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How Much Should You Pay a Babysitter?

Written by Nickel - 284 Comments

My wife and I have recently (finally!) started using a babysitter somewhat regularly such that we can get some time to ourselves. With that as a backdrop, I thought it would be interesting to hear how much you guys are paying your babysitters (or how much you’re getting paid if you earn extra money as a babysitter).

I’ll go first…

We have four kids between the ages of 3-10 and we’ve been paying $10/hour. Our babysitter is a friend of the family, very responsible, and just short of high school. From what I can tell, we’re paying somewhat more than the going rate in our area, but we also have more kids than most, so I think it balances out.

What about you? How how much do you pay your babysitter?

Published on September 5th, 2008
Modified on January 2nd, 2009 - 284 Comments
Filed under: Miscellany

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284 Responses to “How Much Should You Pay a Babysitter?”

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  1. 1
    tcstone Says:

    We pay $10 for 2 kids (2 and 6 months). Our babysitter is an adult who works in the nursery at our church.

  2. 2
    Greg Says:

    With 3 kids aged 6, 4 and 2 we were paying $8/hour to a recent high school graduate who could drive herself and was great with the kids. We just added #4 and I can expect $10/h will be the going rate once we get comfortable enough to go out on our own again.

    I’d say the price is right if you’re comfortable with the baby sitter. We’ve tried others that charged less but they wouldn’t pick up the toys/games after the kids went to bed or we’d get stories of them sitting on the phone the whole night…

  3. 3
    Ron@TheWisdomJournal Says:

    Zero. My oldest daughter is 15!

    She and her younger sister DO babysit and frequently earn between $7 and $10 per hour. Not a bad gig if you can get it.

  4. 4
    financefixer Says:

    I got paid $10/hr for a 10 month old and 10.50 an hour for a 2 year old and 6 month old. I was a freshman in college at the time, but it was a nice-ish neighborhood in DC. Many of my friends that babysat in the area made closer to $12 for one child. I think it definitely depends on where you live – in my case it was a high cost of living area. I think if the babysitter is happy with the money, that’s all that matters. Especially since she is so young, her parents would also step in if they felt she was being cheated – so in your case, I think $10 is more than enough.

  5. 5
    Blaine Moore Says:

    Wow, $10/hr?

    I don’t have kids and haven’t babysat for probably 12-15 years, but I used to charge $15-$18 an hour. Well, usually it was “this is how much it will cost you tonight” and most of the people didn’t do the math to figure out how much they were paying, but still.

    Maybe it was just because all the kids I babysat for liked me.

  6. 6
    Scott Says:

    Up until a couple of weeks ago, we were getting freebies from Grandma and my sister-in-law, but we recently hired one of the girls from daycare (she’s in college now). After some research on local message boards, we found that $10/hr seemed fair, and figured I would round up to the nearest $20 bill. She got $60 for 5 1/2 hours.

  7. 7
    ben Says:

    I pay my nanny $11.90 an hour (42 hrs a week) for one kid. She’s been with us for nearly 3 years.

    On the unlikely event that we need the local teenager we give her $10 an hour.

  8. 8
    hoagie Says:

    I got roughly 8.50 an hour babysitting two boys (ages 9 and 11) this summer.

  9. 9
    dawnf Says:

    We are stuck since we live far away from family & baby sitters are scarce here. I have 3 kids 13,9,and almost 3.
    For a quick errand I will put my 13 yr old in charge of the 3 yr old but to go out for an evening I still prefer an adult person. I pay $10 for first child and $2 for each additional child. When I had only 2 and a neighborhood teenager babysit we paid him $10/hr for 2. My theory is until they are all old enough to tell me what went on while I was gone (if anything did) then an adult is the best recourse for me or a neighboring highschooler whose parent is around in case of problems…

  10. 10
    David Says:

    In Los Angeles, my wife got $15 an hour for the first kid, and an additional $5 for each kid. Here, the going rate is $12 an hour. My friends in SF pay $15-$20 depending on the sitter.

  11. 11
    saltinesgirl Says:

    We live in Seattle and pay the going rate of $15/hour for an adult (25+) to watch our 6 month old.

    This is not the teenager down the street. This is someone that can drive, knows CPR and isn’t on the phone/computer the entire time.

