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Tiffany Smith

Whether you're a parent researching how much a babysitter costs, or a sitter deciding what to charge, here are tips to help.

According to the Care.com 2017 Babysitter Survey, the average babysitting rate in 2016 was $13.97 per hour -- which is up 26 percent from $11.11 per hour in 2010. Babysitting rates vary from city to city and depend on a number of different factors, which include the cost of living of any given area. For instance, the average hourly babysitting rate in San Francisco is $16.52, while babysitters in Toledo make just $12.24 per hour. Only one city in the survey—Youngstown, Ohio—averaged under $12 per hour. 

“Parents are increasingly paying more for a babysitter,” said Joyce Hodel, data scientist at Care.com. “What surprised us is that parents are also willing to pay even more in certain circumstances.

[RELATED: "9 Things to Consider Before You Hire Your Next Babysitter"]

"They say they’ll pay extra to help them get through the chaotic hours before and after school; when they’re in need of a last-minute sitter; and for babysitters who have additional skills, education, and training. We’re seeing that this is a babysitter’s market, with parents recognizing that sitters have a huge responsibility and are providing a priceless service.”

The question remains: How do you know what you should be paying for a babysitter – or what you should be charging for a babysitting job?

The following information is topline data from the 2017 Care.com Babysitter Survey, which asked parents about key financial data, as well as more intimate details around how and why they're hiring the sitters they choose.

[RELATED: "7 Things You Can Do to Get More -- and Better -- Babysitting Jobs"]

Once you check out the infographic below, scroll down to find more information about everything related to babysitter costs. This data will help you get a better idea of how much you should pay your sitter -- or how much you should charge for your next babysitting job.

Care.com 2017 Babysitter Survey: Spending Data

Here's a high-level overview of the current trends in how much money families are spending on babysitters.

The Market

You should find out what the current going rate is for babysitters in your neighborhood. Keep in mind, though, that like all jobs, the numbers change over time. What you paid a babysitter five years ago – or were paid to babysit 10 years ago -- is probably much different than what today's sitters are charging.

We took a look at all babysitting jobs posted on Care.com in 2016 and discovered that the national average babysitter rate was $13.97. That means that, since 2010, babysitter pay rates have increased by 26 percent! If you want to see what the going rate for sitters is in your area, check out Care.com's babysitter pay rate calculator .

That being said, whatever you decide to pay your sitter, make sure it's at least minimum wage.

Overall, 83 percent of survey respondents think that sitters should be paid above the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

Learn more about minimum wage and the current rates.

Babysitter Rates By City

If you live in a big city, expect to pay more for a babysitter than someone who lives in the suburbs or in a rural area. Remember: Higher cost of living = higher wages. Take a look at our data on annual babysitter rates for the top metro areas.

For example, when we took a look at our data on babysitting jobs posted on Care.com in 2016, we found that babysitters in San Jose, CA, cost $16.68 per hour and are the most expensive sitters in the country. On the other hand, babysitters in Youngstown, OH, charge about $11.81 per hour -- making them the least expensive.

What are the most expensive and least expensive big cities for hiring babysitters?

The Five Most Expensive Big Cities to Hire a Babysitter (Per Hour)

City Hourly Rate
1) San Jose, CA $16.68
2) San Francisco, CA $16.52

3) Bridgeport, CT

4) Boston, MA $15.51
5) New York, NY $15.23

The Five Least Expensive Big Cities to Hire a Babysitter (Per Hour)

City Hourly Rate
1) Youngstown, OH $11.81
2) Toledo, OH $12.24
3) McAllen, TX $12.36
4) Lakewood, FL $12.52
5) Akron, OH $12.67

(Live in one of these cities? Click on your city's name to see the sitters who are available in your area.)

To Tip or Not to Tip: What Do Parents Choose?

Approximately 1 in 3 (34 percent) of respondents tip on top of the sitters' hourly rates. This number is up from 26 percent of respondents in 2015 who said that they tip their babysitters.

Not sure whether you should tip your babysitter? Here are some situations where you may want to consider it.

How Much Parents Spend Annually on Babysitters

According to the data, 41 percent of parents say that they spend at least $1,000 on babysitting -- and 22 percent say that they spend at least $2,000.

That being said, even though costs are up, 77 percent of parents say that they don't think that they pay too much for their sitters.

In fact, 77 percent claim that they would actually give their sitter a raise.

Which leads perfectly into the next topic...

When Are Families Willing to Pay More?

According to the data, there are quite a few factors that could influence how much more a family would be willing to pay their sitter.

Safety expertise is definitely the number one priority for parents. In fact, a majority of parents (66 percent) say that they would pay more for a sitter with safety training -- specifically, CPR and First Aid certification. And rightfully so!

In the same vein, parents also put a premium on babysitters who have extra credentials, education and/or child care-related certifications. To this point, 41 percent of parents say that they'd pay more for a sitter with an early education degree. And 1 in 3 parents say they'd pay more for a sitter who has the same state-level child care certification required for preschool teachers.

