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How Much Should I Pay a Babysitter?

Published September 14, 2010        by Sarah

Finding the right babysitter can be a time-consuming process; when you’ve found her, hold on to her.  Paying her a fair wage is essential in ensuring she’s willing and able to come and sit for you.  But what is a fair wage?  Do you take into account the age of the babysitter?  Do you pay per child?  Do you pay more or less for older children?  How much do you pay for overnights or extended periods?  What if your kid is just hard to handle?  Let’s answer some of your questions so you’re prepared for the next time.

If you have found a babysitter from a site like Sitters.com or SitterCity.com, there is a good chance that her rates are posted.  She may charge $8 per hour during the day, $12 an hour after 8:00pm, and $15 an hour for holidays.  Or she may charge $200 for a weekend.  Whatever the case, it is a straightforward process because this is a professional service.

But what if you are paying your neighbor to watch your baby or a teenager from your church to watch your three kids?  What if your babysitter doesn’t have set rates?  Every area will have different rates, so it is a good idea to ask other parents in the neighborhood what they pay their babysitter.  Ask a few people, and this will give you a good idea of the going rate.  In general, though, you can expect to pay anywhere from $5 to $15 per hour.

You can use SitterCity’s rate calculator to help you decide.  You simply enter in your zip code, the number of children you need to be watched, the preferred age of the sitter, and her years of experience.  If, for instance, you live in the 22801 area code (Harrisonburg, Virginia), have two children, and want a babysitter age 18 to 21 with under three years of experience, you will find the average cost is $10.75 per hour.

The rates, of course, depend on your child or children, their ages, their level of need, what baby accessories they'll deal with, how much you want the babysitter to do (dinner, baby bath time, bedtime or just supervising play time?)  Here are some factors that influence pay:

  • Experience. An experience daycare provider may charge $20 or more per hour for her services.  A 16 year who is starting her first job can be had for $7 to $9 an hour.  Typically, those with over five years of experience can expect to earn at least $2 to $3 per hour more.
  • The number of children. Add $1 to $2 for each additional child.
  • Age of the children. If the sitter will be caring for a baby, add another $1 or $2 per hour because it is a more labor-intensive job.
  • What you are asking her to do. Do you want her to pick them up from school, drop them at soccer practice, bring them home, and fix them dinner?  Do you want her to come over after supper to play with the kids and then put them to bed?  The rates will be different.  For extra duties, like driving the children, fixing dinner, bathing, or helping with homework, you can add on $1 to $2 per hour.
  • Holidays or last-minute calls. If you are going out for New Year’s Eve, you’re asking your babysitter to stay in.  Expect to pay time and a half, at least, for the evening. If you call and want the babysitter to come in quickly, you should tack on another few dollars per hour for the inconvenience.
  • If your child is “willful,” “active,” or any other euphemism for hard-to-handle, you’ll need to pay more.  A good babysitter is hard to find, and you want to keep her, especially if your child has earned a reputation as being difficult.  Discuss this with her and get her locked into a rate.

If you want to keep your sitter, be considerate of her.  Always be prompt with your payments, and always pay them for all of the time they have worked.  If you trust her with your children, she is well worth the price.