My husband and I decided to hire a paid babysitter for the first time last week. We’d made it a surprisingly long time without one, so I wasn’t sure: How much should you pay your babysitter?
I turned to friends (including parents with kids of all ages and a few childcare pros) for advice. They gave me a lot of factors to consider, including:
- How many kids the sitter will be watching, and what ages
- The sitter’s age and experience level
- If the sitter helps with anything beyond childcare: cleaning, making dinner, homework help, etc.
- Whether the sitter can provide their own transportation to and from your home
- If the sitter will be driving your kids anywhere
- Your flexibility to work around the sitter’s scheduling needs
- The cost of living in your area
- Your history with the babysitter (and how crushed you’d be to lose him or her!)
Don’t worry, I’m getting to the hard numbers. But before I do, here’s the best advice I heard: talk to the sitter in advance and agree on a rate that works for both of you. Ask what he or she charges and be open to negotiation. The babysitter should never get an unpleasant surprise when you hand them their payment.
Middle Schooler and Mothers’ Helpers
It’s OK to pay younger, less experienced sitters a lower rate. (Raise your hand if your first job was babysitting the neighbor kids!) But remember, you’re still trusting this person to keep your child safe.
My friends cited $8–$10 per hour for a middle-school aged helper babysitting solo, and less ($4–$7 per hour) for a “mother’s helper” giving you a hand while you’re still around.
High School and College-Age Babysitters
$10 per hour came up frequently as an average rate for an older, more experienced babysitter (think an older high school or college student) able to drive themselves to and from the job. If you’ve got a bigger bunch (definitely three or more) or younger ones who can be a handful, consider $12–$14 per hour.
Looking for a lower rate? One of my friends pays $5 per hour if the sitter comes after all the kids are already in bed. They’re free to study or watch TV, so it’s an easy gig, and many will be OK accepting a reduced rate. (If your child unexpectedly wakes up with the stomach flu before you get home, you’ll want to pay your babysitter accordingly.)
These are skilled, top-notch caregivers who may have a degree in child care, provide child care as their primary form of employment, or work in a school. Expect to pay somewhere in the ballpark of $13–$18 per hour (plus extra per miles driven; check out the IRS standard mileage rates).
I’d love to hear from Kidlist readers. How much do you pay your babysitter? What factors do you take into consideration? Comment and let me know!