One of the questions parents are always asking each other is, “how much should I be spending on my babysitter or nanny?” The answer is so tough. The last thing I want to do is underpay someone with the important job of taking care of my kids, but I know that rates depends on the experience of the sitter, whether it’s a part-time high school student or an experience, trained full-time nanny, and of course, where we live.

Related: 21 inspired ideas when you’ve only got a two-hour date night

So I talked to the folks at UrbanSitter who recently conducted a national childcare survey of 20,000 parents.

There’s some amazing stats from the results to help you see how you stack up against parents around the country — and what you could be doing better or differently.

Top photo Thiago Cerqueira for Unsplash


-The most expensive city for babysitters pays more than $5 an hour more than the least expensive city. If you’re asking what to pay your sitter, it really depends where you live. Not too surprisingly, it was San Francisco at the top, where $17.34/hour for one child is the average rate. Denver parents are paying the least for babysitters in the nation, at $12.22/hour for one child.

New Yorkers pay around $17 for one child, Boston parents $16, LA parents just over $15, and Chicago around $14 just for perspective. Smaller towns obviously pay less but will be impacted by the nearest large city.

-Add about $2.50 an hour for each extra child. If you look at those rates, you’ll see in San Francisco, it goes up to an average of $19.79/hour for two kids, and $22.21 for three. But please don’t pay anyone $22.21 — at least round to $22 or $23.

There’s not a huge difference in salary between a nanny and a sitter. Now this is according to the survey, but I was surprised by this. Nannies only make about $2/hour more than a part-time sitter; though I doubt that refers to teens from your neighborhood. Seems more likely to be vetted, experienced sitters from services.

Parents are willing to pay sitters more on holidays. If parents manage to score a sitter on Valentine’s Day or Christmas Eve, they say that they’re willing to pay more for the privilege. I agree completely! That’s someone giving up their holiday, too.

-Only 16% of families tip sitters on every job. I realized I’m guilty of omitting tips which seem to me like something you do only if you’re using a service, not hiring someone local and directly. What do you do? Do you tip if you get home later than expected? Do you up the rate when they filled in for you at the last minute? Do you round up to say, $100 if it the total was $86? That’s what 27% of parents say they do.

It may be time to give a long-term sitter a raise. Nanny rates have gone up 10% since a year ago. If you’ve been paying $17/hour, consider bumping it up to $19.

70% of parents are spending $20,000 or more a year on nannies. It makes sense when you consider that working parents who require a more full-time situation could easily spend $500/week or way more. And the top 1%? You guessed it: They’re paying $100,000 or more on nannies. It sounds exorbitant, but it is reassuring to think that experienced, full-time childcare providers are earning a real liveable salary – at least if that’s the rate for one nanny, and not three combined!

Annual price for nannies and sitters each year | UrbanSitter national survey

Then there were some other types of stats about babysitters, beyond what to pay them, that kind of blew my mind.

-A majority of parents believe stay-at-home parents “need” a sitter more than working parents do. Ouch. I wonder if the 71% who said yes were passing judgment that working parents should be home every single night with their kids; or simply stating that stay-at-home parents need don’t have that essential adults-only break built-into their day-to-day routines. (Still, I wonder which ages this applies to, because once the kids are in school…you get to turn off Elmo while you manage the household!)

-Only 47% of parents check references with a new sitter. I wonder if that’s because we trust our placing agencies or that we’re finding our sitters through word-of-mouth from friends and neighbors? I mean, I certainly hope no one is just meeting a random person in a park then asking them to come over for 5 hours alone with the kids, right?

Only 30% of parents set rules about tech for their sitters. This isn’t just about whether a sitter should be texting while the kids are in the bath. (No!)  If you want more help, check out Kristen’s helpful post on creating a social media policy for your childcare provider which talks about rules about situations like taking and sharing photos of the kids.

You leave emergency numbers and talk about fire safety rules, right? Well this is just as important now. Welcome to 2017, parents!

Head over to the UrbanSitter 2017 National Childcare Survey to see the more results about what to pay babysitters, and other info to help you make better decisions — or feel good about the ones we already make. 

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