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How Much Should You Pay a Babysitter?

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babysitterIf you have kids, one of the questions that parents inevitably have to face is this one: How much should I pay the babysitter? If you want to go out and have some fun without the little one(s), and they aren’t old enough to watch after each other, you’ll have to hire someone you trust to watch them while you’re out painting the town red.

The answer to that question, like the answer to so many like it, is that it depends. What you pay depends on a number of factors. You want to be fair to the sitter, but you also don’t want to overpay for the service.

Factors Involved in Paying a Babysitter

As you consider how much to pay the babysitter, here are some things to consider:

  • How old is the babysitter?: A teenage girl in your neighborhood isn’t likely to cost as much as a college student with more experience. Consider the sitter’s age when deciding what to pay.
  • What do expect the sitter to do?: Another consideration is what you expect the sitter to do. Are you actually looking for a nanny that can prepare simple meals, do light housecleaning, and take care of other items? Will the babysitter need to drive the children to activities, or pick them up from school? If so, what you pay will increase with the amount of work expect.
  • Will the children be awake?: Even if you don’t expect the babysitter to take care of other household tasks, alert children are tougher than sleeping children. If your children will be awake, and expect to be entertained, that’s more work for the sitter. If the children will be in bed, and all the sitter has to do is be around in case of emergency, watching TV or doing homework, you can usually pay a little bit less.
  • How many children are there?: The more children there are, the more you can expect to pay. You might pay $5 an hour, plus an extra $2 for each child beyond two children in a neighborhood like mine. So, if you have four children, the cost might be $9 an hour.
  • Location: Where you live matters. Where I live currently, childcare is quite cheap, whether you hire a babysitter or take your child to a daycare. However, when I lived in New York, childcare cost more than twice as much. Take into consideration the “going rate” in your neighborhood. You can ask other parents what they pay, or ask if the babysitter has a set rate.
  • Special training and experience: Some babysitters choose to become certified in First Aid and/or CPR. These sitters might charge a little more, since they have specific training that can help your child.

Don’t forget to leave money for food you have the sitter order, and offer money for gas or a cab ride if you don’t pick your sitter up. Another consideration, of course, is how often you need the services. If you have someone babysit your children two or three days (or more) each week, it make more sense to negotiate an equitable weekly rate. Also, consider that you might provide a raise as your babysitter ages and has more experience, and becomes better acquainted with your children. A good babysitter can become someone you trust and rely on, and you want to make sure that he or she is adequately compensated for the work done in your home.

(Photo: Ed Yourdon)

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47 Responses to “How Much Should You Pay a Babysitter?”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Miranda,

    You are correct about Location being a big factor in determining pay rates. I found a good resource for determining average babysitter pay rates, broken out per different locations in the USA.

    Just go here: ReliableSitters.org click on ‘Babysitting Rates’ on the right hand side. Then look for the location nearest you.

    Hope that helps.


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