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What's the right baby-sitter pay?

Here are the factors to consider when deciding what the baby sitter is worth.

By MSN Money Partner Mar 9, 2012 8:59AM

This post comes from Len Penzo at partner blog Len Penzo dot Com.


Len Penzo dot Com on MSN MoneyWith our kids now 12 and 14, we no longer have to worry about baby sitters.


To be honest, the Honeybee and I rarely used baby sitters at all, even when the kids were younger, because we were fortunate enough to have two sets of grandparents living relatively nearby who would usually fill in for us.


The few times we didhire a baby sitter -- a very nice teenage girl who lived up the street —-- I was always a bit befuddled regarding the appropriate rate of pay.


The last thing I wanted to do was underpay her. After all, everyone hates underpaid jobs. Then again, after spending a hundred bucks or more after a night on the town, I really didn't want to overpay her either.


I usually ended up paying our baby sitter $10 an hour plus all the food and beverages she could consume from our pantry and refrigerator while we were gone.


The reason I bring this up is because my highly entrepreneurial daughter, Nina, has recently expressed an interest in baby-sitting some of the younger kids in our neighborhood as a way to supplement the income generated by her car wash, wallet and miniature clay charm businesses.


So how much do baby sitters get paid nowadays? (Post continues below.)

I did a bit of research, and it turns out the answer is: It depends.


According to baby-sitting website, baby sitters typically earn somewhere between $5 and $20 per hour. However, there are multiple factors to consider when it comes to determining how much to pay them.

  • The age and experience of the baby sitter. Sitters between 13 and 15 should get as low as half the pay of an older or more experienced baby sitter.
  • The age of the kids. Add $2 an hour to their base pay for newborns and $1 an hour for toddlers.
  • The number of kids. Add $1 to $2 an hour for each additional child.
  • The cost of living. Big-city baby sitters should expect to earn more than their country cousins.
  • If additional duties are required. Add $1 to $2 an hour if the sitter is required to drive the kids someplace, cook meals or perform other tasks.
  • Time of day. Because there is less effort involved, evening rates can be a bit lower if the kids will be sleeping while the baby sitter is on duty.

As a quick example, let's say you hired a 15-year-old baby sitter to watch your two toddlers so you and your honey can enjoy a quiet dinner and a movie. Let's also assume a base rate of $20 an hour for an older, experienced baby sitter.

$20-per-hour base rate + $1-per-hour premium for the first toddler + $1-per-hour premium for the second toddler + $2 per hour for one extra child = $24 an hour

But since our sitter is younger, we can cut that rate in half (to $12 per hour). Who knows? Assuming your kids would be sleeping most of the time, you might even be able to shave off a bit more of the rate. Or not.


Anyway, I think you get the idea. I know I do now. I just wish I had these guidelines when my kids were younger.


At least I can now rest a little bit easier knowing that I wasn't underpaying our neighborhood baby sitter.


More on Len Penzo dot Com and MSN Money:

Mar 9, 2012 5:33PM
Gee, back in the 70s when I was baby sitting the going rate was a buck an hour. No premium for toddlers or "extra" kids. Just a buck an hour. In a big city suburb. Adjusted for inflation that's, what, 3 maybe 4 bucks an hour. Certainly not $24 an hour, which is more than I make now with a graduate degree at a real (albeit low paying, public sector) job.
Mar 9, 2012 6:22PM
I am a Nurse and some Nurses do not make $24.00 an hour. That is crazy.
Mar 9, 2012 6:05PM

wow.  $24 an hour, if full time, would be a $50,000 job (with no taxes - I don't see the IRS going after babysitters).  While not a big salary in NYC or LA, it is a decent salary most everywhere else. 


Who needs to go to college, just line up a bunch of babysitting jobs.

