Your weight, your age, your salary. All things we don’t talk about, right?! Conversations about money can get awkward, but we’re not ones to shy away from tough topics. So here we go. Many of you have asked, “how much should I pay a babysitter?” It's time we tackle that topic!
Babysitters are an essential part of any family’s budget. Taking some meaningful time away from the kids has been SO key to the success of our relationship. It makes us better spouses, better parents, and better business people.
But here’s the hard truth: Babysitters don’t come cheap, and figuring out how much to pay a babysitter isn’t always cut and dry. There are so many things to consider! Experience-level, job responsibilities, number of kids, hours – you name it! Then there’s the question of hiring a babysitter versus a nanny. What’s the difference? Are there other budget-friendly babysitting options that make sense?
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Let’s tackle these questions together! We're going to share everything you ever wanted to know about how much to pay a babysitter. Plus, we've got an older video to share (we only had 3 kids – crazy now that we've got 8, right?) walking you through the thought process.
Let's go over how much to pay a babysitter so you didn't miss anything!
NANNY VS BABYSITTER: WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE?
Before we get into exactly how much you should pay your babysitter or nanny, let’s break down the difference. Here’s how we define the two.
A babysitter – A babysitter is typically a young teenager between the ages of 12 and 15, who probably have limited experience. Their hours are usually less frequent.
A nanny – A nanny, on the other hand, tends to be older and more experienced. They may be a senior in high school, a college student, or a newlywed. Most often, nannying is a career and primary source of income. Nannies usually work during set hours and have a predictable work schedule.
QUESTIONS TO ASK AS YOU DECIDE HOW MUCH TO PAY A BABYSITTER
Since nannies almost always have more on-the-job experience than babysitters, it’s only logical to pay them more. But here are a few other questions to ask as you’re thinking about much to pay your nanny or babysitter:
- How many years of experience do they have?
- How many kids will they be watching?
- How old are the kids they’ll be watching?
- Are they first aid/CPR certified?
- Will they be following your lead or planning their own activities for the kids?
- Will you be home while they’re there?
- Will the kids be sleeping while they’re there?
- Will they drive themselves to work?
- Will they do chores while the kids are sleeping?
These are all important things to consider, as the level of effort the caretaker will be expected to put toward the job should absolutely play a key role in determining the pay rate!
With those key questions out of the way, let’s get to the part you’ve all been waiting for! The ever-awkward salary conversation. Drumroll, please….
HOW MUCH DO YOU PAY A BABYSITTER?
Let’s start with a disclaimer: determining what to pay your babysitter is a personal decision. What works well for one family may not work for another. Pay rates in Utah will be much different from the going rates in New York or California. However, here’s what we’ve found works well! Feel free to take this guidance and modify it based on your family.
Our general rule of thumb for babysitters (remember, these are the younger, less-experienced caregivers) is $2 per hour per kid.
For a younger babysitter, let’s say a 12 or 13-year old; we may pay slightly less. For a babysitter who’s just coming over during naptime or after bedtime, we may also lower that rate a bit.
All that being said, we believe in generous tipping and rewarding a job well done. If we see a babysitter going the extra mile to bring toys and games to play with the kids, or taking the initiative to get their own ride to work, we’ll likely round up their pay and tip a few bucks.
For a nanny, our expectations are a bit higher, so the pay reflects that. The minimum hourly rate we’d suggest for a nanny is around $12 per hour. Because they have much more experience and will likely do household chores during the kids’ quiet time, it’s only fair to reflect that in their paycheck. It’s also important to remember that watching your children may be their main source of income.
As you’re deciding what to pay your babysitter or nanny, do a bit of research and determine the going rate in your area. Ask around! Find out how much your friends pay their babysitters and take a peek at job sites like Indeed, Sittercity, or Care.com to see what other families are offering.
BUDGETING FOR BABYSITTING
You may be wondering, how can I afford to pay for sitters? What if this just isn’t in our family budget? I’d argue that budgeting for babysitting is just a non-negotiable. For us, it’s something we make work. Here are a few pointers:
- Make babysitting a line item in your family’s weekly and monthly budget. If you’ve been following our blog for a while, you know we’re proponents of the 70-20-10 rule. If you’re new to the blog, here’s the gist. You should plan to use 70% of your monthly income on expenses, put 20% towards savings or paying down debt, and use the remaining 10% for tithing, investments, or a college fund. As you’re factoring in all the expenses that fall under the 70% bucket, make sure to account for babysitting.
