The first month of being a new parent can be the most challenging period of your life, whether you are a mother or father. Tending to the needs of a helpless tiny human around the clock can be particularly daunting and (trust me) extremely exhausting.
That is why confinement nannies (nannies who care for newborns and help the mother recover from birth) are almost like a godsend to some parents.
But the cost of hiring a confinement nanny and their services come at a price. Be prepared to set aside a few thousand dollars if you are considering on getting a confinement nanny after your delivery. Moreover, as many confinement nannies are from Malaysia, you may incur additional costs such as swab tests and Stay-Home Notice accommodation that is required due to Covid-19.
Here’s a guide on how and where to hire a confinement nanny, and the costs that you can expect to pay (as well as some additional costs that you may have to end up paying).
What do confinement nannies do?
Full-time confinement nannies are live-in nannies who stay in the same household for up to a month or more. Before you make a financial decision on whether to hire a confinement nanny, do consider the tasks of what the nanny will be taking on, especially if you already have a helper or someone in the household to share some chores with.
A confinement nanny’s focus is on the baby and mum’s well-being. This includes:
- Feeding the baby and changing diapers, including keeping a log on feeding times and number of soiled diapers
- Bathing baby
- Laundry for mum and baby
- Confinement bath with herbs for mum
- Brewing confinement herbal tonics
- Preparing confinement food
- Occasional domestic chores such as sweeping and mopping
- Giving advice on how to look after baby and postpartum recovery
The above tasks may vary from nanny to nanny. Nannies work almost around the clock and some even sleep with the babies at night so that they can tend to the little ones without disturbing the mother.
Mothers who wish to focus on postpartum recovery usually opt to have a live-in confinement nanny since they are not to overwork themselves during the first month after childbirth. It is believed that mothers who get ample rest during this period recover better, faster and have fewer health problems in the future.
Where do confinement nannies come from and how to hire one
Most confinement nannies in Singapore are either locals or from Malaysia. Confinement nannies are in high demand here so if you intend to engage one, it’s sensible to start your search early. You can find a confinement nanny via:
- Word-of-mouth: Ask family and friends about their confinement nannies if they had one. Many reputable nannies are hired through word-of-mouth and such nannies tend to be freelancers.
- Mummy chat groups or forums: There are tons of mummy forums, Facebook groups and WhatsApp chat groups in Singapore, where women share their experience with their confinement nannies and their availability. Some mummy forums include com , MummySG.com and BabyForum.sg , to name a few. You can also check out Facebook groups such as Mummies Discussion Group , SG Mummies or Stork’s Nest Singapore .
- Through a confinement nanny agency: There are numerous licensed agencies in Singapore that offer trained and experienced confinement nannies. Some of the biggest agencies are PEM Confinement , Star Confinement and Caregiver Asia .
How much do confinement nannies cost?
Prices of full-time or part-time nannies, whether they are freelancers or from agencies, can be similar and varies according to individual requirements.
Full-time nanny through an agency: Confinement nanny agencies normally offer a package price. According to various online sources, fees for a 28-day confinement period are around $2,800 to $3,900, or even more.
That said, prices are not always shown on their website and you may need to call and check directly with each agency to get a more accurate cost depending on your requirement.
Prices typically increase during festive seasons, such as Chinese New Year. The price also depends on whether it is a single baby, twins or triplets.
Some agencies do not cover work permits and levy fees (if the nanny is not a Singaporean), although they will arrange for the work permit application on behalf of their clients. A few agencies also charge booking fees and replacement fees if the families want to replace the current nanny with another one.
Part-time nanny: Some mummies prefer to have part-time nannies instead of live-in full-timers. Part-time (or day-time) nannies do not spend the night at the client’s home and they usually work at the house from 9 am to 6 pm. They will do the usual tasks of caring for mum and baby, as well as cooking and some household chores.
According to various online sources, prices for 28 days range from $2,800 to $3,500, which are quite similar to full-time nannies, since part-time ones will have to arrange for their own accommodation outside, as well as daily transportation costs.
Freelance nanny: Freelance nannies are generally a bit more expensive but some come highly recommended through word-of-mouth. You can expect to pay between $3,300 and $4,000 for 28 days, depending on the popularity of the nanny, duration, season (higher charges for Chinese New Year period), number of babies (singleton, twins or triplets), how many levels in the house (costs more if the house is more than one level), or whether she will be cooking for an additional person (typically costs an additional $100 per person).
