Hiring a confinement nanny, plus other associated expenses of confinement, can end up costing several thousand dollars.
After giving birth, many Asian families believe it is vital for the new mother to take special precautions and observe certain age-old practices.
For example, there may be prohibitions against certain household chores or activities, or requirements to consume certain dishes and supplements. Some traditions also encourage the use of herbal remedies, which may be incorporated into body treatments or special baths.
As if giving birth and having to take care of a squealing, helpless newborn wasn’t already enough work, now there are taboos to observe and new habits to adopt!
Which is why confinement nannies are a thing. Usually an experienced, older woman who may also be a mother herself, a confinement nanny assists and guides new mothers in taking care of the newborn, and supporting them in recovering their health and vitality. The right confinement can help the whole household adjust to having a new baby.
Of course, having such specialised help doesn’t come cheap - especially when you factor in all the possible costs associated with post-pregnancy confinement.
What services does a confinement nanny provide?
A confinement nanny is a specialised caregiving role meant to help new mothers recover from the rigours of their recent birth.
Part helper, cook and mentor, a confinement nanny’s main role is to take care of both mother and newborn child, helping them to adjust to this new phase of life.
Confinement nannies are also looked upon as a source of folk wisdom, imparting babycare tips and advice. They are also skilled in preparing traditional dishes and herbal concoctions thought to assist the mother in recovering health.
Here is a (non-exhaustive) list of tasks normally performed by confinement nannies:
- Feeding your newborn, and keeping a record of when and how much
- Changing diapers
- Bathing your baby
- Doing laundry for mother and baby
- Minor cleaning and tidying-up (but don’t expect full housework)
- Preparing herbal baths for the mother
- Cooking dishes and herbal preparations believed to aid the mother’s recovery
- Cooking meals for the family
- Teaching basic babycare to parents
- Giving advice on post-partum issues and childrearing
Not all nannies are live-in
While it is common for confinement nannies to move in with you during their service term, not all nannies do so. Depending on your preferences, you can opt for a part-time or day nanny, who will come to your place to perform their duties during the agreed hours.
Shockingly, a part-time or daytime nanny won’t necessarily charge a lower fee - in fact, you may even need to pay higher prices.
This is because nannies who are not staying at your home will incur costs for transport, food and rent, which they have to cover out of pocket.
Also, it is more tiring for stay-out nannies to travel to and fro after a long day of work, instead of simply being able to retire for the night.
What are the typical costs involved during confinement?
|Confinement nanny from local agency (28 days, live-in, one child)||Fee: $2,500 to $3,500|
Ang baos: $180 to $200
|COVID-19 requirements (if hiring Malaysian nanny)||Seven-day quarantine stay at dedicated facilities: $1,000|
COVID-19 test during quarantine period: $200
|Permit, levy and medical insurance (if hiring Malaysian nanny)||Confinement nanny permit: $35 per application|
Levy: - $60 per month (if baby is a Singapore citizen)
- $300 per month (if baby is not a Singapore citizen)
Insurance: Approximately $250
|Mattress and bedding for nanny||$150|
|Confinement supplements and herbal products||$300 to $500|
|Kitchen equipment (slow cooker, double-boiler, etc)||$200|
|Cooking for additional family members||$100 per additional member|
|Total (local agency)||$3,430 to $4,650|
|Total (Malaysian nanny)||+ $1,545 to $1,785|
Nanny fees - From $2,500 onwards
Based on various online sources, hiring a confinement nanny for 28 days for one newborn will cost you between $2,500 to $3,500. Do note this is simply an approximate figure (nanny agencies are notoriously secretive about their price lists) and you may get a higher or lower price, depending on your actual needs.
For instance, the charges will go up if you have twins or triplets. Also, during festive periods such as the Lunar New Year, confinement nannies will become a lot more expensive, due to a lack of supply. You should be prepared to raise your rates if you happen to need one then.
Ang baos - From $180 onwards
Besides the service fee, it is customary to provide an additional token to your nanny. This usually takes the form of ang baos, which are given at the start and the end of the service period.
There’s no hard and fast rule when it comes to how much you need to give, but traditionally “lucky” sums are appreciated, like $88 or $188.
Additional costs for Malaysian nannies - From $1,500
If the nanny you are hiring is coming from Malaysia, you’ll need to foot additional costs of around $1,500 or more.
Firstly, you’ll need to apply for a permit for your nanny ($35 per application), pay a monthly levy ($60 if the child is a Singapore citizen, $300 if it’s a foreigner), and purchase a foreign domestic worker insurance plan for her (approximately $250).