- Consider starting a babysitting exchange program with your friends. Let’s say you have three other families you’re close with. Set up an arrangement where you take turns watching each other’s kids. Maybe you and your husband commit to taking Bob and Sally’s kids two Wednesday evenings a month, and, in exchange, they watch your kiddos one Monday evening a month and one Saturday afternoon each month. With a little creativity, you can easily secure a few free hours of babysitting!
- Divide and conquer! This is a core principle we teach. It’s so critical to figure out which spouse will take responsibility for tracking the budget and covering expenses related to babysitting. The simple act of defining ownership makes planning and staying on track so much easier!
OTHER AFFORDABLE CHILDCARE OPTIONS
Wondering about options beyond the traditional nanny vs. babysitter? Depending on your need and budget, here are a few ideas:
- Mother’s Helpers – For moms who work from home, mother’s helpers can be a great way to go! We’ve used mother’s helpers for years. Typically, a mother’s helper is a young teen or pre-teen looking to gain experience so they can pick up babysitting jobs in the future. We’ll often have a mother’s helper come play with our older kids for a few hours in the afternoon. This allows us to focus on our younger kids and household chores or work. And because we’re home and they’re less experienced, we can pay much less. (Think $2-$4 per hour!)
- Au Pair – If you have the extra space in your home, an au pair may be an option. Au pairs are live-in caretakers who typically work for a modest monthly stipend and free room and board. If you have younger children who require lots of extra care and you can swing the extra mouth to feed, this option could be a winner!
- Mother’s Morning Out – Many local churches, gyms, and community centers offer a weekly or monthly “Mother’s Morning Out” for a modest fee. These services allow you to drop your kids off to play with other children for a few hours while you take care of errands or work. The fees are typically much lower than what you’d pay at a traditional daycare or preschool.
Hopefully, this helps your family as you plan, budget, and pay for babysitting. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach for determining how much to pay a babysitter, but these tips should put you on the right path.
If you’re looking for more guidance, here are some additional resources worth checking out!
- Learn how and why you should use one of your kids-free date nights to talk about finances.
- Start thinking ahead! Use these tools to map out your next year of expenses (babysitting included).
- Pick up a side hustle to help cover your babysitting budget!
Have a blast and enjoy date night!
In Australia, to get a babysitter we would be looking at minimum $10 an hour. To compare, in 2006 when I had not long finished school myself (I’m pretty sure we are the same age) I was earning $21 an hour here. Because the cost of living is higher and pay rates are much higher generally it makes it very expensive to go out. Thankfully we have family around that can help out occasionally.
Im at stay at home mom so I’d not pay for a sitter. We rarely get to go out but if we usually one of the grandmas babysit or his big sister. So grandmas free, sissy is fine with a friend and food. When I babysit my friends so its 20 dollars a day, but she brings him and picks him up, and packs his food and supplies, and I dont have to leave my house. And I can pick when I want him because I only get him when we need extra money. Its not so bad if I take him for several days or all week. Its 2.85 and hour for one child.
I love that you are addressing this. And thank you for being up the difference of a babysitter and a nanny. I have been babysitting since I was 8 (scary I know! But for whatever reason they trusted me by myself with newborn babies) I babysat all the way until junior year of high school when I started nannying. I always got paid at least $5 an hour but up to $12 which I will admit was usually way more than the work I was doing. However, now I am a professional nanny. I have over 13 years of experience with children and 4 years being a personal assistant/household manager. Over a year ago when I was looking for a job people were offended when I told them I couldn’t afford to work for them. I said it in the nicest of ways but my husband is in school full time and I pay all the bills. %90 of the families offered less than $10 50% less than $5!! And they still expected cleaning, laundry, carpooling, shopping, and cooking. I know not everyone can afford it but it is insulting as a nanny with that much experience to be offered $3-$7 an hour and be expected to do all the household chores while watching 4+ kids all day. I do think it’s important to pay based on experience and the responsibilities required. I do get paid over $20 an hour now, but I work for that. They have given me raises because they value my work and want me to stay, and that makes me fee appreciated. I still will babysit on the side for families I used to work for for a lot less and I don’t make them pay me more because I don’t do as much work and I know money is tighter. Just be fair 🙂 thanks!
