How Much Should You Pay Your Sitter?
The average babysitting rate is about $13.50 per hour, as of 2014 numbers. But that rate varies widely depending on a number of factors. How can you know what to pay or what to change?
Care.com recently conducted a survey of over 1,000 members and collected data from our own internal numbers to figure out the latest trends in babysitter pay and hiring. Check out our infographic and video. Then scroll down for more information on everything related to costs and how much you should be paying your sitter.
Here are things to think about when settling on a rate:
- The Market
Find out the current going rate for babysitters in your neighborhood. Like all jobs, the numbers change over time. What you were paid to babysit is probably much different than what today's sitters are charging.
Here are the national average babysitter rates for the past few years. In 2014, babysitter rates were $13.44 per hour. Since 2009, babysitter pay rates have increased 28 percent!
- Minimum Wage
Whatever you pay your sitter, make sure it's at least minimum wage. 3 out of 4 Care.com parents think sitters should be paid above minimum wage.
Learn more about minimum wage and the current rates.
If you live in a big city, expect to pay more for a babysitter than someone who lives in the suburbs or a rural area. Higher cost of living = higher wages. For example, San Francisco babysitters cost $16.55 per hour and are the most expensive sitters in the country. On the other hand, Grand Rapids, MI babysisters charge $11.31 per hour and are the cheapest.
Here are the most and least expensive cities for hiring babysitters:
The Top 10 Priciest Cities to Hire a Sitter
1. San Francisco, CA $16.55 2. San Jose, CA $15.63 3. Boston, MA $15.37 4. New York, NY $15.09 5. Washington DC $14.99 6. Bridgeport, CT $14.91 7. Seattle, WA $14.43 8. Hartford, CT $14.28 9. Los Angeles, CA $14.27 10. Philadelphia, PA $14.19
The Top 10 Cheapest Cities to Hire a Sitter
1. Grand Rapids, MI $11.31 2. Columbia, SC $11.72 3. Rochester, NY $11.79 4. Salt Lake City, UT $11.82 5. Akron, OH $11.84 6. Colorado Springs, CO $11.85 7. Des Moines, IA $11.97 8. Tulsa, OK $12.00 9. Boise, ID $12.06 10. Omaha, NB $12.16
- Babysitter's Age
Pay younger sitters, who generally have less experience, less than you would pay someone older.
Are you hiring a sitter who has spent years caring for kids? Or are you looking for someone who is just starting out? 51 percent of parents would pay more for an older, more experienced sitter -- usually an extra $5 per hour.
When you're interviewing a sitter, make sure to ask detailed questions -- so you know the person has the level of experience you're looking for. Here are 10 Babysitter Interview Questions Every Family Should Ask.
- Type of Sitter
Are you hiring a babysitter or a nanny? Do you know that there's a big difference? And a big difference in what you should be paying. Think of sitters as more occassional child care -- they're great for watching and playing with your kids on date night for a few short hours. If you need full-time or regular child care, you need a nanny. Nannies are child care professionals who do more with your kids in terms of development and so earn more.
Get more tips about the difference between a babysitter and a nanny.
- Number of Children
If you have more than one child, expect to pay $2 to $5 more an hour for each additional child. (So, if you'd pay $50 for one child for four hours, expect to pay about $60 for two children, $70 for three and so on.)
- How Long She's Worked for You
If a sitter has been with you for many years, increase her wages as her experience increases. According to the Care.com survey, 87 of families would give their favorite sitter a raise. Here are seven signs it's time for a raise.
Here are the types of education that parents value the most when looking for a babysitter:
CPR/First Aid/safety training
High school degree
Early education degree
Safety expertise is definitely the number one priority for parents. A sitter who knows CPR will usually cost more. And rightfully so! Specialized training should always be rewarded.
Check out these 8 Babysitting Training Courses.
- When You Book
About a third of families say they hire sitters the week before they need them. Another 26 percent do it the same week.
Waiting to book may mean it costs you more. 64 percent of parents told Care.com they would pay more for a last-minute sitter.
Is it Valentine's Day, New Year's Eve, Halloween or St. Patrick's Day? These are the most popular holidays for people to hire a sitter on Care.com. As lots of families need child care, sitters may be in higher demand or asking for more money. Book early for the best rates.
And follow this advice for hiring a sitter for New Year's Eve.
If the sitter will put them to bed, lock the doors and watch TV, you can pay less. 1 in 5 parents give sitters a lower rate if their kids are sleeping.
But if the kids will be awake the whole time or if you ask the sitter to do additional tasks and chores, the more you should pay. The most common things families ask sitters to do are:
- Feed the kids
- Read to them
- Put them to bed
- Play games and sports
- Pick them up from school
For each meal your sitter prepares, add a few dollars to her wages. You don't have to pay more if you just want her to order pizza, but leave enough money for the pie.
Is your sitter picking your kids up or driving them around? Give her extra. Learn how to reimburse a sitter for gas and mileage.
Parents are often confused about whether or not they should tip a sitter. Only 26 percent of families told us that they tip their sitter (another 34 percent only tip around the holidays), so it's not very common.
But there are certain circumstances where it may make sense, such as when a sitter goes above and beyond. Read more about when babysitters should get tips.
Many families pay babysitters under the table (i.e. in cash, with no taxes withheld). This is fine, as long as the babysitter doesn't earn $1,900 or more during the calendar year. However, if you anticipate paying your sitter more than $1,900 or becoming a regular employee, filing taxes for her is the right thing to do and can have benefits in the long run.
It's not as overwhelming as you many think, and Care.com HomePay can even handle the tax process for you. For more information on tax forms, read our article Nanny Tax Forms and Procedures to get started.
But when it comes down to it, finding the right babysitter for your family is about more than just dollars and cents. In the survey, we asked parents what the most important thing is when hiring a sitter. Only 3 percent said it's how much she costs. 49 percent said it's that the kids love her.
So when you hire a babysitter, pay her fairly to help start a long, trusting relationship -- and to make sure she's not lured away by a higher-paying neighbor!
And if you have a sitter and are ready to head out, but don't know where to go, here are 101 Cheap Date Ideas for inspiration.
Tiffany Smith is the senior associate editor here at Care.com. She has written for All You, Time for Kids and the Boston Globe. And as a former babysitter, she knows a lot about fun games to play with kids. Getting them to eat their veggies -- that’s a different story! Follow her on Twitter at @tiffanyiswrite.