If you're struggling to cope with your newborn baby a night nanny might just be the answer.
Nina Sebastiane: For many new parents, the joy of their new born baby is quickly tampered by the nightmare of sleepless nights as their little bundle of joy suddenly turns into a nocturnal wailing monster. Well, Anastasia Baker from Night Nannies is here to help give you the nights of uninterrupted sleep that you can only dream about. Welcome Anastasia, and Amelia and Alexander as well, we mustn't forget. Now, why did you setup Night Nannies? Anastasia Baker: Well, Alexander and Amelia were my inspiration. Al came very soon after Amelia and all I was worried about were the sleepless nights. And I was working at the time. And I rang up about 18 agencies to try and get some help at night and they all couldn't help me, they thought it was a very strange request. So, I eventually found somebody and she was just fantastic. Just three nights a week, that's all I had, but it was enough to get off the exhaustion of getting up there or four times a night and trying to be in a sane and alert stage of mind to work in the day. Nina Sebastiane: So, what do Night Nannies do for you when they turn up then? Anastasia Baker: Well, they arrive at 9 and leave at 7 in the morning. And they are there to do what a maternity nurse would do, i.e. sort out any sleep or feeding problems. Organize, any sleeping routines that need to be organized, if your baby is up all night. If they got colic or reflux, the nanny will hold them and sort them out. And give advice on breast feeding or any issues like that. Organize the nursery and sort out a good routine for you to follow. Nina Sebastiane: And Anastasia how many nannies do you have on your book? Anastasia Baker: A 120 now, all working out around London area and we've got 8 franchises around the country, in all the sort of major counties. So, I think overall, maybe 300 or 400 working around the UK. Nina Sebastiane: And what qualifications do you need to become a night nanny? Anastasia Baker: A real mix, but obviously have a lot of new born experience because most of the babies are a few weeks old. And we've got a lots of mid-wives, a lot of pediatric nurses that work at Great Ormond Street in the day and they want to do maybe two or three nights a week for us. Nina Sebastiane: Yeah, great! And I remember from my first baby being born, those first two or three weeks are just awful. Because you've hardly recovered from the birth and you're kind of literally pulling yourself up and my partner was great and he kind of did the shift with me. But still, it was really tough and especially with the breast feeding. But how can, say that the night nanny help, if you were breast feeding for example? Anastasia Baker: Well, they can bring the baby in, for a feed in the middle of the night. Because the feeding only takes a few 20 minutes. It's all the settling and sorting out after that, the winding can take up to an hour, and so they can do that. Or you can express some milk, for the feed at night, for the nanny to give. Or you can just come in and do the feed and then leave and the beauty of it is, you don't have to worry about changing the nappy or sorting out the winding and the burping and all of that. Nina Sebastiane: Now I mean, you've worked in the media yourself. And it sounds like a very extravagant thing to be able to organize. How expensive is it to book a night nanny? Anastasia Baker: Prices start from £60 a night, and it is a luxury -- the average person does maybe 2 or 3 nights a week and they get the same nanny who comes back week after week until they don't need her anymore. So, it's usually, you cannot expect the baby to sleep through the night, until they're 4 months old, when they're on solids. So, it's a lot of getting up in the night. So, I just think to treat yourself, don't go out for dinner, just have a night nanny instead. Do you know what I mean? Nina Sebastiane: For a night out, here you go, what price is a goodnight sleep, I suppose? Anastasia Baker: Exactly! Nina Sebastiane: Alexander, what do you think about all of this? Were you a good baby? Alexander: I was very bad! Nina Sebastiane: Did you sleep through the night -- you were very bad baby? Oh! you're admitting it, are you? So, what did you use to do? Can you remember? Alexander: Not really, I can't! Nina Sebastiane: What does mummy say you used to do? Anastasia Baker: I think, you used to wake up two or three nights a week -- two or three times a night, and Amelia was the same. She didn't sleep through till she was 6 months. Alexander: Really! I can't remember that! Nina Sebastiane: You can't! You were too wee probably. But what do you think of your mum's business then? Amelia: I like it! Nina Sebastiane: You think it's good! Do you think, you might like to be a night nanny one day? You might go around and help little babies settle? Anastasia Baker: She'd be very good at it. She is as good as she is with her dollies. Nina Sebastiane: That's fantastic. So essentially, it's a case of picking up the phone and calling you. So, have you almost got an emergency hotline, where people phone and go, I can't take it anymore, I need my sleep, help! Anastasia Baker: I -- part of the reason I setup Night Nannies was, because I didn't want to remain a reporter in television, because I find it very -- really difficult with a family. So, I wanted to set up a business I could do from home and still pick up the kids from the school and spend that time with them. So no, it's not, doesn't encourage too much on my life and I do turn that machine, to answering machine at the weekends. Because I need a break too. But yes, we get a lot of clients that felt that they could cope and then after 6 weeks the exhaustion has really set in, and they need help