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What to Pay Your Babysitter

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Genevieve Thiers: It's one of the greatest mysteries of child care: What should you pay your babysitter?

A friend of mine has two sitters and she pays them each differently. When she asked the first sitter what she charged, the sitter quoted $10/hour. "OK," my friend thought, "sounds reasonable." So when she asked her other sitter what she charged, she expected a number in that range. However, she didn't get a number at all! The sitter just said, "Oh, whatever you think."

woman handing money to babysitter

"I think I had a mini panic attack," laughed my friend.

Completely caught off guard, she ended up paying that sitter $15/hour, since her child was sick and she felt guilty. That has now become the sitter's rate, even though the $10/hour sitter is more experienced and a better fit for the family.

"I always wonder what I would have said if I actually had an idea of the going rate for babysitters ..." my friend admits. "Child care rates have always been a mystery."

Let's settle this mystery once and for all.


NATIONAL RATE AVERAGES

Before we examine the factors that can affect a babysitter's rate, we need a base to start from. Here are the national averages. (Remember to think of these as loose benchmarks rather than steadfast rules; there are always exceptions.)

  • College sitters: $12/hour
  • High school sitters: $10/hour
  • Grade school sitters: $8/hour


FACTORS AFFECTING RATE

Different factors can make those average rates shoot up or dwindle down. There's no "right" rate to pay a babysitter, as long as you're both comfortable with the decided-upon fee, but here are a few things to consider when trying to reach that magic number.

  • Location. The closer you are to a metro area, the more you'll have to stick to the $10-12 national average, though parents in the 'burbs may be able to get away with $1-2/hour less than those in the city.
  • Babysitter's age/experience. It's no shock that a sitter's age ties directly into experience ... and the more experience she has, the more valuable she is to your family. Even more so if she has training and skills such as CPR or first aid. More experienced sitters are simply paid higher rates.
  • Number of children and ages. Three or more children close in age can translate into a challenge for any sitter, so entice her with a slightly higher rate. There's no need to pay double the hourly rate for two kids, but an extra $2 or $3 per hour makes a big difference.
  • Job responsibilities. Many, many years ago when I was a sitter, a family advanced me a higher rate because they had just installed a trampoline in the backyard. I thought I made out big, but after four hours of vaulting kids, broken pots, and an unusual incident with a bird feeder, I felt like I had earned every single penny. Lesson learned: Job responsibilities play a big part in determining rates.
  • Housekeeping extras. Cleaning up after herself and the children is included in the base rate, but if you would like your sitter to do housekeeping beyond that -- such as folding the laundry, vacuuming the family room, making all the beds in the house, etc. -- the rate should increase by $2-5/hour. Keep in mind that the more time the sitter spends caring for your home, the less time she can spend caring for your child. If you have a decent amount of housekeeping chores, consider hiring a separate housekeeper so your sitter can remain focused on the children.
  • Transportation extras. Most sitters don't mind a long commute if the job is long enough to offset the cost of gas. If it's not, consider factoring in a gas rate at the IRS standard mileage rate of 55 cents per mile, assuming you've found the perfect sitter who just happens to live a little farther away.

CONFIRM YOUR RATES ...

Once you have an idea of what you'd like to pay a babysitter, there are a few quick ways you can confirm your rate to make sure it falls within a reasonable range.

  • Talk to friends. Ask your friends, neighbors, or colleagues what they are paying for their babysitters to help frame your own offer and keep it competitive. Just remember to ask local friends to make sure you get a rate that's fair in your area.
  • Ask the babysitter herself. Many sitters are able to state a $5 range, but you can't always expect one to give a firm quote, as my friend discovered. That's why you'll want to do the research so you're never caught off guard.
  • Look online. Sittercity.com has a Babysitter Rate Calculator, where you enter a few quick factors about your family and sitter, and it pulls from a database of jobs to give you an average rate in your local area.

Find hundreds -- even thousands -- of local babysitters and nannies on Sittercity.com


next: Elizabeth Edwards Tells All
19 comments so far | Post a comment now
Sarah May 1, 2009, 12:32 PM

Another tip: most babysitters often are not sure of what to charge.

The lowest I “charge” anyone (the families in my neighborhood who I have been babysitting for years and who I have an amazing relationship with) is $10 an hour. Outside of those families I normally charge $12 an hour unless I am driving more then half an hour away, going to be using my car for transportation or if Special Needs are involved. The highest I am paid is $15 an hour by my regular employers who have a child with CP.

Sometimes my $10 an hour jobs are impossible (there is such thing as the kids knowing you too well) and sometimes my job with my regular $15 an hour employers is (on the good days) mind-numbingly easy. Sometimes I wish I could tell the parent how much I’m charging them (between the $10 an hour and $15 an hour scale) when they get home based on how the job went.

If you think your babysitter did an amazing job give them a tip (I am almost never ACTUALLY paid $10 an hour). If they are a regular sitter who is ALWAYS doing an amazing job give them a bonus around the holidays.