Take a look at this table to see which types of education and certifications parents value the most:

Education/Certification Type Percentage of Responses
Safety Training (e.g., CPR & First Aid Certification) 66%
Early Education Degree 41%
State-Level Child Care Certification Required for Preschool Teachers 33%
Infant Care Certification 31%
College Degree 31%
Water Safety Certification 15%
Special Needs Care 13%
High School Degree 12%

(Babysitters: Check out these 8 Babysitting Training Courses.)

Timing is another factor that families take into account when considering how much they'll pay. According to the survey data, sitters who are hired for before- and after-school hours are paid nearly $2 extra. Additionally, 50 percent of parents would pay at least $3 more per hour for a last-minute sitter.

Care.com 2017 Babysitter Survey: Parent Insights

Now that you have a basic idea of how much families are spending on babysitters -- and what they're willing to spend more for -- let's take a deeper dive into the specific insights parents gave us about the hiring process.

Who’s Hiring the Babysitter?

It depends on who you ask.

Forty-one percent of dads say they and their partner are equally involved, while only 15 percent of moms say it’s equal.

Overall, though, moms still handle the bulk of the babysitter booking. A majority of moms (56 percent) report handling the hiring on their own, compared to 20 percent of dads who say they’re solely in charge of hiring sitters.

No matter who does the hiring, it's important to remember to always interview your sitter before you hire. Make sure to ask detailed questions her detailed questions so that you know that the person has the level of experience you're looking for.

Here are 10 Babysitter Interview Questions Every Family Should Ask.

How Can Families Save on Sitters?

With hourly costs rising, a majority (62 percent) of parents say that they would share a sitter with a friend, and 38 percent say that they would work out a deal with the sitter to work a certain number of hours per month for a lower hourly rate.

Additionally, 40 percent say that they have cut a date short to avoid paying an extra hour, and 76 percent pay a lower rate when their kids are sleeping.

How Do You Find the Perfect Babysitter?

Here are the top three ways parents hire babysitters in the first place:

  • 88 percent rely on recommendations from friends and neighbors;
  • 81 percent ask extended-family members to babysit; and
  • 73 percent use an online service like Care.com.

Pain Points: What Would Help Parents Find a Babysitter?

The top two reasons why families don’t hire a babysitter?

  • Because it’s too stressful to find someone they like and trust (64 percent); and,
  • Because it costs too much (59 percent).

Of parents who think hiring a sitter is cost-prohibitive, 82 percent say that a sitter’s rate would need to be at least $3 less per hour to become financially feasible for them.

When Do Parents Need a Babysitter?

One in 10 parents have hired a before-school sitter, and 13 percent have hired overnight sitters.

According to Care.com, 74 percent of parents hire a sitter at least once a month, with August being the most popular month for babysitter needs, and the three most popular holidays parents seek babysitting help are around New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day, and Halloween

[RELATED: "How to Hire a Sitter for New Year's Eve"]

Date night sitters (65 percent), daytime sitters (61 percent), and after-school sitters (26 percent) are the top three types of sitters parents hire.

The Paradox of Single Parents and Babysitters

Although single parents are more likely to say that cost prevents them from hiring a sitter, they’re actually more likely to spend at least $1,000 on babysitters than their married counterparts (58 percent vs. 38 percent, respectively).

Single parents are also more likely than married parents to consider their babysitter to be a member of the family (44 percent vs. 28 percent, respectively).

What Are Babysitters' Typical Responsibilities?

The top five things parents ask their sitter to do are:

  • Feed the children;
  • Put them to bed;
  • Read to them;
  • Play games and sports; and,
  • Offer parent-approved media choices (e.g., TV shows, movies, apps).

What Makes a "Bad Babysitter"?

When it comes to babysitter "don’ts," 76 percent of parents ask their sitter not to be distracted by their phone, and 65 percent ask that they don’t post photos of their children on social media.

Yet, the top three things parents have caught their sitter doing without their permission are:

  • Excessively texting (14 percent);
  • Playing on social media (11 percent); and
  • Watching TV (10 percent).

How Much Do Families Value a Good Babysitter?

Take note, babysitters: Seventy-seven percent of parents would give their favorite sitter a pay raise if they asked for one, and almost 1 in 3 (31 percent) consider their sitter a member of the family.

[RELATED: "Should You Give Your Babysitter a Raise?"]

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. Sixty percent of respondents said that the thing that mattered most to them was that the kids loved her.

So, when you hire a babysitter, make sure to pay her fairly to help start a long, trusting relationship -- and to make sure she's not lured away by a higher-paying neighbor!

Learn how to be a Fair Care Employer.

Take the Fair Care Pledge.

About the Care.com Data

The Care.com 2017 Babysitter Survey captured responses from more than 800 parents in the United States during the month of February 2017. Respondents were recruited from Care.com membership. The Care.com member data, which includes pay rate data for sitters, is from Care.com babysitter jobs posted from all 50 states during 2016. To see full versions of the survey and data sets, click on the links below:

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