and we can usually find somebody the next day or that night. Nina Sebastiane: Fantastic! Now obviously you've got a lot of experience, you've got two of your own and you've got this, whole well 120 mid-wives, nursery nurses, nannies, you name it. What tips can you give to people watching at home, going, oh! Well, that's all very well. I can't really afford £60 a pop, but my baby is waking up in the middle of the night, help! Anastasia Baker: I think, if the baby has a good organized routine in the day and they have regular structured sleeps, a lot of people assume if I keep my baby up all day it'll sleep at night, but a baby can get over tired. You know how you are, these children when they've done too much in the day. They tend to have a fitful night and it's the same with the babies. And if you can keep your baby up after 4'o clock from tea time onwards, and if you're trying to put them down at 7 or 8, they'll go down well then. Try not to let them sleep after four. And try and get a good sleep going before or after lunch, like a good hour-and-a-half, a good two hours. And that's hard to do and people, some of my clients say, My baby is awake all night and I haven't got a good routine. It's really hard to do. Nina Sebastiane: At a-week-old it would be impossible to -- Anastasia Baker: Of course, surely! But there is a lot of pressure. And a lot of people have read the Gina Ford book and various other books on those routines and they take it too literally. But I used to think, everyday is a new day, maybe it'll happen today. And you can only do your best and sort of strive towards it. But I think, by two or three months your baby should be in a good regular routine. You cannot expect your baby to sleep through before they're on solids. Nina Sebastiane: Well I've got a question for you. I had my first baby, it was text-book and she did do all the nice sleepy things, but just lately, and she is 18 months now. She has started waking up about five in the morning demanding milk, and it's a real killer, as you can imagine, because at 5 a.m. you really don't want to be disturbed. Any advice for me? Anastasia Baker: I think, if you can really pump, give her lots of carbs for that last dinner at night, maybe put it to 6 or 7'o clock, give her lots of potato pasta, that kind of thing. And then you obviously; do you give her a bottle -- does she have milk at night? Nina Sebastiane: She has a bottle before she goes to bed. Anastasia Baker: And then she goes to bed, at what? 7? Nina Sebastiane: 7, 7:30. Anastasia Baker: And does she have black out blinds? Because it's been very light in the morning obviously in the summer months. Nina Sebastiane: Well, it's interesting you say that, because I think that maybe at 5o'clock what happens is, she gets a bit cold as well. Anastasia Baker: Does she have a baby -- you know -- Nina Sebastiane: The little sleep suits? Anastasia Baker: Exactly! Nina Sebastiane: She outgrew it! So I've just got a little two-way for her now. So maybe I should think about -- Anastasia Baker: Yes! I would definitely think about that, because they're fantastic, as they can't get cold in that, the blankets -- you know, they're in a sleep bag. They're very good invention. It could be the light, it could be, you're right, she is getting cold. But she doesn't need to be fed at 5. I would water down the milk at five, wean her off that milk feed, she doesn't need it. You know she is having enough in the day. So, what I did with these two, when I got really fed up, with Amelia, I watered down her milk in the middle of the night. It was a feed she didn't need. She is having all her solids, she had enough bottles in the day. Nina Sebastiane: And did she stop waking up? Anastasia Baker: And after three nights, I put like a couple of scoops of milk to 6 ounces of water and then the next night, just one scoop of milk and then the next night nothing and there was a gentle aversion of just giving her water, which was screaming and yelling out. Nina Sebastiane: Yes, yes! Anastasia Baker: So, it was the taste of milk. But just she spat it out and it just wasn't worth waking up for. She just couldn't be bothered and after 3 nights, she slept though -- and I did the same thing with him. But you can't do that kind of thing until they are well established on solids. So, my night nannies wouldn't do that until they're on 5 or 6 months, but at 18 months -- Nina Sebastiane: She shouldn't be waking up. Anastasia Baker: And she is getting into a habit. Can she not play happily in her cart? Nina Sebastiane: Well she kind of -- at 5'o clock she is up and she does the sign language that, and she says I want milk and it's obvious so I kind of, what can I do. Anastasia Baker: You've got it. It's going to be a week of hell, a week of hell. But you're just going to say, I am sorry it's water, that's it. And she is just not going to bother you for water. Nina Sebastiane: Absolutely! Well I shall take that aboard, I am going to do that -- Anastasia Baker: But try and do it in a week when you're not doing anything else. Nina Sebastiane: I'll, I'll and I'll report back. Thank you for that. So, Amelia what is your sleep like now? Do you like your bed? Anastasia Baker: They are fantastic sleepers. It would be embarrassing, if they weren't, wouldn't it for me? Nina Sebastiane: Alexander, do you have difficulty getting out of your bed in the morning? Anastasia Baker: So difficult! Alexander: No. Nina Sebastiane: No? Anastasia Baker: No! When school starts suddenly he is very difficult to get out of bed. Nina Sebastiane: When school starts you don't want to get out, don't you? Do you like your bed? It's a nice place, that's great stuff. Amelia, Alexander, Anastasia thank you very much for coming in and talking to us today. Anastasia Baker: Pleasure!