Nanny vs Babysitter

There are many options for childcare these days. How you decide which option to go with is a personal choice based on a variety of factors. Let’s look specifically at a nanny vs babysitter. What are the key differences? Which is a better fit? It all depends on when and what you need the childcare for and any other responsibilities you want the caretaker to manage.

What is a Nanny?

A nanny is someone you hire to take care of your child, who becomes an employee of your family. Most nannies work a full-time job (and often sign a nanny contract) for the family, with consistent and regular hours. They are responsible for your child’s well-being and follow through on the responsibilities you discuss with them. In addition, the longer a nanny works for the family, the more involved they become in the child’s growth and development.

What are some of the job responsibilities of a nanny?

  • Care for the child
  • Do minor household chores and light housekeeping
  • Take the child to/from school or other activities
  • Plan & prepare meals
  • Organize activities
  • Keep them safe
  • Potty training
  • Additional responsibilities, as discussed with the parent


The average nanny hourly rate nationwide is $23.61/hour, with the average nanny salary being $49,000. A typical payment schedule for a full-time nanny is to get paid either weekly or biweekly and receive paid time off, such as sick time and vacation time. 

Pros of having a nanny

There are a lot of advantages to a nanny. A nanny can save you time, as there is typically no drop-off/pick-up time to factor into your day. There tends to be some flexibility; the nanny may be able to come early or stay late depending on your needs (there will be additional compensation for any extra hours worked over what your nanny contract specifies). Your child receives one-on-one attention. Another plus is in many cases a deep bond develops, and the nanny becomes a part of your family. Additionally, there are options like nanny shares, where two families share one nanny, reducing costs and allowing for social interaction between children.

Cons of having a nanny

One downside of having a nanny is there may be a lack of socialization with other children. Another factor to consider is the hourly rate of a nanny. As a household employee, a nanny typically charges a higher rate than a babysitter, depending on your location. Additionally, nannies usually receive benefits such as paid sick time and vacation time, which can add to the overall cost.

For those seeking highly qualified care, the cost can increase if you opt for a professional nanny with advanced childcare training or a college degree in childhood education. Furthermore, families employing a nanny must comply with employment laws, including paying Social Security taxes if the nanny’s income exceeds the nanny tax threshold.

What is a Babysitter (also called a sitter)?

A babysitter is a caretaker who watches over your child when you are away. Often, a babysitter can be younger and may watch your child for shorter periods. In general, the sitter doesn’t have a consistent schedule; instead, the babysitter is scheduled on an as-needed basis when a parent needs help with their children at a specific date and time.

What are some of the job responsibilities of a babysitter?

  • Watch over children
  • Make simple meals
  • Play with them
  • Put children to bed
  • Clean up the kids’ toys and/or have the kids do it
  • Keep children safe


In 2024, the average babysitter hourly rate nationwide is $23.61/hour. A babysitter is typically paid an hourly rate.

Pros of having a babysitter

An advantage of hiring a babysitter vs a nanny is that the sitter is usually less expensive. If you are looking for just a few hours a week or special occasions, a babysitter is a great fit. Babysitters are also ideal for date nights, taking children on outings, or other short-term childcare needs, making them a flexible childcare option. Neighborhood babysitters can be convenient, offering localized and often familiar care for your children. 

Cons of having a babysitter

One potential downside of a sitter versus a nanny is that they may not get to know your child as well. In other words, the more consistent hours a childcare provider works with your child, the bigger the opportunity they have to bond with your child. Babysitters who work fewer hours on an as-needed basis might not develop the same level of familiarity or bond with your child. Moreover, the title of babysitter might not always convey the same level of professionalism or commitment as a nanny, which can be important for some families.

Overview Nanny vs Babysitter

Nanny vs Babysitter Nanny Babysitter
Hourly Rate / Annual Salary $49,000/year $23.61/hour
Payment Schedule Paid weekly or biweekly
Receives paid sick days and paid time off
Hourly, paid when they leave your house after each babysitting job
Work Schedule Consistent/regular hours, often during the day May work a few hours at a time, often date nights
Pros Creates a close bond with your child, has set hours and compensation Less expensive, can be used for one-off occasions, no contract needed
Relationship Personal, many families form a close relationship with their nanny Transactional, unless you have set days a week that the sitter is watching your children.

Childcare Center vs. In-Home Care

While nannies and babysitters provide in-home care, another childcare option to consider is a childcare center. These centers offer structured childcare services and opportunities for socialization with other children, which can be beneficial for child development. However, they might not offer the same level of personalized care that a dedicated nanny or babysitter can provide.

The Decision: Choosing a care provider – Nanny vs Babysitter

Choosing a childcare provider is very important, and no answer is right or wrong. Whatever your choice, do your due diligence — have a set of interview questions ready, do a background check, contact references, and read reviews if they are available. Don’t forget to make sure your expectations are clear. Lastly, trust yourself to make the best choice for your family.

Related: Is a Babysitter Agency Right for You?

Need help finding a part-time and full-time babysitter or nanny? Search here at UrbanSitter. 

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