September 01, 2011 | By: Laurie Campbell

What's a babysitter worth?

Among parents, questions abound these days about what to pay babysitters, especially if babysitting is frequently required within a household. Answers are available. There are norms providing guidelines. But before I get to them, I’d like to offer a few comments about the subject in general.

With babysitting, it’s not just a matter of getting what you pay for, it’s a matter of getting what you pay for from someone you can trust. After all, we’re talking about the safety and care of your kids here, so questions about babysitting fees are relevant only after you’ve determined to the best of your ability that your babysitter will do a good job of looking after your little ones.

Truth is, pricey services from qualified caregivers do not guarantee kids will be well looked after.

We’ve all heard the horror stories about caregivers who are closet sadists, or who are just mean-spirited. We’ve seen the news reports about monsters caught on hidden cameras. They jostle babies violently in cradles, they are petty tyrants, they are neglectful, or they are mean and irresponsible in ways that hardly reflect the upright or cheery demeanors they present when meeting and greeting the parents.

So when considering what you are willing to pay a babysitter, always initially consider the worth of the individual from the point of view of trust. This applies as much to qualified caregivers as it does to 14-year-old Jill Smith from down the street. Aside from meeting with babysitters to get to know them, check references and speak to others who are familiar with the babysitter’s behaviour and skills.

Then start thinking about babysitting dollars and cents.

So where to begin? Well, let’s start with the previously mentioned Jill Smith, since she and others her age or older are the kind of candidates most parents rely on for babysitting.

Nowadays for Jill, a general rule of thumb is that she be paid $10 an hour for babysitting. Of course, if she takes the initiative to offer her services for less, you may have yourself a deal depending on her skills and reliability. But if, after having tucked away the wee ones, your $6.00-an-hour sitter invites friends over for parties and your liquor cabinet is ransacked, you may want to rethink the worth of your savings.

In terms of qualified caregivers, hourly fees generally range from $15.00 to $20.00.  But additional fees may come into play depending on what you expect from your sitter. The extent of the caregiver’s cooking, cleaning or special care-giving responsibilities may call for a higher hourly rate. With caregivers, minimum rates also often apply. It’s not unusual for caregivers with five or more years experience to charge a little extra on fees.

Meanwhile, if your caregiver is responsible for handing more than one child, expect to pay $1.50 an hour extra for each additional child. For special duties including what I’ve touched on – as well as things like transporting kids by car, grocery shopping, laundry, what have you – expect to pay $1.00 to $2.00 an hour more over your caregiver’s basic rate.

As to what you pay Jill for the extra responsibilities you may place on her, that’s entirely negotiable. Just try to be fair.

Now, I have a few last words of advice. Fees for babysitting services ought to be part of any home budget where wee ones are running around. Even if you’ve only got one little one under your roof and you don’t expect to be getting out much without him or her in tow, you should at least put something aside for unexpected occasions when babysitting may be required.

Of course, if you’re a gregarious soul who expects to get about and about a lot, you better be darn sure you plan ahead for your babysitting needs.

Ten to $20.00 dollars or more an hour can add up fast.


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