Also: if you have had a sitter for awhile ASK THEM is they have changed their rate. There are people I have been sitting since I charged $10 an hour when I was in high school who I would normally charge at least $12 an hour or more now but feel weird asking for that.

makeadiff21.com May 1, 2009, 3:08 PM

Wow. Those rates seem a little high for me. A few years ago when I was a home therapist for a child with autism (and I have a degree), I was paid $15 an hour to provide one-on-one teaching (I believe that rate has gone up a few dollars since then). I can’t imagine paying my 13/14 year old babysitters that much to watch my kids. Not that they aren’t totally worth it, because they are the best, and have become part of our extended family. But if I had to pay them that much every time they watched our kids, I would never be able to afford to go out. We do a lot of special things for them outside of cash for their help. But I could never afford to pay that much for regular babysitting services.

Kelly May 1, 2009, 4:16 PM

Wow! I charge 7 dollars an hour, but then again I am only 17. When I started babysitting for other families I did not know what to charge, especially when I babysat for a single mother who was a waitress… I couldn’t ask for 10 dollars an hour when she didn’t even make that herself!

Dani May 3, 2009, 2:32 PM

If you are wondering what to charge check this article out.

@sittercity Settles the Age-Old Mystery Once and For All: What Should You Pay Your Sitter? http://tinyurl.com/ceydo7

Kelsey May 13, 2009, 12:15 AM

I used to babysit neighborhood kids every-now-and-then and only charged like $7 or so. And that was for a 6 year old and a 2 or 3 year old. Now I have a full-time babysitting job and get paid $11 an hour for a 10 year old and a 6 year old. It’s pretty easy and they give me gas money to take the kids to their baseball games…And this is in Alabama

aerialla May 21, 2009, 12:40 PM

Is it any wonder why some women can’t afford to have moms work outside the home. Thank goodness I live in Ohio and have a wonderful young woman who has watched my girls since they were toddlers. The most I have ever been charged an hour is $3.25 and that’s for both kids. They have a wonderful environment with someone who treats them like family. I work part-time as a coffee barista so with only making minimum wage I could’t afford to work in the summer if I had to pay more. To me $10 seems almost unreasonable. If someone would have told me that years ago I would have laughed. With sitting fees like that it makes you wonder how many children are staying home on their own, especially after school.

babysitter September 25, 2009, 4:48 PM

I’m a babysitter of 2 little boys. My boss pay me 13/hr and I don’t think is enough since I make beds, laundry, dishes. I have a lot experience too. At least 15/hr since I live in ny!

Jody Maley September 25, 2009, 7:06 PM

Wow,

I cannot believe the price of babysitting! I guess that is why I have chosen to be a wahm and luckily have tonnes of support from family and friends when it comes to the care of my children. I have six and have very rarely had to pay for babysitters!
Jody In Beautiful BC

diana January 20, 2010, 12:25 PM

i started taking care of two kids and she pays me 20 dollars a day not for each one but for both..and i sleep their too its all day and all night i think that is wrong but i dont want to say anything because she is my moms friend but o well money is money!:)what yall think i should doo i dont want to say anything because she dont make as much money but i need money too!

diana January 20, 2010, 12:29 PM

i got payed 60 dollars from 7 in the afternoon till 4 in the morning for 3 days and i dont think that was right but i dont want to say anything because she is my moms friend.and she dont make alot of money i didnt know you you could get paid 10 dollars and hour if i would have known that i would have gotten paid 240 dollars.

skylar March 24, 2010, 4:29 PM

I’m 13. I’m babysitting 2 boys(5 and 9 years) i’m there from 7:30(my mom takes me) until 4:30(there dad brings me home). They don’t take naps. I make breakfast and lunch. The boys love me and their parents are family friends. This is a TINY town. How much would you pay me?

anonymous May 6, 2010, 8:48 PM

This website is making me feel like a doormat. I have several years of child care experience, but did not know the updated rates. I am babysitting two toddlers (for a friend). One of which I am transporting to school every day. I am receiving 4 dollars per hour, and am being given $4.00 for a week’s worth of school transportation. I am feeling very used. Not to mention completely exhausted, as caring for children can very well be more tiring than an office job. Far too often sitters are not paid fairly for the care, responsibility, and labor put into this work.

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dion February 23, 2011, 7:58 PM

Seems a bit high

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Tuan Dodge March 16, 2011, 7:46 PM

I’d have to acknowledge with you here. Which is not something I typically do! I really like reading a post that will make people think. Also, thanks for allowing me to speak my mind!

Renee March 22, 2011, 11:41 AM


Wow, you guys feel bad for getting paid at least $6.00 /HR? Can you imagine how i feel? I babysit for a friend of the families, 3 children… 9 month 3yr old and 5yr old, from 4;30 am till 6;3 pm and get paid only 100 bucks every 2 weeks. :/ Totally getting myself a new job. What do you think on that?

försäkring till bilen April 9, 2011, 1:49 AM

But wanna state that this is very helpful , Thanks for taking your time to write this.


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