  12. 12
    Frantichomecook Says:

    Get this. Our daughters’ piano teacher wants the my oldest (11) to watch her 2 year old while she’s there giving lessons for 4 hours each week. Know what she offered to pay? $1 an hour!

    To answer the question, I usually pay $8-10 hour here in Ohio when we hire a teen sitter but our girls are older and pretty easy to watch.

  13. 13
    ToughMoneyLove Says:

    You couldn’t afford to pay me enough to watch 4 kids under 10.

    Seriously, when our 3 boys were of babysitting age, we hired a team of two sitters (friends). This worked much better because it reduced babysitter stress. It was actually more affordable because we didn’t need to bribe a single sitter with hazardous duty pay. (Watching our 3 boys by yourself was definitely hazardous duty.)

  14. 14
    Geoff Says:

    Depends on the age. Under 9 months or so, about $16-20. Older is a bit cheaper. My wife gets $45 for 3 hours or less, and about $14-15 an hour after for 2 kids. This is actually cheap. She gets $20 an hour for 2 kids at another location. She is CPR trained and was a pre-school teacher, etc. so you pay for what you get.

    This is in Boston.

  15. 15
    David Says:

    “She is CPR trained and was a pre-school teacher, etc. so you pay for what you get.”

    My wife too, and because she has these skills she wouldnt hire anyone who didnt…

  16. 16
    Getz Says:

    Wow, babysitters make big money where you all are from. I live in rural WV and babysitters don’t make half of what some of you do. Then again, we don’t have nearly as high of taxes, cost of living, etc. here either.

  17. 17
    Dylan Says:

    We’ve paid $10/hr for our 2-year old twins, but have only used sitters a couple of times.

  18. 18
    Kimberley Says:

    $10-$12/hr for a college student; $15/hr if more than 2 kids. And I pay $3/hr for the 10 year old next door to come over and play with the kids (a toddler and a pre-schooler) while I work in a back room. — California, San Bernardino County

  19. 19
    Kelli Says:

    I have 3 kids -$10-15 per hour is the going rate depending on age and experience and how last minute you book the sitter.

  20. 20
    noelle Says:

    About 5-8 years ago when I was in middle school I babysat for my 3 cousins. I was payed a dollar an hour per kid. Most nights I made about 20$. Looking back, my aunt and uncle were getting a deal, but I suppose that’s how family works. My cousins were 4 and 5 years younger than me, so it was never really that difficult.

  21. 21
    Jen Says:

    How do any of you ever go out? We have a babysitting budget of $20 a month. We use a lot of family, but when we have a sitter, it is usually a 13 or 14 year old from our neighborhood, who could call home and have mom or dad help out in an emergency. We always go out somewhere close so we can be home in less than 20 minutes if necessary. We pay $5 an hour for the first hour and $3 an hour for each additional hour and usually round up. I always tell my sitters that their job is just to play with the kids and make sure they aren’t injured. I’m not paying them to cook or clean or anything else, so I feel it’s pretty fair. As an aside: my DH thinks our kids are so awesome, people should pay us to come and hang out with them.

  22. 22
    Heather Says:

    We live in DC. Sitters around here expect way too much. Frankly I don’t know how any of you ever go out.

    We found a nice girl at church who is 15. We pay her $7.00/hour for four kids, 7, 5, 3, and 1 (all boys!). We pay her the same no matter if they are awake or asleep or if she only has two (she’s home schooled and babysits some during the day when our other two are at school). Plus our kids go to bed at 7:30ish and we usually leave around 6:00 so her job is a piece of a cake!

    It is outrageous what some sitters charge. For those rates I expect a curriculum taught, the house spotless and meals provided!

  23. 23
    budgets are sexy Says:

    All i know is, i used to make $5/hour if i were LUCKY! and the amount of kids, ages, time – none of that mattered. Then again, that was a good 10 years ago…i heard inflation has been pretty terrible though lately ;)

  24. 24
    Todd A Says:

    I should stop being so cheap that we almost never hire a babysitter. But, my wife doesn’t really want to spend the money either. I suppose it’s so hard to get family-at-home time, that we are just glad for those nights.