Singaporean nannies tend to cost more, even up to an additional $1,000 for highly experienced and professional ones.
A freelance nanny will usually request a deposit, which is around $200 to $300. However, some nannies may request more.
Other additional costs
Besides the fees to engage a nanny for a month, expect to fork out additional money for other costs, such as:
- Ang baos: Ang baos must be given to nannies on the first and last day of confinement. First day ang baos ranges from $30 to $80, while last day ang baos are around $100 to $500. Some agencies even state a mandatory ang bao amount.
- Herbs: Confinement is about the postpartum recovery of mothers and in Chinese tradition, this will require some traditional herbs, as well as ingredients. Expect to spend around $200 to $300 or more to purchase herbs, as well as cooking ingredients such as sesame oil, black fungus, wolfberries, red dates and so on.
- Kitchen equipment: If you do not already own a slow-cooker or thermos flask, you may be required to purchase these items for the nanny to use. Some nannies are quite specific in the equipment used to cook certain dishes and you may end up having to purchase new pots and other kitchen equipment. Set aside some money for that.
- A single-size mattress and pillow for the nanny to sleep on: $80 to $100 for the mattress and $20 onwards for a pillow.
Employing a freelance nanny from Malaysia
If you are planning to employ a freelance nanny who happens to be in Malaysia and would like her to come to Singapore for work, you are required to apply and pay for her work permit, levy, transportation and other related costs.
Below is a breakdown of estimated costs if you were to arrange for a freelance Malaysian nanny on your own. All these costs is on top of the salaries that you will need to pay for her.
Work permit from Ministry of Manpower: $35
Monthly levy: $60 for newborn child who is Singaporean citizen; $300 per month for newborn child who is non-Singaporean.
Transportation/flight into Singapore and back: From $180 (depending on flight or mode of transport) each way.
Medical insurance for nanny: All new and existing nannies entering Singapore from 1 January 2021 must have medical insurance with a coverage of at least $10,000 for their medical expenses if they develop Covid-19 symptoms or test positive within 14 days of arrival in Singapore. The insurance must be purchased before the nanny arrives in Singapore.
This is on top of the usual medical insurance that must be purchased for the nanny for all other medical expenses, such as unexpected illnesses or injuries sustained in Singapore. Coverage for this must be at least $15,000.
Insurance plans for confinement nannies fall under the category of maid insurance and cost between $190 and $240.
Optional medical check-up: Some families prefer their nannies to undergo a health check-up before employment. Such check-ups may cost around $100 to $200.
Additional costs of hiring a Malaysian nanny during Covid-19
Because there is such a huge demand for nannies and the ones who are currently in Singapore may have already been booked by households, agencies are scrambling to get more nannies to travel from Malaysia.
Due to Covid-19 restrictions and regulations, there will be additional costs of up to $2,000 or more for Covid-19 tests and Stay-Home Notice (SHN) accommodation. Some agencies are willing to either cover the additional costs or share the cost with clients.
But if you are arranging your own freelance nanny without an agency, these are the costs you will have to pay due to Covid-19 regulations:
Covid-19 tests: $200
Stay-Home Notice (SHN) accommodation: Hotel (From $$60++ per night, depending on the hotel type), SHN dedicated facility ($1,500 for 14-day stay). Food and other essentials must be provided to the nanny if she is not staying at an SHN facility.
Prepaid mobile SIM card: Nannies are required to have a Singapore mobile number here during their stay, especially during SHN. This can cost from $8 to $50.
The Ministry of Manpower has other eligibility criteria and requirements for hiring confinement nannies from Malaysia, which can be found here.
Do bear in mind that after the nanny has completed her job in Singapore and returns to Malaysia, she will have to quarantine for 14 days upon arriving there. The cost involved for that may be passed on to the employer too.
Due to Covid-19 travel restrictions, there are fewer Malaysian nannies in Singapore these days and as a result, parents will have to bear the additional costs above when hiring one from Malaysia, whether she is coming through an agency or as a freelancer.
It is best to check with the agencies whether they will cover the Covid-19 additional costs or if you will have to bear the costs yourself before making a decision on hiring a Malaysian nanny.
This article was first published in Dollars and Sense.