Tiffany Smith @TiffanySmith

Babysitting FAQ

Everything you need to know about babysitters and babysitting.

You've got questions and we've got answers. Whether you've found the perfect family already or are just getting started on your search, this is your guide to everything you'll need to know along the way. Have a question that isn't answered here? Post it in our comment section!

Getting Started as a Babysitter:
What is a babysitter?
What responsibilities does a babysitter have?
What is the difference between a babysitter and a nanny?
What is an overnight babysitter?
What is a mother's helper?
Am I too young to babysit?
Babysitter Traits: What the Best Babysitters Have In Common
What are the babysitting basics I need to know?
What are some babysitting tips?
Where can I find classes and courses on babysitting?

Finding a Babysitting Job and Getting Hired:
Where can I find babysitting jobs?
Where can I find part-time babysitting jobs?
How do I get a summer babysitting job?
Which skills should I include on my babysitter resume?
Do I need references to be hired as a babysitter?
What are some babysitter interview questions?
What are a family's expectations for babysitter?
How do I get my babysitter background check?
How can I start my babysitting business?

Things to Know As a Babysitter:
What is the current going rate for a babysitter?
What is a babysitter's report?
What should I keep in my babysitter supply bag?
What should families include on an emergency list?
What is babysitter sharing?
What is babysitter poaching?

Leaving a Babysitting Job:
What should I do if I can no longer babysit?
Is it okay for me to quit my babysitting job?
What happens if I get fired from my babysitting job?

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Tiffany Smith is the senior associate editor here at 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


Oldest comments are listed first

  • Due to the whooping cough epidemic in Washington state ( are you ensuring your babysitters/nannies are up to date with their Tdap booster? Especially those caring for newborns or kids that for sound medical reasons are not able to be vaccinated? The Dept. of Health recently released this flyer for daycares specifically but I imagine that all care providers especially those in charge of the care of newborns need to get a boost: Frankly as someone who is sometimes in the market for a sitter I would appreciate not just being able to sort by rate charged or experience but also would like to ensure my sitter also is up to date on his or her vaccinations.


  • I babysit from home and from time to time, go to the family's home to babysit. I have always let the families know that I am a babysit, not a daycare center. I charge low rates. I have just been informed by one of the families that they are going to claim the money they have paid me on their taxes. How is this going to effect me? Will this throw a flag to the state for licensing?

  • @Julieann B. I am currently discussing taxes with my family as well. My question is whether tax cuts, or tax rules are the same between nannies and babysitters? Also, I recently did the math and came to conclusion that what I make from the family I work for.. basically just pays for my gas to pick up the kids from school and take them to their lessons and home, which I only work maybe one or two days a week. Like I said about this family is also discussing taxes with me, which means a slight pay cut. What would you do in this situation?

  • Hi Regina! The tax rules are the same for babysitters and nannies. Both are considered household employees and should have Social Security and Medicare taxes withheld from their pay if they make more than $1,800 in a calendar year. The family is simply complying with the law, which is good news for you as well. The reason is that when you have taxes withheld throughout the year and file the W-2 the family provides, you are establishing an employment history and building credit with the federal government for Social Security and Medicare benefits you'll receive when you retire.

  • What should I wear to an interview with a parent?

  • Regina, in response to your comment about noticing your pay is pretty much your gas money, and you're commuting alot with the children, it would be a good idea to jot down your calculations and bring it up to the family. Open communication is key, and asking for an extra $20 bucks a week or every 2 weeks if you need it for gas to transport THEIR CHILDREN, is totally reasonable and fair, and hopefully your family is a good one that, when faced with the numbers, will think so too.

  • @Estela, I find that what i wear to an interview changes depending on the feel I get for the parents. For example, I interviewed for 2 families today- one family where both the parents were musicians, and another where the parents owned a super cute boutique, so I felt comfortable wearing a colorful striped blouse,cute sandals-and colorful dainty earrings. But when I interview for families where they seem more conservative, I keep it conservative as well. black slacks,stylish closed toe flats,nice plain blouse. But nothing short-lowcut-sleeveless-tight- for any interviews (and mostly I adhere to a closed toe shoe rule as well). Hope that helps!

  • I have a family asking for my ss# for taxes! I don't want to give them this info because we had some ups and down ans and I don't trust them. Do I have to give them my #!?!?!?

  • Hi Tabitha! My name is Stephanie Breedlove and I am the head of HomePay. While I understand your concern for giving out your Social Security number, the family does need it to complete their employer taxes and issue your W-2 at tax time. I hope your employment relationship improves Tabitha!

  • I'm a first time, young baby sitter. I have dealt with many young kids but mostly in the family. What would be some really good tips for a first time, before I stick my name out for the world to see? Should I do it at my house? What if I dont even know the family or the kids? What if the kids nor the family has delt with baby sitting? What is a good first time baby sitter time length? Like an hour? Two? A half an hour? I'm finding I don't know as much, should I be 2nd guessing this? Help me, please.