Then, your nanny will have to serve a seven-day Stay Home Notice (SHN) at a dedicated facility (she cannot serve the SHN at your home because your household members do not share her travel history) which will likely cost $1,000 (prorated from $2,000 for a 14-day stay), and take a COVID-19 test ($200).
Mattress and bedding for nanny - From $150
You’ll need to provide suitable lodgings for your live-in confinement nanny, which, unless you have a spare guest room handy, will mean buying at least a mattress, pillows and bedding for her to sleep in.
It pays not to be too stingy here - after all, a well-rested nanny is a happier one, and would be more accommodating and helpful.
Confinement supplements and herbal products
Depending on your heritage, your nanny may recommend certain traditional dishes or remedies that are believed to be beneficial (sometimes even compulsory) for women who’ve recently given birth.
To prepare these dishes, you may need to purchase certain ingredients, which can range from everyday sundries to medicinal herbs and exotic supplements.
Depending on the frequency at which they are consumed, confinement dishes and curatives can cost a few hundred dollars.
Kitchen equipment - From $200
In order to cook certain dishes traditionally consumed during confinement, your nanny may ask for certain types of cooking equipment.
You may find yourself having to buy new pots and pans, as well as slow cookers, double boilers and the like. Of course, if you already have them, or other kitchenware that can act as stand-ins, you won’t have to spend this sum.
Cooking for additional family members - From $100 per pax
Your confinement nanny is hired primarily to take care of the mother and baby, so it is not uncommon for some nannies to charge an extra fee to cook for the rest of the family too.
This is not completely unreasonable, considering that new mothers often have different dietary needs, and some confinement dishes may not be suitable for the rest of the family.
How much does confinement cost in Singapore?
Putting all the above costs together, a household undergoing confinement after pregnancy can expect to pay between $3,500 to $4,600.
A significant portion of this cost goes towards hiring a confinement nanny from a local agency to take care of the mother and one newborn, typically for 28 days or four weeks.
The remainder goes towards ingredients, supplements and herbs, bedding, equipment and other miscellaneous charges - some of which you may be able to avoid.
If you’re hiring a nanny from Malaysia, you will need to factor in an additional $1,500 or so to pay for levy fees, COVID-19 quarantine and tests, insurance and other charges required by law.
Should you choose a freelance nanny or go with an agency?
|May cost more, depending on reputation||May be able to offer lower prices|
|May require additional costs if she is Malaysian||May absorb part or all of additional costs for Malaysian nannies|
|No replacement if not a good fit||May offer replacement nanny in case of disagreements|
|May not be available on short notice||Higher availability due to more candidates|
Freelancers may cost you more
It may come as a surprise but freelance nannies may not necessarily charge you less than their agency counterparts. In fact, successful freelance nannies would have built a glowing track record, which allows them to charge a higher rate.
Also, if the freelance nanny you are hiring is from Malaysia, you would need to put up around $1,500 in additional costs (see above) to cover the costs of COVID-19 tests and quarantine, levy, insurance and permit application.
Meanwhile, an agency may be willing to cover part or all of these additional costs if you wish to book a nanny from Malaysia through them.
Agencies also come with the option to make the payment through credit card. With that option, you can regain some cost through cashback, or perhaps accumulate more miles for the day when borders are fully reopened. Till that day happens, have a look at some of the best credit cards that can help you gather those rewards.
Agencies can offer replacements
Because agencies usually have a number of different nannies on hand, they are more capable of offering replacements if you cannot get along with your nanny.
If you hire an individual freelance nanny, you’ll have to stick with her throughout the contract period - warts and all. Otherwise, you may risk having to go without a replacement if you terminate the contract early.
Don’t underestimate the possibility of disagreements and flare-ups. As a new mother, you’re still recovering from the strains of childbirth, and your hormone levels are readjusting back to normal. Concurrently, you’re dealing with a newborn baby and a stranger in your home, who may insist on certain practices (such as observing confinement taboos) you might not be comfortable with.
Agencies may offer more choice
Naturally, you want the best nanny you can find during your confinement period.
If, for you, this nanny happens to be your old neighbour auntie who lived on the sixth floor, you’d better pray that the stars are aligned just so, such that she is available to help you when your confinement period comes (not so easy, considering how newborns aren’t exactly the most punctual - give them a break, they haven’t yet learnt to tell time).
On the other hand, if you book a nanny through an agency, you may have a better chance of securing a suitable nanny right when you need one, simply because an agency usually has more than one nanny available.
However, with borders remaining closed on account of COVID-19, confinement nannies are in high demand these days. So whether you already have a nanny in mind, or want to hire through an agency, it would be a good idea to start your search early.
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