Babysitting Rates: How Much Should You Pay Your Sitter?

Published December 1, 2021
babysitter playing with toddler girl

You searched, interviewed, and struck gold by finding a great babysitter. The next thing to consider is how much you will need to pay them. Babysitting rates depend on several factors, all of which you will want to consider when deciding on the going rate.

What Is the Average Babysitting Rate?

infographic Babysitting Rates

The average hourly rate for a babysitter varies widely. Babysitting rates differ depending on which state you live in, and many other factors also drive the rate up. The 2021 national average rate for babysitting services is:

  • $18.36/hour for one child
  • $21.23/hour for two children

An example of rates varying by states: the average hourly rate for babysitting in Alabama is $13.95. In Philadelphia, the average hourly rate was slightly more at $15.19. In big cities such as San Francisco, there's an even higher rate of pay for sitters: $21.17 per hour for a single child.

Paying a Sitter Adds Up

If you pay a babysitter to hang with the kiddos once in a while, as you enjoy some adult time away from home, the cost of services is likely not going to break the bank. However, if your family requires babysitting services frequently, you will soon discover that covering the cost of childcare in your home adds up quickly.

A recent study conducted by Urbansitter.com discovered that 28 percent of American families spend between $30,000 and $75,000 on childcare in a single year. 79 percent of families reported to the study that childcare was one of the biggest expenses for their family. It sounds like a staggering amount to shell out to a babysitter or nanny, but after you break down all that your sitter is providing you, it truly makes sense to pay them what they deserve.

Expect to Pay a Higher Babysitting Rate for Multiple Children

babysitter with three children

If you have multiple children in your family, you can expect to pay a babysitter a higher hourly wage. There is no hard-fast rule about what the hourly increase should be when paying a sitter to watch and entertain more than one child, but it is suggested that parents pay $1-$2 more per child, per hour. Examples are as follows:

  • A family in Alabama has two children. The average rate is $14.00, so with the additional child, the hourly rate would be $15.00 - $16.00.
  • A family in Philadelphia has three children. The average rate is $15.19, so with the additional two children, the hourly rate would be $17.19- $19.19.
  • A family in Washington has four children. The average rate is $18.00, so with the additional three children, the hourly rate would be $21.00 - $24.00.

Age Matters When Determining Babysitting Rates

The age of your babysitter: The age of your babysitter may matter less than other factors when it comes to their rate of pay. That said, there are some general guidelines to consider when determining payment and your sitter's age. You can choose to hire young teens to care for your brood, and you might be able to pay them less. They likely do not have expenses to pay out themselves if they still live with mom and dad. If your babysitter supports themselves and pays their bills, keep this in mind when you hand over your cash. If your sitter works for your family full-time, paying them a fair amount for the services they provide you is especially key. You will also want to pay a seasoned sitter with years of experience more than a sitter who is just starting out.

The ages of your children: Consider what you are asking your babysitter to do while caring for your kids. Are you asking them to play video games and ride bikes with your ten year-old and then hang out in the living room as the kid goes upstairs and does their homework? Or are you asking them to change diapers, make formula, pay attention to countless infant safety considerations and hold a crying infant for half of the day (maybe while watching and playing with other kids in the family)? Generally, you should pay your babysitter more if the kids in the family are very young. Little ones require lots of energy and attention, and your sitter should be compensated accordingly.

Do You Pay for Drive Time?

Parents don't often think about their babysitter's commute, but perhaps they should pay attention to a sitter's drive time. If your childcare provider is commuting to your home several times a week, you may want to factor in how much they spend on gas. You don't have to pay for ALL of their gas expenses, but it would be smart to cover some of it. Remember, if you have found the holy grail of babysitters, and they just so happen to live 45 minutes away, you want to do everything in your power to keep them in your employ. Good help is hard to come by, especially when it pertains to your precious kids! You never want to lose that help because the sitter is spending too much money on commuting.

Other Factors to Consider When Paying a Babysitter

babysitter reading to baby

Once you have scored your dream babysitter, determined the average rate of pay per hour in your area, and considered the number of kids your sitter will be watching and for how long, you will want to turn your attention to other factors that might influence the pay rate. Parents will want to increase the amount of money they pay their childcare provider for any other service requested. If you need any of the following services performed by your sitter, add extra dollars to the total.

Is Your Sitter Also Your Uber Driver?

Not really, but how much driving do you require your sitter to do in a day? Are they responsible for taking kids to and from school, playdates, and sports? Do you ask that they spend weekends or summer days traveling to museums, beaches, and parks? If you find yourself answering yes to many of these questions, then you will want to tack a dollar or two an hour onto the sitter's hourly rate.