  25. 25
    Mike Says:

    We pay $10 for two kids (4 and 18 months). Our sitter is a school teacher in her late 20’s.

  26. 26
    Chelsey Says:

    As a 22-year-old frequent babysitter, I get paid around $10/hr, regardless of the number of kids. I’ve never told anyone what I charge – that’s just what they pay me. I think that’s fair, because I always clean up after the kids, do dirty dishes that are in the sink, and I hope, while it has never happened, that in an emergency I would have the presence of mind to do the right thing. I think for an older babysitter, like in college or past college, $10 is reasonable, because they’re more responsible and also probably have a lot better things they could be doing. You’re paying them for their time, not just their effort ;-)

  27. 27
    MM Says:

    We have a single 2-year-old and when we go out on our own, we pay our sitter $20 + $5/hour – so 2 hours is $30, 4 is $40, so on. Not sure how we started this method – I think I was trying to bribe her to sit for an hour once and we realized this was a good approach for both of us! But the average is generally $10/hour. The sitter is 18, graduated from High School this May and is studying to be a midwife, so slightly more skilled/mature than other teens/college students. We’re in metro area of Texas, I bet you would pay less in a more rural/suburban area?

  28. 28
    Stacy Says:

    We live 40 minutes south of Boston & use 3 different girls in our neighborhood. They are all great and my 2 year old daughter loves them! We pay them $7 an hour and have no complaints either way!

  29. 29
    Meg Says:

    I depends what you mean by “babysitter.” If you are getting the preteen down the street to come hang out at your house for a couple of hours while your kid(s) sleep, $5 an hour is sufficient in most places (no more than $20 total for the night). If however you are paying somebody you don’t know, somebody over 18, then you may need to sweeten the pot a bit. No less than $20 but probably no more than $50, regardless of exact number of hours or kids.

    When I was in college (in Dallas), my sorority kept a “babysitting list” and local alumni moms were always calling trying to set up a sitter. When you live in an area where babysitters are relatively scarce, you pay what you have to. It can take a lot for a 20 year old to give up a Friday night to take care of somebody else’s kids!

  30. 30
    deepali Says:

    Wow, some people are cheap. In a MAJOR metropolitan area – $12/hr minimum for 1 kid. $1 for each additional kid. Older kids (ie, not going to bed by 8pm or so) goes up to $15/hr (with the $1 addition). It’s not a lot – think about what you actually have to do to take care of your own child (feeding, changing diapers, picking up toys, etc). I do that and the kid ain’t mine. Not to mention the sick kids, the messy kids, the not-quite-potty-trained kids, the crying kids, the bratty spoiled kids… And these really are your kids.
    If you live somewhere smaller, then the rates are definitely lower.

    Don’t get me wrong, kids are great. But you do have to understand that not everyone loves your kids like you do. You have to pay a fair rate for dealing with all of this. You could get away with paying a teenager less, but you also get what you pay for.

    I suspect the cheap folks are also poor tippers…

  31. 31
    Jaynee Says:

    I remember the good old days when I babysat. I got $2/hr and thought I was overpaid! *lol*

    We live in a small town outside of Charlotte, NC. For our two kids (4 & 5 yrs old) we pay $7-8/hour for the easy jobs (when the kids are only awake for an hour before she puts them to bed and then hangs out the rest of the night). For the more difficult jobs (ones in which she watches the kids during the day) we pay $9-10 an hour. When she housesits which includes letting our dog outside a couple times a day, feeding the cats, bringing in mail, and taking out trash, we pay $15/day.

  32. 32
    Amber Says:

    I generally only sit for friends but sometimes I work for my church for special meetings outside of the regular services.

    When I sit for my friends with 3 boys under the age of 5 they pay me roughly $10. I basically let them dictate what they pay me since I figure I’m doing them a favor. Sometimes they can’t pay me and that’s ok. They need time out and I’m not in it for the money.

    Other friends with a 1 yo are new parents and they don’t know what to charge. The first time I sat for them I told them no charge as it was a birthday gift for one of them. The second I told them $5/hr. Again, I’m not in it for the money but to help my friends out.

    Besides generally half if not most of my time is spent when the kids are sleeping and I’m just in the house making sure everything’s ok.

