Think You’re Paying Your Baby Sitter Enough? Think Again

Find out the going rate for a sitter in your area. (Warning: You might experience some sticker shock.)

If you’re a parent of young children, you’re probably keenly aware that good baby sitters are hard to find. So if you get a good one, you want to make sure you’re paying them enough.

I used to be paid about $1 or $2 per hour to watch multiple children. Sure, this was a couple of decades ago, but even then, it was a ridiculously small amount of money.

Those days are long gone. According to Care.com, baby sitters today make an average of $13.50 per hour, which represents a 28 percent increase in sitter pay in the last five years. In cities with a high cost of living, like San Francisco, Boston and New York, the pay is even greater. For instance, sitters in the Golden Gate city average $16.65 per hour.

Wow. If I had to pay that, I think I’d be spending all my nights at home with my kids or calling grandma to baby-sit.

If you have more than one child who needs to be watched, you should be prepared to pay $2 to $5 more an hour, Care.com said.

It’s essential that you pay your sitter an adequate wage, especially if you want them to return, the site advises.

“When you hire a baby sitter, pay her fairly to help start a long, trusting relationship — and to make sure she’s not lured away by a higher-paying neighbor,” Care.com says.

To get a fix on rates in your area, check out Care.com’s baby sitter pay calculator, plug in your ZIP code, number of children who need care, how many years of experience you want in a sitter and how many hours you’re likely to pay for.

In my area, the calculator determined the going rate for watching two children for less than five hours each week is $14.50 per hour. Full disclosure: I pay about $10 to $12 per hour for a sitter, which I thought was more than adequate, especially considering my son is often in bed before the sitter arrives. If my sitter picks up the house and puts away the toys before I get home, I pay her a little more.

Of course, finding the right caregiver for your kids is about more than price. In fact, a recent Care.com survey revealed that just 3 percent of parents said that how much a sitter costs is the most important factor to consider when hiring one. Nearly half of parents said it’s vital that the kids love the sitter.

How much do you pay your baby sitter and how do you cultivate loyalty? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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