HI NEED BABYSITTING
LOVE this video and I could not agree with you more that the price of baby sitting has gotten quite out of hand as of late! We are also expecting our 4th and our kids are all 5 and under and right now, we pay between $10-12 per hour for our sitter. We live in New England and for this area, that’s actually on the lower side for a sitter (but the most we can afford/are willing to pay). Thanks for sharing your thoughts and tips. I wish this topic weren’t so taboo!
so now being a mother of a babysitting daughter I have a strong opinion on this. My daughter took the class, I spent one year “teaching” her how. We called people up and offered to watch their kids for free, and this is when I taught her. I taught her that 1. Children 2. CLEAN UP no mother wants to come home to disaster. With that said I am also teaching my children how to work, how to be paid and it kills me when she goes babysitting at 630. Puts the kids to bed at 730-8 depending on parent and she is earning more than Minium wage. I beg those she sits for to help me in teaching her how to work. Sitting on a couch for 4 more hours is not hard, and let’s be honest most don’t clean. I believe it is the parents of children needing to be sat that have caused this feeling that a girl won’t do it unless you pay her a lot. My daughter and her friends have no idea how much they made. Now their are other times that yes, she should get more, all day, kids are up the entire time, you know you have a difficult child. My daughter when asked says she charges 2.00 for first 1.00 after that and she caps at 5.00 an hour unless you have 7 children. So for some of us moms who children are the babysitter I know I don’t speak alone when we say, please don’t over pay them. Please don’t teach her that sitting on her bottom eating your food and watching tv is worth more than Minium wage, or even close to it. Social media is so rough for young children moms. U see things and worry so much. You might go through babysitters, but you will find the one, who loves it. Who will take what you can give knowing that her parents once were you. They taught her that they scraped all their pennies together. So let’s help each other. I’ll teach my daughter how to take care of your little ones, if you teach her that 5.00 an hour sitting on her bottom is a gold mine, and that by calling her back tells her she is great at her job.
I totally agree with you Katie! I have 4 young kids and we don’t go out on dates much, but when we do, I pay $2/hr per child. And take it or leave it, I think that is fair for the 3 hours we’re gone especially when no bedtime or dinnertime is involved. I babysat a lot myself as a teen, and any money was good money when you’re young. And I worked hard for every dollar I made babysitting. Good for you for teaching your daughter the value of hard work.
This was so long ago now! But I completely agree 😊
I am now the mom of a babysitter. My daughter took the class, I spent a year teaching her to babysit by calling different families with different age children to see if we could watch them for free and I would go with her. I have had the wonderful to awful. Now in this stage I have a strong opinion about this. I believe that social media makes being a mom of young children hard. I find from friends who need sitters and others when we talk, that it is the families who feel like the girl won’t come back if you pay less than so and do. I will speak for my daughter and some others I asked when people kept asking my daughter what she charged. THEY DONT KNIW WHAT YOU PAY. My daughter has no idea, she takes your money and puts it in her pocket. We are teaching our kids the value of work and money so I ask you to please help us teach her. Babysitting for her is 1. Child 2. Clean up. When she goes and the kids are in bed by 8 and she than sits there until midnight and she is paid more than minimum wage, it is not teaching her the right message. I do believe circumstance matters, but honestly she is normally with the kids for an hour or two tops. She set it at 2.00 an hour first child 1.00 each after cap at 5.00. She knows from us talking and stuff that it is hard for families to go out. So let’s help each other, I’ll teach her to be an awesome babysitter which the fact she is gone doing it all the time, with her awesome games and treats for kids, and you will help teach the importance of work, and a babysitter who is watching tv for the most part should not make minimum wage.