    When I work for my church I get $10/hr. There’s a varying number of kids and I’m always with at least one other person. We have some ratio of kids to adults, there’s always two adults even with just one kid but at some point they add a third, etc.

  33. 33
    Danielle Says:

    I live outside of Minneapolis and my friends pay $6 an hour for teen babysitters, and they pay the highest rate of anyone I know for their one child.

    I think its interesting that people in the larger cities pay up to $15 an hour… I wonder how that compares to full time nannies in those same cities?

  34. 34
    ZenSpend Says:

    We pay 5 dollars an hour to our neighborhood babysitters that are in junior high. My neighborhood gives out scholarships to go thorough the American Red Cross Babysitting course. However I have a minuim of 10 dollar policy I want to make sure it is worth there time and that they remember I pay well.
    My Mom does most of the babysitter for free so it is very rare that we need an outside babysitter.

  35. 35
    Dawn Says:

    For irregular babysitting, I pay my younger sister (she’s in college) $8 per hour to watch my 4.5 year old, and we round it up to the nearest $10. When I hire someone else, I usually pay $10 per hour, rounded up to the nearest hour. I imagine when I start leaving the baby too, those rates will increase to $10+ and $15 accordingly. We live in suburban Philadelphia and that’s the going rate. I can pay my sister less only because she frequently comes over to help out (that is, I’m home), sometimes just because she needs money!

    I pay my part time nanny, who watches the kids in my house, does light housework, etc., $16.50 per hour. It is worth every penny to get a little bit of uninterrupted time to get my work done.

  36. 36
    Jennifer Says:

    Wow! I have to say that I am shocked at how much many of you are paying. I pay $10 an hour for a teen to babysit my 3 children, and I feel that is overly generous (not cheap!). When did babysitting become so much higher than minimum wage? When I was a teen I also babysat for $1-$2 an hour, which even then was far less than minimum wage.

  37. 37
    zacduschel Says:

    im trying to find out how much to charge to babysit around my community, there are like 10 out of 50 houses with kids. but the people across from me go out alot, and they have 3 kids, 2-5-9

    im 14 and im kinda wondering how much to charge? i was thinking around like 8-12/hour

  38. 38
    Mom Says:

    I am totally shocked. I need a sitter badly so I can go to my job and earn about $12.30/hr. I am college educated. How did sitters, and I mean high school kids earning some spending money, get us so over a barrel. I applied for a second job that required a resume and portfolio for MINIMUM WAGE!!! My 15 yr old neighbor wants $10/hr. She, or I for that matter couldn’t apply anywhere and make that. This is insanity. Has anyone heard of ’salary commensurate with experience and qualifications’! All a sitter needs to do for my 10 and 6 year old is supervise a little. My 10 yr old can make easy mac in the microwave. For $10/hr I want my drycleaning picked up, the house vacuumed, dishes done, my driveway sealed, and the gutters cleaned. LOL
    I made $10 a night when I sat. That was 1 4 yr old for 4 hours. Maybe I should quit my job and be a babysitter?!

  39. 39
    Kacie Says:

    When I was younger, my dad would hire out my babysitting services to neighbors. Usually, they’d say something like, “We need someone to watch our kids,” and he’d jump in and say, “Kacie will do it!!” without even consulting me. Lovely.

    Anyway, I never got paid much. It usually worked out to $2 or $3 per hour, no matter how many kids. I usually sat for kids who were already potty-trained, so that was a plus. The parents would tell me I could eat whatever I wanted and sometimes left out yummy snacks for me, so I guess that was part of the compensation.

    I’m pregnant with my firstborn so I don’t know when I’ll be hiring a babysitter (not for awhile, likely) but especially while he’s little and unable to speak, I’d want to leave him with someone who knows what they’re doing with babies. If that means paying someone $10-$15 an hour, that’s what I’ll do.