Mar 9, 2012 6:34PM
I hired a sitter off of and many of those sitter's asked around $7-$15 an hour.  I work nights and I pay $10 an hour during waking hours and $5 an hour while sleeping. She can eat/drink as she pleases and I have Wi-fi so she can do her homework.  My kids are 5, 7, and 9.  She seems happy, it doesn't interfere with her college schedule, and my friends think I pay plenty.  I live in a medium size city in Wisconsin with 2 universities and a tech school.  I think $24 is too much.  I hardly make more than that as an RN.
Mar 9, 2012 6:22PM
You are out of your mind!!! $20 an hour plus for a babysitter? My wife and I make around $25 an hour each and pay our sitter $2 bucks an hour per kid regardless of the time of day. They can eat all they want, use the computer, watch cable, and not have to work at a fast food place. They are in a safe and clean environment, their parents know exactly where they are and who they are with, and our kids are well behaved and in bed by 8pm. I guess this author makes 7 figures a year and wipes his behind with $100 bills if he can afford $20 an hour. I wonder if his pool boy, yard boy, and dog walker all drive Bentley's too!
Mar 9, 2012 6:34PM
That is outrageous!!!!  $24 an hour!!!!  No way I rarely use babysitters but when I do its $6 per hour with $1 extra for my second, fi she happens not to be sleeping over at someones house.  My babysiiter are the 8tha nd 9th graders and are happy to get $40 or $45 for the night!!!  Plus they love my kids.   they are certified in CPR and have taken babysitter classes.  Oh by the way I live in So. CAlifornia!~
Mar 9, 2012 6:20PM
$24 an hour.... LOL not a chance. I can send my kids to evening daycare every day of the month for what it would cost for 1 night a week at your rates. $10 for the first hour then $5 per hour after that. Add a buck or 2 for any extra kids under 4 and subtract a dollar for every kid over 10 and then round up at the end of the night. Dinner and a movie (3-4 hours) for 2 kids should run about $20-30 depending on when the kids go to bed. 
Mar 9, 2012 6:12PM
I live in Iowa.  I pay our next door neighbor girl, that attends college $5 an hour with free range to eat/drink whatever she wants from our house.  She generally plays with our daughter for about 2 hours before she puts her to bed.  Our nights away from our daughter are rare and when they occur its normally for just 5-6 hours at a time.  Remember, I live in Iowa and there isn't that much to do! 
Mar 9, 2012 5:55PM
We pay $20 base pay for anything up to 4 hours and 5 bucks an hour after that, plus any food or drinks she can find inthe kitchen.
Mar 9, 2012 6:47PM
I have always paid our babysitter minimum wage - currently $7.25.  She could work a lot harder at fast food or stay at my house with cable, WiFi, and all the food and sodas.
Mar 9, 2012 7:37PM
i have 7 brothers and 2 sisters, all younger that i used to babysit. i never got paid anything. if anyone wants to pay me $24 an hour i'm available.
Mar 9, 2012 7:55PM
hmmm I have seven that rate it would cost me 400 buck to get a sitter and go out  to eat....Heck for 6 bucks you can rent a movie and eat popcorn with the kids..
Mar 9, 2012 7:33PM

The YMCA only charges $25 for a Saturday night fron 5pm-10pm!

Mar 9, 2012 6:13PM
Wow, a starting teacher with 32 students for 7.5 hours a day plus supervision duties and clubs makes about 24 dollars an hour.  Not that babysitters aren't worth that, but it puts into perspective how little we pay our teachers, huh?
Mar 9, 2012 6:30PM
I babysat all though high school for 5 families.  My wage was $6 + $1 per a kid (and in one case an $1 for the great dane) an hour.  With a minimum of $20.  So if I was there for 2 hours - $20.  If I was there 4 hours $28.  It worked out for everyone involved and I think people have to realize that the person who hired could be doing other things.  When someone gave me $4 and hour, I did not really want to do anything extra, except make sure the kids were safe.

Mar 11, 2012 3:22PM

$24 in my little suburban corner of the world is crazy.  Seriously, what kind my job can my high school or college-age baby sitters score that would pay them that much?  I pay $8.  They could be working foodservice or retail making maybe $10 an hour.  I don't take out taxes, don't make them wear a uniform, feed them pizza, and let them have free reign of the house for the evening.  Seems like a good deal to me.


While experience may matter when selecting a full time care giver for my children, for the person that's just going to hang out with them once a month or so while I work late or go on a date, it's really not so critical.  In fact, I would consider it a good opportunity for my high school neighbor to gain some valuable experience for the modest sum of $8 an hour.

Mar 9, 2012 7:46PM
It also really varies geographically. You mentioned, in passing, how you would pay more if you live in a big city vs suburbs or the country. Here in Charlotte, most of my friends pay $10-$12 an hour for a teenager, for an evening. I know that my friends in Washington DC, New York, and Boston pay quite a bit more, and my friends out west pay quite a bit less. Just a thought.
Mar 9, 2012 8:27PM

This CLOWN LEN PENZO is an idiot.

First of all Read some of his other blogs.

They're all just stupid  and who calls their

wife the HONEYBEE  anymore?

I am a stay at home dad,  I Do the shopping,

the bill paying, the coupon cutting, the Dr. appt. Setting.

the yard work,the laundry, ETC. How does he get the BIG BUCKS

Writing this slop for MSN?? I'd rather read Karen Datkos crap

on MSN.


Mar 9, 2012 8:06PM

Actually, depends on age and experience.


The wife, 52 has raised our two, then spent about 10 years being a Nanny to two different families with a total of 6 kids.  She also taught Special Ed and the 4th grade.  There is a little thing called experience.  It does matter to some.


Now, many will scrimp on paying thinking 10-15 is to much, but hey, it is your kids.  You can have someone who has raised 10 kids or some 14 year old that spends the night texting who knows what or to whom. 


It is laughable at some of the parents that think my wife is outrageous asking for 14 an hour.  No problem, go get missy down the street to work for 6 an hour and good luck with that when she freaks out when the child gets a cut, or god forbid chokes on something. 


Lastly, both of my kids attended classes and were certified babysitters from the local hospital.  They got a cert that said they were at least trained in basic first aid and care of babies and young children.


In fact, the wife is sitting at this very moment, for ahh, 14 and hour.


Mar 9, 2012 5:34PM

Reduce the BASE rate for age and then add the full amount for additional charges.  Sounds like you did screw over the neighbor girl who babysat for you.

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