How Much Does a Babysitter Cost?
In Part 3 of "The Babysitting Guide," we discuss how much babysitters typically cost, as well as the factors that can affect rates.
If you’re looking for a sitter, odds are that pay rate plays a big part in who you choose. According to the 2017 Care.com Babysitter Survey, the average babysitting rate in 2016 was about $13.97 per hour -- a 26 percent increase from $11.11 per hour in 2010.
But before you freak out, keep in mind that babysitter rates can vary pretty significantly for a number of reasons. If you haven't thought about babysitting rates in a while, or you’re a new parent with no clue what to expect, check out our infographic to see what factors our survey respondents said play a role in the rates they pay their sitters.
You can also scroll past the infographic to find the nine factors that impact babysitting rates the most.
Top 9 Factors That Impact Babysitting Rates
- Where You Live: Cost of living is an issue no matter the job title. Babysitters in big cities will have to charge more than babysitters in small towns. Check out the map below to see what the going rate for a sitter is in your area.
- Amount of Experience: The more experience, the higher the wage. A teenager with no experience should charge less than a mature sitter with extensive experience and certifications. If experience and references are most important to you, be willing to pay a little more than you would for a new sitter.
- Number and Age(s) of Children: If you have more than one child, expect to pay $2 to $5 more an hour for each additional child. Also keep in mind that caring for a newborn requires more expertise than older children. Babysitters who care for newborns charge 2 percent more on average.
- Activities: Does your sitter need to take your child (or children) to appointments (e.g., doctor, music lessons, soccer practice)? Does she need to have any special tutoring skills to help your child (e.g. reading, homework)? When she needs to drive and provide other services, a sitter will usually charge a slightly higher rate.
- Time of Day: Will your child (or children) be awake or asleep during the sitter's stay? Is she working early mornings or late nights? Evening and weekend sitters may charge more than day sitters, so keep that in mind. If a sitter is there while kids are asleep, many parents feel that they should pay less per hour, but keep in mind that she’s still working during her stay. You can discuss “after bed” rates with her but don’t expect to pay less unless she offers.
- Special Needs: If your child has special needs that require skilled interaction or involvement, plan to pay a higher rate. You can search for Special Needs Babysitters that may have the specific certifications and experiences your family needs. Always prioritize a sitter’s training, certifications, and experience with children with needs similar to your child’s.
- Special Certifications and Training: In our 2017 survey, 41 percent of parents said they'd be willing to pay more for a sitter with an early education degree, and 66 percent said they'd pay more for a sitter with some kind of safety training (e.g., CPR & First Aid Certification). If specific training or education is important to you, pay accordingly. You’ll feel much more peace of mind leaving your children with someone so qualified.
- Housekeeping: When you consider hiring a sitter, lay out what other (non-child care-related) duties you’d like her to do. The first priority should always be child care, but if your sitter is there while the kids are asleep, she may offer housekeeping, cleanup, or “dish duty.” Pay extra if the sitter is willing to do light housekeeping and also understand that, if the kids aren’t asleep, she may not be able to get to everything.
- Transportation: If your sitter is a teen who can’t drive yet, you may have to pick her up or pay for a cab or bus ride home. But if she can drive and uses her own car to transport your children, add a little extra to her final rate to cover mileage. For more information, check out this article on mileage reimbursement.
Worried About a Sitter’s Rates?
If you're unsure about the fairness of a sitter’s rates, ask your friends what they are paying their sitters. You can also use the Care.com Babysitter Pay Calculator or the Care.com Full-Time Option Calculator to see what the average rate is in your town. If you think a sitter is charging a rate that doesn’t fit with your budget, continue your search. You’ll find someone whose rates fit your budget and who has the experience and personality you want!
Remember: Good babysitters can be tough to come by. If you find one, hang onto her by compensating accordingly.
Christine Koh is a music and brain scientist turned parent and writer about parenting issues for Care.com. She is also the editor of BostonMamas.com.