most up-to-date information regarding newborn care and that is their focus. They are more likely to take over care in the parent’s stead, create routines, and focus on development including nutrition, sleep, and unique/rare situations.


  • Nanny
    • A long-term commitment of 6 months to many years of growing with a family.
    • May live in with a family
  • Postpartum Doula
    • Shorter contracts
    • Often working with multiple families at a time.
    • 1-7 shifts per week
    • Day or night
    • As little as one time, or for as long as a year or two
    • Common contract lengths are 6, 8, or 12 weeks
    • When families return to work, babies go to daycare or other childcare.
  • Newborn Care Specialist
    • Books out 6-9 months in advance
    • Works full time or more
    • Focus on one family at a time
    • At least 5 shifts per week
    • Day or night
    • Live-in care
    • 20, 18, 12, or 10-hour shifts
    • Common contract lengths are 3 months, 6 months, or a year
    • Babies usually move on to nanny care.

Still Not Sure Which Provider is Best for Your Family?

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