Nanny vs. Babysitter

Two children huddled together writing in a notebook

What is the difference between a nanny and a babysitter?

  • Nannies and babysitters work different schedules
  • Nannies are considered household employees while babysitters are considered contract workers
  • Nannies get paid (salary or hourly wages) can differ from babysitters (paid a fixed rate for the time worked)
  • Nannies can be more involved in the children’s development, while babysitters are focused on care and well-being

Finding the right child care for your family can be hard, especially when the options aren’t straightforward. Some of the most common questions are: What’s a nanny? What’s a babysitter? What’s the difference between them?

Some families and child care providers use the terms “nanny” and “babysitter” interchangeably, which can make things even more confusing. The differences between nannies and babysitters can also vary from family to family. Before we get into the differences, there are similarities between the two. Both nannies and babysitters care for kids at home, and unlike daycares, both only care for only a few at a time.

Nannies are hired to care for your kids on consistent schedules while babysitters are hired on an as-needed, short-term basis, usually for a short period of time. This consistency helps nannies become a part of the family and support in the development of the kids they care for.

Nannies can have responsibilities that go beyond child care, such as getting the kids to and from places like appointments, planning fun activities, and helping the kids learn. To do this effectively, nannies should be aware of the children’s emotional needs, interests, and disinterests.

Babysitters tend to focus on the safety of kids rather than the child’s life development, as they have a less consistent role in their life. With less regular hours, one babysitter can have a handful of families that may call on them at any given time. They often work during the evenings, after school hours, and date nights.

What’s a Nanny?


  • Work on a regular schedule whether it’s part-time (less than 32 hours/week) or full-time (more than 32 hours/week)
  • Sometimes live with the families that they care for; this is called a live-in nanny
  • Can be considered a household employee. This means that families can have additional tax responsibilities
  • Can be paid a salary or hourly wage. The average nanny hourly wage in the US is about $18; this can vary depending on several factors
  • Can receive vacation and holiday pay and other benefits

If you’re looking for more affordable nanny options, you can learn more about setting up a nanny share.

What’s a Babysitter?


  • Provide child care "as-needed" or “on-call”
  • Can be considered a contract worker that’s responsible for their own taxes
  • Are paid only for hours or days worked
  • Earn on average hourly cost for babysitters between $16-17/hour caring for one child. The rates increase to between $19-22/hour when caring for more kids

At the end of the day, the most important thing is that you and the one taking care of your little ones are on the same page about the job expectations and the compensation attached to it.

If a nanny suits your needs, then you're in the right place! Nanny Lane helps you to find nannies in your area.

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