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Should You Tip a Babysitter?

Alaina Brandenburger
July 25, 2017

What's the protocol when it comes to tipping your sitter?

You know you're expected to tip waiters, bartenders and cab drivers, but what about the other people who make your life go smoothly? Your babysitter is one person who may deserve a little extra now and then.

Although tipping your sitter is not required, Daniel Post Senning, author and spokesperson for the Emily Post Institute, Lynda Margaret, etiquette expert and founder of The Elegance Course, and Mary Fischer, the Mommyologist, provide six instances when you may want to add on something additional.

  1. Going Above and Beyond
    All sitters are not created equal. Some interact and entertain the kids, while others do all of that and more. If your babysitter does more than what is expected (cleans the house, folds laundry, takes the kids to ballet class, deals with unusually rambunctious kids, etc.), it may be nice to add more to her pay.

    “I typically give her an extra hour's pay,” says Fischer. “I want her to know how much we value her, and also because I want to be at the top of her list should she receive requests to babysit from other families on the same night as us.”

  2. Dealing With an Unexpected Situation
    If something happens that is beyond your control, and the sitter steps up to the plate, a tip is a good way to say thank you. For example, if you come home late, the power goes out or your child gets sick all over your sitter, a few extra dollars might be warranted.

  3. Stepping up Last Minute
    It can be extremely difficult to find a good sitter under normal circumstances. When there's an emergency and you need one on a whim, it’s good to have a reliable resource. According to Margaret, “If your babysitter has to come on short notice, a tip of up to 20 percent is a sufficient amount.”

  4. Building a Relationship
    “A gratuity is appropriate in any situation in which you want to express gratitude," shares Post Senning. "It is a good way to build a relationship with someone so that they will want to sit for you next time you need them.”

    If you're working with a new sitter who is particularly good and you want to keep her, a tip may be a good way to show you appreciate their expertise and rapport with your children. Margaret recommends rounding up of the money you owe. For example, if her fee for the night is $36, round it up to $40.

  5. Caring for a Large Group of Children
    Most of the time, babysitters know in advance if they'll be watching a large group of children. If your kids’ cousins, friends or neighbors are going to be at your house, you may want to add a little extra to the hourly rate. (Use Care.com's Babysitter Calculator to determine a rate for the correct number of children.) Discuss the rates beforehand, or add a little extra to the payment at the end of the night. If more than five kids will be present, consider hiring an additional babysitter to make sure that everyone is properly supervised.

  6. Babysitting During the Holidays
    If you have a sitter who works for you regularly, it's common to give a tip during the holidays -- an average night's pay is common. Learn more by reading our Holiday Tipping Guide »

    If your sitter is also caring for your kids on or around a holiday (like Christmas or New Year's Eve), you should pay extra for the prime time slot.

Although it isn’t necessarily “normal” to tip your babysitter, it is an excellent way to show how much you appreciate them. Post Senning sums it up best: “You should tip anyone who performs a service for you. You tip the person who does your hair, it makes sense that you would tip the person who watches your children.” Learn how to be a Fair Care Employer.

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Have you ever given your sitter a tip? Tell us why in the comments section below.

Alaina Brandenburger is a freelance writer living in Denver. Her work can be found here.

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