How Much Does it Cost to Pay a Babysitter in 2017?

03/21/2017 03:02 pm ET

If you’re a parent who relies on babysitters, it will come as no surprise to you that the babysitter market is red hot. Qualified, reliable sitters are in high demand, and parents are paying higher rates than ever before for their services. To gauge the going rate for a babysitter, UrbanSitter conducted its annual survey of families, this year collecting data from more than 20,000 parents nationwide.

Here are the findings on the latest parent perspectives and practices around hiring childcare:

Rates are Rising and are Dependent on Location, Experience and Requirements

Babysitter rates are climbing. The average U.S. hourly babysitter rate for one child is $15.20, though expect higher if you live in a metropolitan area. For the third year in a row, San Francisco families pay the most expensive rates—the average hourly rate for one child is $17.34. New Yorkers follow close behind, paying about $16.89 for a babysitter for one child. If you’re hoping to pay less, consider heading to Denver, the city with the least expensive rates of all cities polled. Denver families pay their sitters about $12.22 per hour for one child.

Have more than one child? The rates climb. For instance up to $19.79 for two kids and $22.21 for three kids in San Francisco.

The nanny market is also in high demand this year. More than half of families view finding a nanny highly competitive—if not downright cutthroat—and rates reflect the demand. The average hourly rate for a nanny works out to be about $16.45 for one child, which is a 10 percent jump from last year.

Whether you’re hiring a babysitter or a nanny, you’ll typically pay more for experience, training and certifications, and additional requirements you have for the job, such as running carpool, cooking dinner or doing basic housework.

Date Night is Alive and Well

Nearly one third of parents surveyed hire a sitter at least once a week. We depend on sitters for many reasons—including back-up care, to run errands or for extra help—though the number one reason parents hire a babysitter is for date night. Nearly two-thirds see the hire as a luxury, rather than a necessity. While every parent deserves time out of the house, the majority of families say stay-at-home parents are most deserving of the break.

Parents are Willing to Pay for Excellent Care for Kids

More than half of parents surveyed spend at least $1,000 a year on babysitters. Only a scant 5 percent limit their babysitter hire to just once a year. What’s more, even though rates climb each year, parents are still willing to pay more for holiday, special skills and to snag very popular sitters.

When it comes to needing to hire a babysitter, desperate times sometimes call for more money. While most families claim they’ve never done anything crazy to snag a sitter, parents confess to paying more to lure their favorite sitter when they need her most. “I offered to double the rate,’’ says one Mom. Another confessed to flying her nanny from Texas to California when they needed her!

Families Do their Homework and Set High Expectations

The majority of parents say the most important factor when hiring a sitter is to feel comfortable with the hire. More than 90 percent of parents say they require references, either some or all of the time when hiring a new sitter, and just over half say background checks are also very important.

Once they’re on the job, parents set clear-cut rules and expect sitters to enforce their guidelines for safety, discipline, nutrition, and the modern day hot button—screen time. One-third of parents also set rules and regulations for their sitter or nanny’s cell phone and social media use on the job, such as only using the device while a child is napping and not posting location information or photos of children.

As busy parents we rely on our trusted sitters for the care they provide to our children and the balance they help bring to our families. Without babysitters, most families say life would be hard or they would be downright miserable, so it important to know how to compensate them so they’ll keep coming back. For more information on going rates of babysitters in your area, see our infographic here: https://blog.urbansitter.com/2017-childcare-survey.

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