1. Community
  2. /
  3. Children & Parenting
  4. /
  5. Care options - Babysitters
Find Babysitters

5 Types of Child Care Providers Who Can Make Your Life Easier

Erin Darwin
Feb. 26, 2018

Figure out what type of sitter -- or sitters -- you should hire to fit your family's needs.

Raising kids is hard enough! When you need some child care help, there are so many different names and titles for sitters, it can make your head spin. What's the difference between a nanny and a babysitter? What's the difference between a part-time nanny and a full-time nanny? What type of help you really need?

Here's a helpful list of the different types of sitters and what they do. Once you figure out what fits your needs, post a job on Care.com and find your perfect sitter.

  1. Mother's Helper
    You're not going crazy, you just need a quiet cup of coffee and five minutes in the bathroom without that little one screaming through the door that she needs you now. Stay-at-home parents can sometimes feel uneasy about hiring someone to help around the house, but needing a babysitter doesn't mean you lose the "Super Mom" title -- it just means you know when to take a breather from those ever-energetic kids! A mother's helper is usually young -- maybe 12 or 13 depending on maturity levels -- and plays with your child when you're in the house and can supervise. It's like a babysitter-in-training. If having a trusted sitter to relieve you for even a few hours a week means you get some uninterrupted time to get work done, cook dinner or read an actual book, then it's worth it.

  2. Babysitter
    A babysitter is something that every parent should have in their arsenal. Whether you ask one to watch your kids while you run errands or go on a date night with your partner, babysitters make your life run smoothly. Sitters will play with your kids, feed them and even handle bedtime. They're great for a few short hours when you need a break. Lots of families hire teenage babysitters to fill this role. Look for someone with the age and maturity to do the things you need. Will they be making dinner and putting your kids to bed, or will the kids already be asleep and the babysitter just has to sit in the house while you go out for the evening?

  3. Full-Time Nanny
    Nannies can be particularly helpful to working parents. They care for and entertain your child all day while you're gone. Parents who work from home often rely on nannies just to get a full day's work in. While balancing work and kids in the home may sound ideal, anyone who's tried to compose a simple email with kids underfoot knows it can be counterproductive.

    This shouldn't be a source of guilt, though. Nannies are career-child care professionals who can be depended on every day. They often plan activities, and can help teach your child things like table manners. Nannies are different from babysitters because they watch your kids for longer periods of time, and are more involved in their development and education.

  4. Part-Time Nanny
    Sometimes you need someone who is a mix of babysitter and nanny. That's where part-time nannies come up. Maybe you need someone to watch your kids for a few hours every day during the gap between when school lets out and you come home from work. Maybe you need someone to watch your kids all day when they are on school vacation for a week -- but you can't take a week off work. Babysitters aren't the best option because you want someone who is more involved with your kids and is trained in child care. And you don't need a full-time nanny who will watch your kids all day. So post a job for a part-time nanny and get someone who fits what you need.

  5. Backup Sitter
    You're lucky enough to have a go-to, reliable, you-can-always-count-on-me sitter, nanny or day care provider, but what happens when your unfailing caregiver....well, fails? She's only human, which means sometimes your babysitter will get sick, leave for vacation or have a date night of her own when you really need her. And if you're in day care, there's that always-looming chance your child could get a fever -- and have to stay home until it breaks. So it's always a good idea to have someone qualified you can call in case your regular caregiver can't watch the kids for one reason or another.

    Learn how services like Care.com Backup Care can help you find quality backup child care in a pinch. 

Erin Darwin is a freelance writer living in San Francisco with her two kids and husband.

Aug. 12, 2014

To Val: I sympathize with you and I really wish that parents would STOP treating us like we are beneath them. I have come across a few myself, and actually was on my hands and knees washing the cement on the patio, that was before she told me to pick up the dead mouse in her garage that had been there for quite some time. OOOPS someone just crossed the line.. And then she would wait until there were people there to humiliate me, or so she thought. I am a very outspoken person however I also have manners, and am not ignorant. You did the best thing by walking away from the situation. I know it is difficult being unemployed because I am and am self supportive, but I will live in my car before I allow anyone to mistreat me or disrespect me. You will find another family that will be so grateful to have found you and that other woman is going to scream at the wrong person someday and it won't be pretty Good luck to you, I will be thinking about you.

Aug. 8, 2014

To Val; that is awful what happened to you. Believe me, there are kind, caring, understanding employers out there. I work for wonderful parents now, but had gone through something similiar to what you did previously (although not quite as bad). Just don't give up, keep looking and you and the right family will find each other. Good luck!

June 15, 2014

As a nanny, I took pride in realizing that I was suitable in all those areas you mentioned that was characterized as things to seek in a good nanny! Recently I took a position where the parents were home while I cared for the 18 moth old...while it IS her son, during times him and I were engaged In activities she would come and pull him away from me! Housework was also include during naps when I worked my rearend off cleaning, and she found something wrong with every thing I did to the point where she screamed at me several times using really inappropriate language In front of her son. Im have a meek personality and just allowed her to scream me out of the house last Monday..I am still devasted by this interaction plus I'm out of a job!

Feb. 5, 2014

Great Article! Helps me define my position as a part time nanny

July 22, 2013

Great to know the expectations of off those jobs! I feel like being a babysitter or a mothers helper would be a great way to help a family find its center again. Sometimes all you need is an extra set of hands.

Leave a comment

Create a free account with Care.com and join our community today.

Sign up