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What is the difference between a babysitter and a nanny?

What is the difference between a babysitter and a nanny?

If you’re looking to hire a caregiver for your child, you might be asking yourself one of the questions that we’re most frequently asked: What’s the difference between a nanny and a babysitter?

The thing is, it’s not always so clear cut. Each childcare job description varies slightly, and the line between nanny vs. babysitter can be somewhat of a huge grey area. The key lies in the job description you create for your child’s caregiver, which is then agreed upon by the caregiver you hire. So, what matters most is that you are clear from the outset on what exactly the job will entail, and less so on whether candidates meet some ‘specific’ definition of nanny or babysitter.

There are, however, some general guidelines that can help you decide which term to use – nanny vs. babysitter – to create a job description that will attract a caregiver with the desired qualifications and who will perform the duties your family needs. Using these commonly accepted definitions of ‘babysitter’ and ‘nanny’ is a good starting point to understanding who you should hire.

Nanny vs. babysitter: A general guide*

Hourly rate$25,39/hour**$26,57/hour**
Weekly rate$381/week**
(based on 15 hour/week)
(based on 40 hours/week)
Employment statusUsually temporary, but sometimes regularRegular
ScheduleAs needed, often for date nights or other short stintsPart-time or full-time, usually while parents work
Holiday leaveNoYes
CertificationCPR and first aid, basic childcare training and/or experienceCPR and first aid, advanced childcare training and/or years of experience
Duties besides childcareAs agreedOften includes meal prep, housework, sometimes driving and errands
* Caregivers on the platform may not follow this terminology breakdown.

What is a babysitter?

Average hourly rate: $25,39**

Average weekly rate: $381** (based on 15 hours/week)

babysitter is typically someone who temporarily cares for children on behalf of the children’s parents or guardians. A babysitter may also be referred to as a ‘sitter’, and the most basic job description is that they take care of children of all ages in need of supervision on an as-needed basis.

Babysitters provide for the safety of children for several hours, often with the family members nearby and available by phone. They usually work for a few hours in the evening or at the weekend.

Most babysitting jobs are considered part-time jobs that are paid by the hour and are either scheduled regularly (e.g., every day after school from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. or every Saturday night) or for special occasions (e.g., New Year’s Eve).

Babysitters are generally responsible for planning activities for your children (like games, sports, arts and crafts), supervising playdates and/or helping get the children ready for bed. They may do some light household chores, such as washing dishes or emptying the nappy bin. Some sitters may be willing to take on additional responsibilities for extra pay; these could include cooking, vacuuming, driving children to and from scheduled activities and helping with homework. Make sure that your expectations are clear to any babysitter candidates you interview.

Above all else, a babysitter is responsible for the safety and well-being of your children while in their care.

What is a nanny?

Average hourly rate: $26,57**

Average weekly rate: $1063** (based on 15 hours/week)

As for the definition of a nanny, this is usually someone who is fully invested in a child’s development and well-being. Perhaps it’s a regular gig that best differentiates a nanny from a babysitter. Generally, a nanny will care for children full-time while both parents are at work. This usually means regular hours and a long-term contract. Nannies tend to have consistent, contracted work for at least three months, but usually one year or more.

It’s a nanny’s responsibility to draw up daily schedules and engage in activities to ensure healthy mental, physical and emotional growth in the children they care for. Typically, nannies have more responsibilities and duties than a babysitter.

Care by a nanny includes providing meals and activities for the children and may also include taking them on outings and providing additional support, such as transporting them to and from school, from school to clubs, sports practices, playdates and other activities. Nannies work autonomously and may have full responsibility for caring for the children when families are out of town.

Most nannies will also be tasked with preparing meals, helping with household chores (e.g., dishes, laundry) and assisting with homework.

In addition to basic safety courses, a nanny may have had advanced childcare training or many years of childcare experience. Often, nannies earn a weekly salary (based on hourly expectations), have taxes deducted from their pay and work year-round for a family. It’s expected that nannies receive benefits, including at least two weeks of paid holiday leave, and earn holiday pay, as well. Nannies often become part of the family, bonding with the children in a different way than their parents do. Some families consider their nannies co-parents or partners in parenting, getting information from their nannies on their child’s development and interests or asking their nannies to help their children cope with losses and stress.

Because the job of a nanny is much like that of a parent, most families and nannies work together to draw up a nanny contract that lays out all the terms and conditions of the job, including holiday leave, sick days and more.

There are many different types of nannies, depending on whether you’re looking for part-time, full-time, live-in or live-out care:

Full-time live-out nanny

  • Works “full-time” (i.e., five days a week, usually 45 to 50 hours)
  • Focuses exclusively on childcare (e.g., play, bath time, meals, activities, homework, transportation)
  • May have extensive training or education in childhood development, which makes them a valuable asset
  • May work extra hours or use their own car to help with nanny duties (such as picking up children from school), both of which will affect their rates
  • Gets paid a weekly or salaried rate, which you can negotiate during the initial interview
  • Does not reside in the family’s home or perform any non-child-related cleaning or household chores

Full-time live-in nanny

  • Has the same responsibilities as a live-out nanny, but resides in the family’s home
  • Receives a furnished room, a private bathroom and sometimes a mobile phone and a car in exchange for reduced care fees
  • Maintains specific boundaries around work and non-work hours

Nanny housekeeper

  • Handles the same childcare duties as a live-in or live-out nanny, but also performs housekeeping duties during nap or quiet time or while the children are at school
  • May charge more (whether hourly or salary) than other nannies because they are providing additional services

Part-time nanny

  • Cares for children regularly, but for shorter time periods could be a few hours a week, only Monday to Wednesday or only after school
  • Will be more involved than a babysitter

The most important thing is that your child’s caregiver is providing the type and quality of care that’s right for your family. So now when you’re ready to hire, you’ll know the difference between a nanny and a babysitter and reach out to the right candidates for the job.

**All rate data is based on 2022 national averages on