I have to admit that I don’t understand why anyone gets upset about this issue. It’s just one of those tough things you have to negotiate in life. I start by asking a sitter what their hourly rate is. If they have an answer, I just go with that number multiplied by the number of hours we were gone. If they have a flat rate (like our regular sitter does), I plan to pay it and stay out as late/as long as we want to. I leave a pizza and snacks and drinks, let my oldest daughter pick out a red box or rent a movie for them to watch, and leave a detailed note. I tell my oldest what I expect in terms of the house looking nice when we come home – toys picked up, dishes washed, etc – and enlist the sitter’s help in making sure my daughter gets her chores done (the youngest is a toddler).
I also have my phone available all the time. I’ve just never had a problem paying, keeping or working out the details with a sitter. And we have typical crazy kids and three big dogs that all aim to be high maintenance, all the time.
It’s life, people. Work it out, enjoy the time away, and treat everyone with respect. As a final note – if you feel like a sitter rips you off in any way – charges too much, leaves the house a wreck, doesn’t put the kids to bed on time – handle it gracefully. Pay them, thank them, but don’t call them again. There are plenty of fish in the sea.
As an adult I think it’s best for me to bring up the topic of pay right away with the babysitter. It’s hard for a young babysitter to bring this up since there is an obvious power differential. I think it’s best to ask the babysitter what they charge. It gives them experience negotiating or asserting themselves and it gives you a chance to discuss the price. You can lead the conversation with “generally I pay about $6/hour, is that around what you charge?”and see what she says. If she charges more then I think it’s appropriate to say “okay, let me talk it over with my husband and I’ll call you if we’re able to do that.” If you can’t, then you don’t need to call her back. I would also bring this up before you tell her the date you would like her to babysit so she doesn’t feel backed into a corner. I get uncomfortable when people talk about it as an employee/employer relationship where you need to set expectations because it’s so much more personal when they’re caring for your children when you aren’t there. When I was babysitting, I was insulted when parents told me to do the dishes because I was so conscientious! I would always clean up! I think it’s unreasonable to request that the babysitter do things aside from clean up the dishes from the meals the kids ate while they were there and make sure the kids put the toys away unless they’re a nanny and you talk about them being the regular nanny from the beginning. Even though this is not a career and they aren’t paying taxes on the money they’re earning, starting within a dollar of minimum wage is what I think is reasonable. So in Utah, that would be around $6 for one child and about a dollar more per child. Then more if they drive themselves, have more experience etc. I dislike the argument that because they’re young and can’t have another job, paying them less is reasonable. Their time is valuable (especially since my babysitter is a good student and has a lot of activities and families to babysit for). I guess I want to demonstrate that I understand the value of her time and that this is (obviously) really important to me. I suppose I am one of those people who thinks that if you underpay your babysitter you are undervaluing the care of your children. Not that you don’t love them, but that where you spend your money demonstrates what your priorities are. My kids develop a relationship with the babysitter and she kind of becomes a part of the family. That’s just my opinion. I applaud you for being honest and bringing this topic up! And if you have plenty of happy babysitters to choose from, obviously you’re doing a lot of things right!
I LOOOOOOOVVVVEEEE This comment!! I should’ve mentioned that, YES! Talking about pay upfront is genius! Thanks for sharing 🙂
In L.A., the going rate is $15/hour. But my brother and friends babysit for us for free, so we’ve never hired a sitter. We do plan to do a “date night swap” with friends when our daughter gets a little older. We’ll take their kid one month, they take ours the next. Totally free. 🙂
So lucky to have family around!!! Use that to it’s fullest!!! 🙂
I think we should offer something to family members. Their time is valuable too and not offering to pay devalues them and their precious time. We know they love your kids and want to see them, so sometimes this is a treat for them and they genuinely do not need payment, but at least ask. It’s the respectful thing to do.
The fact that you would leave a 12 year old with 4 young children is beyond alarming.
What happens if a child gets severely hurt? What if your child starts running a fever? What if they’re choking?
A 12 year old cannot drive your children in an emergency. They cannot give proper medicine or probably even use a thermometer. They cannot perform CPR. A 12 year old should never be given the responsibility of watching 4 young children.
God forbid something terrible ever happened so you can save a few bucks.
Great point! In our area of the country having a 12 year old babysitter is actually very common. But that’s exactly why I usually make sure the kids are already asleep (or in bed) before coming over, we always have a neighbor on-hand in case of an emergency, and we never go too far or stay out too long.
