How much to pay a babysitter

03/04/2014 2:19 PM

08/08/2014 10:22 AM

Finding a new babysitter is stressful enough, with combing through applicants, interviews and background checks. Then there’s figuring out how to pay one.

“It’s nerve-wracking to hand the child over to somebody and make sure (the way you’re bringing up the child) remains consistent,” said Melissa Marchwick, executive vice president of brand marketing and communications at Sittercity, a national online matchmaker for sitters, nannies and parents.

Setting a competitive rate is important for quality care, but don’t pay too much, Marchwick says. The standard hourly rate varies, depending on the region of the country, from $10.25 to $16 an hour. Nannies, who usually care for children on a weekly basis, are generally paid a flat rate per day or given additional benefits.

Sittercity has a rate tool based on region and location. The standard hourly sitter rate for two children in New York, which is about $15 for sitters older than 21, is lower than the same rate in San Francisco ($16) and higher than in Columbus, Ohio ($10.33). Rates are slightly less for sitters younger than 21.

Rates can be difficult to decide on when many factors are involved, but consider Marchwick’s advice.

A sitter’s educational background can be worth a premium. “Say someone is a prenatal nurse – for a new mom, that is golden,” Marchwick said. Sitters are often expected to have CPR certification and first-aid training, she added. But a background in early childhood education or nursing, for instance, adds value. Consider paying about 50 cents to a dollar more per hour.

“Additional responsibilities can require a bit more (money) but not significantly,” Marchwick said. If your sitter isn’t earning a premium rate for experience, consider a higher rate for extra work, such as picking up the kids from school, feeding them, helping with homework and doing housework.

Extra children and children’s ages can also add to the rate. Younger children add a bit more to the cost because the older ones are generally more self-sufficient, Marchwick said. It can be up to a dollar an hour more for an extra child.

Overnight stays and certain holidays, like New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day, are more costly, sometimes by 50 percent on nights when sitters are more in demand. “Especially if you’re going to be out really late, look at paying a flat rate, so you’re not stuck with an hourly rate through breakfast time,” Marchwick said.

For overnights, much of a sitter’s time is usually spent sleeping, so $100 is a good flat fee, depending on the hour she arrives and leaves, she added. Even if you’re just looking for a sitter for an evening, sufficient background checks and interviews with new sitters are still important, not only to establish relationships for future sitting, but for “the safety of your kids,” Marchwick said.

For more tips and advice, visit Sittercity.com/babysitters/babysitter-tips or womenshealth.gov (type “babysitting” in the search field).

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