What About Meal Prep?

Suppose your babysitter throws together the occasional peanut butter and jelly sandwich and orders pizza on nights you have to stay at the office late. In that case, it probably isn't necessary to pay them extra (but be sure to pick up that pizza tab)! Now, suppose you want special or specific meals and snacks prepared throughout the day, or you need your sitter to make dinner that you can come home to and eat with your family. Then yes, in those cases, that should cost you more since they are now doing two jobs while on the clock: caring for kids and cooking several large meals in a day.

Consider Pet Care

You do not have to pay your babysitter a whole other salary to pet-sit your pets, but if you have multiple animals that require feeding, grooming, and walking throughout the day, you should pay extra for those services. You can increase the hourly rate or ask your sitter if an additional $10 added to the daily total would be enough to cover the work they put into your pets. What you and your sitter decide should reflect the amount of work and time that was put into pet care during the duration of the time spent at your home.

Pay Extra for Household Chores

Do not take advantage of your sitter and ask them to tend to your daily chores unless you are going to compensate them accordingly. You can approach additional housekeeping services in a few different ways.

  • Pay per service. $10 for folding and sorting laundry, $5 for watering the plants, $10 for vacuuming and sweeping floors.
  • Bump up the hourly rate. If your sitter is at your home for five hours, and you request they unload the dishwasher, throw a load of laundry in and vacuum before you come home, increase the hourly rate to reflect the additional work. If you are unsure what to bump it to, think about what you would pay for the services alone, and how much time it would take, and divide that by the number of hours your sitter is working.
  • When in doubt, ask the sitter! Get their thoughts on how much more they would charge for the additional services you desire.

Tutoring Services Will Cost You

If your children are school-aged, they are probably going to be doing homework after school. If you need your sitter to work with them on their studies, increase the hourly pay. A private tutor makes about $25 per hour or more. If your children or child needs intense help with work or specialized attention in their studies, you should also pay the babysitter for the tutoring job. If kids merely need to be kept on task, occasionally aided and need homework glanced over, you can pay less than what you would pay a tutor, but you should still pay for the help they give your children.

Do You Have Children With Special Needs?

babysitter playing with special needs boy

If your child has special needs, consider this factor in your babysitter's daily pay. Are there feeding tubes to tend to, diapering needs, therapy play, or other tasks you need a sitter to perform? If your kid is severely allergic to something, you might ask your sitter to undergo anaphylaxis training and pay for the course. Once your babysitter is up to the task and commits to paying very close attention to your child's needs, offer them additional compensation to care for your child.

Increase Pay for Special Occasion Sitting

Your babysitter probably had plans to go out on New Year's Eve or the Fourth of July, just like you! If they agreed to stay with the kids while you enjoy a day or night out on a holiday, then bump up their pay.

Overnight Babysitting Requires Extra Compensation

You asked your sitter to stay with the kids overnight. Should you pay them for the hours they are sleeping? YES! They are on the clock, ready to attend to any need that arises. They get paid for each hour they are in your home. You can pay them their hourly rate through the night. An example would be, you need them from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. the next day. You have one child and require no additional services, so you can stick to $15/hour. They would make $180 for the job.

You can also have an understanding that the hourly rate is increased for overnight jobs to $25/hour, but you don't pay for the hours between midnight and 6 a.m.

Credentials That Increase the Cost of a Sitter

Consider what credentials your sitter has. Do they have specializations, certifications, or areas of expertise that make them an extra valuable childcare provider? Do those specifics require more pay? If your sitter has taken the time to load up their resume and is at the top of their game, they are going to be snatched up by someone in the blink of an eye. Pay them for the work they have put into being the best of the best. This might be a few extra dollars per hour for a CPR certification or up to $10/hour for a degree in early childhood development or education. Some areas of expertise and certifications to look for and pay for might be:

  • CPR
  • First Aid Basics
  • Infant Safety Courses
  • Water Safety Certification
  • Child Development or Early Learning Degree
  • Foreign language fluent - only applies if you request that they teach your child a second language (see above information regarding tutoring)

An Important Job Requires Substantial Pay

Your children are your everything, and when you leave them with a babysitter, you are trusting another person with all that is special to you. Pay the person responsible for keeping your children safe and happy a just wage. Make sure their payment reflects that you acknowledge their level of commitment, and the gratitude you feel for all the love and time they devote to your family.

Was this page useful?
Babysitting Rates: How Much Should You Pay Your Sitter?