I disagree. I started at 11, but watched kids randomly since 8. I am 17 and work as a part-time 30 hours a week nanny for a family. I clean up there house, make meals, and take the kids to their activities. I would never feel prepared to do that if I wasn’t given a chance as a young teen. By the time I was 13 I was a part time sitter and taught a neighborhood preschool. I also watched three kids regularly when I was 11/12. I also full time watched my nephew since he was a newborn when I was 12, while his mom and mine when pack to finish there degrees( my mom was In the military).There were emergencies, but never anything serious. I never had a formal class, but at that age I knew what to do if there was an emergency, I knew how to comfort kids, and I knew that if it was serious to call 911 or my mom. I always watched the kids well and the kids never had major accidents. I never have had a family dislike me. I got two offers to stay behind when my family moved to be a live in nanny when I had just turned 14. I think we don’t give young kids credit anymore. We assume they are dumb and don’t know how to handle life.
I agree with you I have a 12-year-old who is about to start a babysitting business and I fully support her 100%. I’m even about to pay for her to get certified through i’m even about to pay for her to get certified through Red Cross Where she’s got a learn the safety in and out Where she’s got a learn the safety in and out of babysitting starting a babysitting Business as well as be trained im cpr and aed There are plenty of kids entrepreneurs who is business is treated just like that in babysitting businesses aren’t any different just because they’re young
A 12 year old is certainly old enough to use a thermometer. All you do is put it in the ear usually. And with cell phones these days you can know instantly if there has been an accident and respond right away. I think in today’s society we expect too little of our youth. You can be quite mature and responsible at 12. I personally know some people who are quite immature well over the age of twelve too. Not all 12 yr olds are created equal. Of course find someone you trust and can handle things. I babysat lots at 12 and now I have 6 kids and use girls this age too.
I think it’s great when you have family around to help sometimes, but I think a lot of family members get abused by this. I think it’s unfair to ask grandma to watch your kids all the time because you know she will and won’t charge. Same with siblings, cousins, etc. if you would pay a sitter for the same job I think it’s fair to offer to pay family too. Especially if you use them frequently. Also I feel like there is more and more people who seem paranoid to leave their kids with sitters. I’m not sure what the fear is all about. But that is a tangent for another time I guess.
I 100% agree with this all. 3 other moms and I do what your friends do as a couple. Every Monday one of us takes all the kids from 9-1 while the others Moms run errands, cleans, or even just rest, but we all seem to run around like crazy women since we are kid free! So 3 Mondays a month we have 4 hours to do whatever we need totally free. Then 1 Monday a month its our turn to do the babysitting. There are 7 kids 6 and under and it’s totally worth it!! The kids have a blast together and totally look forward to play date Monday!
Love this, thanks for sharing! XOXO
This post deserves a slow hand clap. You totally summed up my thoughts on babysitting. I have four kids, have never offered less than $10 hour, never required any cooking, heavy cleaning, nor chauffeuring my kids to or from anywhere. Yet, I have problem finding decent babysitters. It’s totally out of control and too many girls are expecting primo pay to simply put the kids to bed and house sit while watching tv and texting on the phone. Thank you for telling it like it is.
My 18 yo daughter has been babysitting for several years (as well as growing up with 4 younger siblings and working in several daycare situations ), and STILL has a tough time with the “what do you charge” question. It is AWESOME when a potential “client” will be up front about how much they are willing to pay or can afford. She actually gets paid the most from a family that told her right from the beginning how much they pay – at least $2 an hour more than she was currently charging! There are families she works for at a lower price-per-hour, and is very happy to because she loves the children/family.
12 years old is certainly old enough to babysit. I don’t mean to judge you, but certainly if you’ve raised a responsible 12 year old you would know how much they can do (I haven’t, but I was one). I knew how to do CPR and re-certified every year from age 10 on. I also knew basic first aid from burns to cuts etc. and actually used my skills on a choking baby and other injuries. I know that I wasn’t alone, because there were several 12 year olds in my church group who also took it seriously. And we made great money. Much more than we thought we deserved. I respect what you think about 12 being too young, but I have a different experience, and think htere is much you can teach a 12 yr. old to do.