  • I worked for a family for 40 hours and they are requesting for my ss to fill tax. what can I do please?

  • Hi Habibat! I understand your hesitation in wanting to protect your Social Security number, especially since you worked so little hours for the family. However, they are most likely trying to file for a tax break on the childcare expenses and the IRS requires your Social Security number in order to properly file the form. I'm assuming you trust the family enough to work for them, so I wouldn't worry about providing this information for them either.

  • Please help, the family that I worked for asked my SS number to file their tax in order to claim their dependent care credits. Unfortunately, I gave it without even thinking will it hurt me with the IRS later on? Because in the beginning we were agreed not to claim/paying tax since they only paid me $5/hour (sometimes $7)under the minimum wage of Wisconsin, 40 to 50 hours/ week. They also paid me with check although in the beginning we were agreed to pay cash only due to tax matters. There is no personal contract whatsoever. Being afraid that IRS will found out I don't pay taxes on my income,should I also file tax even though I only worked for 6 months?

  • Hi Hannah! I'm Stephanie Breedlove with HomePay and I'll be happy to help you out, but I'm going to preface by saying there's a lot of moving parts here that will require both you and the family's attention. But before we begin that discussion, I need to reiterate that federal law says you must be paid at least $7.25 per hour for the first 40 hours you work in a 7-day workweek and at least 1.5 times that amount (overtime) for any additional hours - or $10.88 per hour. Now let's move on to taxes. I'm very concerned that the family is applying your wages to the Child Care Tax Credit because in doing so, they're telling the IRS what they paid you, but the IRS won't find any information backing this claim up because the family hasn't been paying taxes. This could potentially lead to an audit which impacts the family - and you as well if you don't claim these wages and pay the appropriate income taxes. In order to correct these mistakes, they family really needs to go back and account for the Social Security & Medicare (FICA) taxes that were never withheld from your pay. They need to set up tax IDs with the IRS and the state of Wisconsin and file late tax returns. They also need to provide you with a W-2 because that is how you're supposed to file your personal income tax return as a household employee. This is a lot to do in a short amount of time, but HomePay can actually do all this for the family if they're willing to put everything on the books for 2013. If they family is unwilling to go through this catch-up process, the only recourse you have is to file an IRS Form 4852 which is a substitute for the W-2. You'll claim the wages paid to you and have to include some information about the family because the IRS will want to know why no taxes were ever withheld. This could lead to an audit for the family, but you'll be protecting yourself from risk because you'll pay the income taxes associated with your wages. I sincerely hope everything works out for you Hannah and I hope moving forward, you and the family can get on the same page when it comes to taxes. The sooner you both address the situation, the quicker it will go away.

  • Stephanie Breedlove, Thank you very much for your respond. It answer all my questions and concerns. I will follow through with what you recommended to do. I greatly appreciate you responding back to me.

  • My daughter is 12 and is interested in being a baby sitter. However, I suggest she start as a mothers helper. My question concerns signing up for this site. Do I sign up with my info on behalf of my daughter, or in my daughters name? I'm concerned about who contacts her, and obviously want to monitor that. Can you tell me more about the process? Thank you,

  • Hello John, We offer membership to care providers aged 14-17. Unfortunately, your daughter will not yet be eligible for a membership with, but I will still be happy to provide some information in case you consider it in the future! For your child s safety, all members under 18 will need parent or guardian approval to complete an account on A valid, verifiable, parent or guardian name and email address is required to be associated with their account. Please note that you, as the parent or guardian, will have full access to the teen member s account and will be copied on all communication between, potential employers, and the teen member. Additionally you will have full access to the content of their account, as well as full editing capabilities. Upon creation of an account, the parent or guardian will be contacted to complete the enrollment process. All information provided will be checked and verified against a number of databases and resources to ensure accuracy and validity. We want to ensure that your teen's experience is positive and safe. Direct contact information is not visible on any profile. For privacy purposes, your phone number, email address, last name and street address are kept private at all times.

  • How do you handle clients that cancel at the last minute. It's one thing when you have an ongoing contract with a family and you have established your weekly or monthly rate and what you require when they need to cancel or don't need you. But what about occasional clients that you only serve once in a while when they set up a date night. And they habitually cancel out on you. It is frustrating when you set aside your schedule for people and then you get a text that day or day before saying that someone is sick or they decided not to keep the date. I could have turned down other work or rescheduled my time for them and there is no compensation. But I am not sure how to handle.

  • I have and interview tomorrow with a family for babysitting and they asked me to bring a copy of my ss, and ID with me, but no reason for it. Is that normal to be asked for your ss? The first time someone had asked for a copy of it for a babysitting interview.

  • Hi. I was trying to sign up for a background check but it kept telling me to please enter a valid social security number when I know my social security number is correct. What do I do?

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