  40. 40
    Donna Freedman Says:

    Gosh, I didn’t know the “going rate” in Seattle is $15 an hour! I’ve been charging between $10 and $12 an hour, depending on the number of kids. I don’t turn on the television, either.
    I really *do* get a kick out of my young charges, though. It’s like timeshare grandchildren.
    You’re lucky to find someone who doesn’t mind four under 10. When my daughter was about 14, the folks across the street paid her $5 an hour to watch four kids under age FIVE…! She’s 30 now and still wakes up screaming. ;-)

  41. 41
    Megan Says:

    I’m a second-year law student and babysat all the way through college and my first year of law school (total of the last 5 years) in Charleston, SC. I charge $10 an hour for 1-2 kids, $11 for 3-4 kids, and $12 for 5-6 kids. The families I’ve been a regular sitter for have all had 2 kids so my rate didn’t change for them if one of the kids happened to have a friend over that day. The parents also pay for me to do whatever activities I’m taking the kids to–the water park, the movies, the museum, etc. I typically have a 3-hr. minimum and my payment gets rounded up to the nearest half-hour increment (5.25 hours = $55).

    When I was a nanny (only one summer), I got paid absolute garbage–it worked out to lower than minmum wage–but I was only 19 then. (And to top it off the kids were AWFUL!)

    A family that I sat for had a nanny (in addition to me coming once a week). She was also a college student, and she was paid a flat rate of $400 a week for 45 hours a week since there was more downtime spread throughout the whole day.

  42. 42
    Andy Says:

    $10 per hour for 1 kid. You are getting a great deal if for 4 kids. I would make sure they get a good tip!

  43. 43
    Jahnveyve Says:

    I have seven children (9yrs, 8yrs, 6yrs, 5yrs, 5yrs, 3yrs, and 11months) and my husband and I pay our babysitter $15 an hour.
    Yet again we have 7 children.
    So i’d say 4 kids at $10 an hour is perfect.

  44. 44
    Doucement Says:

    We have four children under the age of 7. We get out maybe once every three to four months, if that. When we do use a babysitter, we prefer a 16 yr old, #2 of 8 children young woman who the kids love. We haven’t left the “baby” with her yet. With the younger three (6, 5, & 2), we pay about $8/hr. I would assume we’d pay roughly the same when we leave her with all four.

    You couldn’t pay me enough to watch/clean up after them, but that’s why I’m their mom. I do it for free. We live in a small community in a mid-Central state.

  45. 45
    tricia Says:

    Really…the ‘going rate’ in Seattle is $15? I have an 9 and 7 year old. Tonight is the first night a sitter (new) charged me $15/hr. Surprising since I have never come home to such a messy home. (Dishes in sink, counters sticky, floors a mess, sitter in front of tv.) I normally pay $12 or $13/hr. We usually don’t stay out more than 3 to 4 hours and I round the amount up to the nearest $5. My sitters are usually highschool or college age. One sitter is a bit older and she gets $13 rounded up. I almost always feed kids first, have them showered and ready for bed and make it as easy as possible. Tonight was a shock…$15 an hour AND a huge mess. Won’t be calling her again.

  46. 46
    tricia Says:

    oops, meant to add that I live in a neighborhood as close as you can get to downtown Seattle. I don’t know anyone who pays $15/hr for 2 children for a sitter. (Perhaps a nanny, but not a sitter.)

  47. 47
    RR Says:

    I’ve never heard of $15 as the “going rate” in Seattle. We usually pay $8-10/hour for our two kids, 8 and 5. They’ve usually had dinner when the sitter arrives.

    I don’t expect housework to be done, but the sitter should clean up if they have a snack and help the kids tidy any toys they played with. Once kids are asleep, TV, texting, homework etc are all ok with me.

  48. 48
    Brittany Says:

    I am A babysitter and I am Red cross certified And I took a Babysitters First aid and I am certified in child and Infant CPR and I charge 4.50 An hour for one kid and I Raise the price by .50 cents for each Additanal Child

  49. 49
    sb Says:

    I pay the babysitters in my neighborhood about $4-5 an hour. They range in age from 12-16. Not bad money for that age group. However, looking at what some of you are paying, I think I’m going to start babysitting myself and make some real money!

  50. 50
    Jenn Says:

    I’m 32 and was babysitting an infant in my apartmeny building and getting $13 an hour — in NYC. They had a second baby and didn’t give me a raise.

    Actually, they were kinda crappy — cancelling at the last minute and not paying me, pushing the time back five minutes before I was to ride down in the elevator. They totally took advantage of me.

    As a college-educated professional babysitting on the side in Manhattan for two little ones, I should have been getting at least $18 an hour.

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