This is offensive. As someone who has worked as an Au Pair and a nanny for nearly five years, plus years of baby sitting, working in a children’s charity and have a degree in psychology; I earn $23 an hour on a part time basis while I continue to study. $10 an hour for a qualified experience nanny?! For four children?! Whattt?! I am currently still a nanny for a beautiful family and I perform many duties which are considered outside of ‘childcare’ and would be less than impressed if someone thought that $10/hr was an honourable offer. I believe that when I was about 13 years old I would babysit my neighbours children for $8-10/hr. I live and work in Australia and have also worked in the U.S and I cannot believe the minimum wage standards in the U.S. Regardless of cost of living prices, the U.S dollar and AUD are comparable so the wages you have suggested would make affording everyday expenses very difficult indeed.
Yes!! If someone offered me $2/hr I would laugh in their face. $2/hr is offensive, it’s not even minimum wage.
I can’t imagine watching FOUR kids for 5 hours and coming away with a $10 bill. WOWOW.
No, it would be more if they had all 4 kids. Realistically if it was someone capable of watching all 4 of my kids (including the baby) then it would be more $12/hr. But if they were asleep it would be at least $6-8/hr depending on their age. Thanks for stopping by and reading!
When our oldest, he’s 14, babysits for us we give him $5 an hour. We only leave the other two with him if the youngest, 4 years old, is asleep for the night. He rarely wants to babysit though. We are looking for a regular babysitter now. Our previous regular babysitter graduated college last May and moved away. She started working for us the summer before her Freshman year of college, we paid her $10/hr for the 2 children we had at the time. Over the next 3 years we gave her a raises until she was up to $20/hr for the 3 children. I know that many people aren’t willing to pay this much for babysitting. However, for us it was worth it to have a high quality babysitter.
It must depend on where you live. I live in Boston and have been a nanny since 2006. You would never find a babysitter here for that kind of money. Most nannies & babysitters charge a minimum of $15/hr and that’s just for one kid.
I’m a fourteen year old babysitter. And during the summer, I work for about 10-11 hours a day watching a five and 2 year old. I have three years of experience, have taken the Red Cross course, know how to perform CPR and the Heimlich. I work in my churches nursery, and have a baby nephew and a younger brother I watch. I’m not sure what my employer is paying considering that I don’t get paid until tomorrow, but I really don’t want to bring it up. But I feel as if I need to. I don’t want to seem pushy, or greedy, or like I’m taking advantage of her. I do those things like you said a nanny does, cook 3 meals, take them to parks, play all day, and do chores. How much do you think is appropriate? According to the care.com calculator, it says about $13.25. But I’m afraid that’s too much to ask for. Please respond. I’m quite interested in this topic. 🙂
I live in New Zealand and the legal age to babysit here is 14 years old; which I have been doing now for 7 years. I babysit, nanny and have worked in a day care centre. I have my full drivers licence and a children’s first aid certificate/CPR cert. For babysitting, I charge $18 an hour until midnight to which is then becomes $20p/h. Anything more than 6 hours I consider ‘Nanning’ as there would be cooking involved and usually, I would need to take the kids out so they don’t start trying to kill each other!! And with that I charge $25 per hour. Parent’s don’t expect me to clean for them, or cook a fabulous dinner but I always make sure the house is in a better condition to which they left it in; whether that is folding the washing, whipping the vacuum around, tidying the dishwasher.
Baby sitting is a tough one! But I learned a lot from this!
Yes it is especially when you don’t know how much to pay them Im having a bit of a problem with the new baby sister her mom doesn’t agree on me paying her daughter $2/hour she wants me to pay her $150 like I payed the last babysitter but what she doesn’t understand is that the last baby sitter is an adult n she’s comparing an adult to a 12 year old she has less experience then an adult that is a mom n was taking care of my baby n her baby at the same time….can someone please let me know if I’m right or wrong
Ooof. As a nanny and babysitter this rate is sooo low. I would never take this job. Babysitting is still hard work. So is nannying. I get paid 15$ for babysitting and 25-30$ an hour for nannying. When I was younger, I would have never gone back to a family that paid that low of rates.