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How Much to Pay a Babysitter – Determining Average Per Hour Rates


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I consider myself to be incredibly lucky that I live just two doors away from my in-laws. In other words, I’m two doors away from free babysitting – most of the time. But when I do need to bring in a neighborhood sitter, I often forget the logistics of payment. Do I pay per kid? Does the age of the babysitter matter?

Like most of life’s great questions, the answer is: It depends. You’ll need to consider the going rate in your neighborhood, the number of kids you have, and any special services you require. In order to get the best care, you definitely want to pay your babysitter a good rate. On the other hand, you don’t want to end up overpaying, or you could find yourself stuck at home without the budget to hire someone to help out. Finding the proper balance is key.

Paying Your Babysitter

There are several considerations you must take when working out a fair rate. Keep in mind that these tips are meant for non-live-in sitters only. When you have a nanny or au pair who actually lives in your home and consumes your food, the per hour rate goes down since you’re providing other services, as well as a job.

However, if you’re like me and only need a sitter occasionally, you can follow these guidelines to work out the best price:

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1. Age and Number of Kids
A babysitter caring for a three-year-old and an infant has a considerably more difficult job than someone who is caring for a five-year-old. Therefore, you need to adjust your pay depending on the number of children, as well as the ages.

For instance, if you would pay $6 an hour for a preschooler, you’ll need to double that amount if you have a preschooler and a second-grader. Also, pay more if you have an infant at home – with all the feeding, bathing, entertaining, and crying, your babysitter has a bigger job to do. However, if you just need someone in the house while your kids sleep, you can pay a lower rate.

2. Caregiver Experience
Are you insistent on finding a nanny with five years of professional experience? Get ready to pay more. Caregivers learn tips, tricks, and often have special certifications when they’ve been in the business for a long period of time. Hiring a college-aged sitter with five years of experience will cost more than hiring the high schooler down the street.

It’s up to you who you’d rather hire – if it’s a one-time thing, or your young ones are fairly self-sufficient, a neighborhood teen might be your best bet. But if you’re looking for someone to care for your infant, experience is sometimes necessary.

Caregiver Experience Necessary

3. Geographical Location
Where you live definitely plays a part in how much you should pay your caregiver. If you live in an area where the cost of living is typically higher, caregivers expect to receive more.

If you’re unsure about how your area’s cost of living affects what you should pay, ask friends who live nearby. By finding out what other families pay their caregivers, you can gauge whether your wage offering is below, above, or equal to the area norm.

You can also check online want ads to see what other families are paying, or what local caregivers are asking for per hour. Also, check out the babysitter hourly pay calculator on

4. Special Requirements
If you insist that your babysitter is certified in CPR and first aid, expect to pay more. Any time you have special requirements, tack on a couple extra bucks an hour. For instance, asking your babysitter to tidy up and do the dishes is outside the realm of caregiving, which means you need to add more to the hourly fee. Looking for a sitter with a driver’s license for carpooling and taking your kids to piano lessons can also mean a higher price. Always consider all the “extras” you require, and make sure you compensate fairly.

5. Regular Service
I’m happy to pay a couple of dollars more if it means that my kids are my sitter’s first priority. When you find a great caregiver, you’ll find that other parents start circling like sharks. Make sure you pay well enough to keep your sitter from jumping ship and regularly sitting for another family. Your sitter has no obligation to you and your family, so making the job easier and more rewarding is the best way to solidify your employer/employee relationship.

Final Word

After all of my research. I ended up finding a neighborhood sitter who fit our needs perfectly. I’m happy with the amount I pay, and so is my caregiver. By finding the balance between what I wanted to pay and what was fair according to the factors, I now have a sitter who I can count on in a pinch, and that’s definitely worth every penny.

How do you figure out how to pay your babysitter or nanny?

Jacqueline Curtis writes about edtech, finance, marketing, and small business strategy. With over 14 years of copywriting experience, she's created content and scripting for organizations such as GE, Walgreens, Overstock, and MasterCard. She lives in Utah with her husband, three kids, and an overzealous springer spaniel named Penelope.