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How Much Should You Pay a Babysitter?

Aaron Crowe
Written by Aaron Crowe

Determining a pay rate for a babysitter can be difficult. One one hand, it’s basically keeping a kid entertained for a few hours — which is something parents do for hours each day and don’t get paid for it.

On the other hand, watching a child is an enormous responsibility for the care of the parents’ most precious possession that should be limitless in its value.

But if you’re going to put a dollar value on it, around $15 per hour is the high end, and the low end is about $11, according to the 2014 National Childcare Rate Survey by UrbanSitter, a website that helps find babysitters.

Babysitter rates are highest in New York City, the survey found, at an average of $15.34 for watching one child. That makes sense, with New York being the most expensive city in the U.S. to live in with high housing, food and other costs.

Cheapest babysitters in Denver

The survey looked at nine metro areas in the United States. Here are those nine most expensive metro areas to hire a babysitter in, with the hourly cost being for a babysitter for one child:

  1. New York City: $15.34
  2. San Francisco: $14.99
  3. Washington, D.C., Baltimore: $13.83
  4. Boston: $13.64
  5. Los Angeles: $13.53
  6. Seattle: $12.80
  7. Chicago: $11.91
  8. San Diego: $11.11
  9. Denver $10.85

Hiring a babysitter is an expense that can add up. The survey found that 26% of parents say they hire a babysitter once a week or more, and 47% say they spend more than $1,000 on babysitters in a year.

In deciding how much to tip their babysitter, nearly 70% said they always tip the babysitter, while 27% don’t tip. Most people, 43%, tip by rounding up, and 12% give a tip of 10 to 15%.

To earn a big tip, UrbanSitter suggests that babysitters clean the house, wash the dishes, stay later than scheduled, bring a craft or activity, or check in frequently.

Other factors

Here are some factors to consider when determining a pay rate:

  • Location: If you live in a large metropolitan area, even Denver, you should expect to pay more because the cost of living is more there than in the suburbs.
  • Babysitter’s age: Younger sitters usually have less experience and area paid less than someone older. If you have the same sitter for years, increase their pay as their experience grows.
  • Experience: Does your sitter know CPR and watches big groups of children? That should cost more.
  • More kids to watch: For watching more than one child, expect to pay $2 to $5 more per hour for each additional kid.
  • Time of day: If you’re gone all day and the kids are awake, expect to pay more than you would for a nighttime watch when the kids will be put to bed and the babysitter can watch TV.
  • Driving your kids around: If your sitter has a car and is driving your children to errands, such as to a soccer game or other appointment, pay a few dollars more per hour.
  • Cooking: If you have a pizza ready to bake, don’t pay more. But if the sitter is preparing a meal, add $10 or so. Or at least leave money so they can order a pizza delivered.
  • Driving to your home: If the sitter drives to your house, add in a few dollars for gas. Or if you can’t pick them up, pay for a cab.

How much do you pay your babysitter and what do you determine the rate on? Tell us in the comments section below.

About the author

Aaron Crowe

Aaron Crowe

Aaron Crowe is a freelance journalist in the Bay Area who specializes in personal finance. He has been a writer and editor at newspapers and websites, including AOL's personal finance site, WiseBread, Bankrate, LearnVest, AARP and other sites. Follow him on Twitter at @aaroncrowe, or at his website,

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