What Is the Difference Between a Babysitter and a Nanny?

Do you need a nanny or a babysitter? Learn what type of sitter you need to hire to best fit your care needs.

From live-in nannies to mother’s helpers, there are endless types of care providers posted on caregiving websites (like Care.com!). It can be confusing for both families looking to hire a sitter and child care providers looking for jobs. Here’s a look at how we would define the roles.

Watch the video and read the tips below to learn the differences between nannies, part-time nannies and babysitters.

But no matter what name you choose, one thing remains the same — child care providers have the great responsibility of supervising children in a way that is healthy and safe. And hopefully everyone has fun in the process.

 

What Is a Babysitter?

Generally, babysitters care for children of any age who are in need of supervision for a few short hours. Most sitters will work either by specific occasion or on a regular schedule (after-school babysitters, date night babysitters and weekend babysitters are common). Their main tasks are watching the kids, playing with them and maybe putting them to bed. Many babysitters are trained in basic skills like CPR and first aid. They usually work for hourly rates, but may be paid extra if they agree to handle additional services such as cooking, tutoring and light housekeeping. It’s important to discuss expectations for the job during the interview process.

What Is a Nanny?

nanny is someone who is fully invested in a child’s development and well-being. Generally, a nanny will care for children full-time while both parents work. It’s a nanny’s responsibility to create daily schedules and engage in activities to ensure healthy mental, physical and emotional growth in the children they care for. Most nannies will be tasked with preparing meals, helping with household work (dishes, laundry, etc.), driving the children to and from activities and assisting with homework.

Many nannies have their own place of residence (and are called live-out nannies), but there are some nannies who live with the family (called live-in nannies or au pairs). To learn more, read All About Au Pairs.

Typically, nannies have more responsibilities and duties than a babysitter does (and, because of that, a bigger salary). In addition to basic safety classes, they may have had advanced child care training or many years of nanny experience. Often, nannies earn a weekly salary (based on hourly expectations), have taxes deducted from their paychecks and work year-round for a family. It’s expected that nannies receive at least two weeks of paid vacation and earn holiday pay as well.

Nannies often become part of the family, bonding with the children in a different way than parents do. Sure, nothing can replace Mom or Dad, but children will bond with that special someone who sings with them at music class, teaches them to use the potty and drives them to and from soccer practice. Some families consider their nannies co-parents or partners in parenting, getting info from their nannies on their child’s development and interests or asking their nannies to help their kids cope with losses and stress.

Because the job of a nanny is much like that of a parent, most families and nannies work together to create a nanny contract that lays out all terms and conditions of the job, including vacation time, sick days and much more. To learn more about what’s included in nanny contracts, read Do You Need a Nanny Contract?

What Is a Part-Time Nanny?

Some families need a mix of babysitter and nanny. They need someone to care for their kids a few hours a week (maybe only Monday through Wednesday or only after school). But they want a child care provider who will be more involved that a typical babysitter. A part-time nanny is usually the answer. This option can provide the best of both worlds for families trying to juggle responsibilities.