Babysitting Wages: How much is too little?

by Lucky Red Hen on June 17, 2011

Wickedly Awesome Babysitter and Our Family

How does a parent find out how much to pay a babysitter in their area; it must be different for a family in New York vs. a family in a small town in Kansas, don’t you think?

A woman posed the question on Facebook recently for our area:
OP: What is the going rate these days, per child, per hour, for a babysitter?
Answer: ‎$7-8 per hour, although some people pay more. Many girls won’t tell you how much they charge; but if you don’t pay enough, they are never available. :)
OP: Thanks for the info.
Another: She is spot on!

The current Washington State minimum wage is $8.67 (federal is $7.25). Am I supposed to believe that we should be paying a 12-15 year old about the same or more than what an adult can get at a business? Perhaps it’s my frugal (i.e. broke) nature to be so *ahem* cheap, but I’ve been paying $4/hr for non-driving babysitters (12-15ish) and $5/hr for driving babysitters (16-18) and have had no problem with availability.

As a matter of fact, I’ve traded services for babysitting and haven’t paid out of pocket for a sitter in over six months. That’s not to say that people who watch my kids aren’t WORTH paying… just that we’ve been lucky to have people who love to come over and watch them.

A text conversation tonight with a preschool teacher:
Me: I want to have more babies just so you can preschool them :) (but I really don’t want to have babies)
Them: Hahaha. Well, if you ever do, I shall preschool them for free! Because you’re awesome and your offspring are awesome!
Me: Yesss (fist pump). But you’re worth $20/hr [this person has been paid to babysit for that much by other families]
Them: Just so you know, if I wasn’t already occupied, I would totally offer to babysit your kids… and for free!

Maybe the gal that says “but if you don’t pay enough, they are never available” has high maintenance children that nobody wants to babysit. Or maybe she adds housework on top of it. I hear some parents leave a list of things to do when the kids are asleep: laundry, dishes, vacuum, dusting, take out the garbage, clean the bathroom(s), etc. Yeah, if I had to do manual labor, then I’d be unavailable every time she called me to babysit.

Our babysitter’s get to watch two cool kids who can feed themselves, are polite, like to play video games (that the babysitter’s like to play) and can watch movies while eating/drinking our stuff after bedtime. We ask them to clean up meals (wipe the counter of crumbs, put the dishes in the sink, put away the food) but our kids are responsible for everything else they messed up while the sitter is here. Unless the teens have a school/church/friend function that keeps them from being available, they’d rather come to our house to hang out “babysitting” and make a few bucks than stay at home doing the same thing for nothing ;)

Comments section: Don’t be mad at me for being frugal and don’t compare teenager babysitting rates with professional service prices.


Sarah L. June 17, 2011 at 6:27 pm

We haven’t hired anyone for a long time, but last I heard, rates around here were about $7 an hour, which doesn’t leave much for going on an actual date. I was paid $1.50 per hour back when I was babysitting.

Tee June 17, 2011 at 6:33 pm

We pay about $4 or $5 an hour. I feel guilty if we pay under $20, but if they only watched her for a couple hours, then I’m not going to pay that much! It’s insane to pay full minimum wage. Plus, if we are forking out cash to go on a date, there’s no way we can afford to pay that much! Granted, our daughter is in bed by 8:00, so generally there is only 1 hour that they are even really “babysitting”. Other than that, they get to chill and read/watch tv/play video games. It’s not that challenging,. And I would never leave a list of chores! That’s ridiculous!

Little Mama June 17, 2011 at 6:36 pm

Luckily we have grandparents in town now, the ULTIMATE in free babysitting, but beforehand we paid our girl $6/hr to watch just one. She drove though. And we usually upped it a smidge, like if she sat for 3 hours, we’d just give her the flat $20 and be done with it. But I have heard of people here that pay between $12-15/hr for the 16-18 y.o. sitters and I can’t even fathom! For $15/hr, you better be bathing the baby, doing the dishes, running the vacuum, dusting and scooping poop out back! I mean seriously, that isn’t far from what I made as a certified anesthesia technician at a children’s hospital! And like you, I’m not saying my kids aren’t worth it, but how can you even afford to be out more than 2 hours at those prices?

Bek June 17, 2011 at 6:52 pm

We live in an expensive area. Baby sitting services charge 20-25$ depending on how many kids you have. Our amazing , professional, special needs nanny gets 25$ an hour. Teenagers get 14$-17& an hour. Its brutal. We have little kids, but even for 2 older kids it is off the charts.

Heather June 17, 2011 at 7:34 pm

$4/hr is a deal! I would pay you $4/hr to come babysit me. I need some supervision every once in awhile. :)

Lisa June 17, 2011 at 8:30 pm

I was just talking to my hubby about this! We’re lucky enough to have parents who LOVE to watch our adorable child, but we would like to give them a break sometimes and weren’t even sure how much we would end up paying.

Andrea June 18, 2011 at 4:45 am

We pay $5 an hour for 2 kids and $6 per hour for all 3. We live in the boonies though so our range is probably on the low side . . .

Lisa Stookey June 18, 2011 at 4:11 pm

I’m so out-of-the-loop with this. I haven’t babysat {for money} in over 10 years and I don’t have kids that need babysitting yet {still have a few months for that}.

But I can not believe that people are still paying/charging as little as $5 an hour for babysitters, when that’s what I got paid to babysit WELL over 15-20 years ago.

When I was teaching private school about 11 years ago, I had a family who really wanted me to babysit for their children one night. I politely declined {not because I don’t love their kids, but because I was past the babysitting stage in life} … they wanted me so bad, they paid my hourly salary I got paid to teach ($26.00 at the time) … but I KNOW that’s an exception!

I also, honestly believe that it depends on the babysitters age.

Carina June 20, 2011 at 6:08 am

$4-5/hour. But we live in a cheap area. I’m not paying minimum wage.

Erin July 14, 2011 at 1:25 pm

I just happened by this blog and thought this was an interesting post! I think whatever people want to pay is fine.

I never babysat (never wanted to!!!) and my husband was kind of outraged that I paid our 15 yr old babysitter $45 for 3 hours of sitting…but I thought because I didn’t like babysitting that that’s what it would take for me to babysit…lol

Cute blog!!

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