At some point, all parents need a break and have to find someone they trust to watch their children, if only for an evening. Babysitters and nannies will have standard rates, but what if a friend watches your child? Should you pay them as well, and how much?
The average hourly rate for a babysitter is $15, although this can vary based on your area, any special needs your child may have, how many children you have, and what duties the sitter is expected to perform. A friend may be reluctant to accept cash but you should always offer to pay for babysitting, even if it’s a family friend.
Keep reading for the etiquette for paying your friend to watch your kid(s), how to determine what payment is reasonable, and a couple of suggestions for alternatives.
How much should I pay my friend to babysit?
A good way to figure out what to pay is to look for statistics in your local area. Some major city areas will have an average. For example, the average in Boston, MA is $16.90/hour. If you are in the city, you will generally pay a little more than you would in a rural area.
You can also ask around to friends and family, or a social media page in your neighborhood.
The average national hourly rate for babysitting is between $15 and $25, but there are several factors involved when calculating a fair rate. Your friend is being kind and doing you a favor. No matter how you pay, be generous, and a good friend.
The only time you wouldn’t pay a friend to babysit is if it is a truly one-off emergency. In most cases, a couple of hours of babysitting during an emergency doesn’t require a conversation about payment.
Ages/Number of Children
The number of children and their ages is a big factor in determining a babysitter’s hourly rate.
An infant will usually cost more than a toddler or older child. If there are two or more children, you would pay more.
Level of Experience
If your friend doesn’t have a lot of experience with children, they would get paid a little less than someone with years of experience.
Accidents happen with children, and it is strongly recommended that you choose a babysitter that knows how to handle emergencies.
An infant and child CPR/First Aid Certification would be a good requirement. If your child has an epi-pen or medical device (inhaler, insulin pump, etc.), they should be trained in how to use it properly. You would consider paying them more if they have these certifications.
If your child has complex medical equipment, consider getting a nurse or home aid instead.
Let’s say you want to go out with your significant other for Valentine’s Day and your single friend is babysitting. Give them a treat and pay extra! It will definitely make them feel appreciated.
Provide sweets, make dinner, money to order takeout, but go above and beyond the normal rate if it is a holiday.
Sometimes, the babysitter would consider taking the child/children on a trip during the day like the zoo or museum. Provide funds for tickets, snacks, and any other expected expenses; never assume they will pay.
If your child is old enough for homework, you can ask your friend to help if you are comfortable. You should, however, be prepared to pay extra for their tutoring services.
Sometimes you will need a babysitter for vacation. If your friend can come, pay them for the day as well as room and board.
The average is between $120-$200 per day along with extra for miscellaneous expenses like food and shopping.
If your friend is babysitting overnight, consider paying double or compromise with a flat rate for the night. Make sure to discuss what hours this includes.
For example, if you pay $20/hour, overnight could be $40 or a flat $200 from 10 pm-6 am.
How much should I pay my friend to babysit my infant?
Infants require a lot of work and attention from the babysitter, and both you and your baby will benefit if your friend is also experienced caring for infants. Even if the babysitter is a friend, you should be prepared to compensate them fairly for the dedication of time and energy.
For example, if you would expect to pay $20/hour on average, $25 might be more reasonable for an infant. Make sure there is enough food, diapers, and entertainment for the baby.
Again, infant CPR/First Aid is strongly recommended as well.
How much should I pay my friend to babysit my toddler?
Toddlers can be a handful. Sometimes, they are still potty training. They can have random tantrums. They will even fight sleep and refuse to eat. Take this into consideration when paying your friend to babysit your toddler.
If the average pay is $15, give between $18-$20. Make sure to have plenty of activities to keep the child happy and out of mischief.
How much should I pay my friend to babysit multiple children?
Do a little bit of research and find out the average hourly rate for a babysitter in your area. This a good place to start when determining how much to pay your friend, but make sure to take your specific situation into account.
If the average rate is $15, that is a good amount to start with or to be adjusted at your discretion.
The general recommendation is $1-$3 more/hour for each additional child. For example, one child could be $16.50/hour, two children $18, three children $21, and so on.
What if my friend won’t accept payment?
Some friends won’t accept money because they feel weird about it or just want to do something nice. If you still want to show your appreciation, there are a few ways you can pay them back without making their kindness feel transactional.
A gift card is a great way to say thank you. It can be for movies, food, or their favorite store. A credit card gift card is a good choice and can be used for everything. The amount should be comparable to what you would have expected to give them as payment.
Providing dinner is always a good idea. Preparing a home-cooked meal shows great appreciation. Keep in mind their allergies or dietary requirements. You can also take them out to dinner as well. Baking a delicious dessert is good too.
Favors can be reciprocated for friends. If your friend has kids, offer to babysit for them. If they need help moving, use your vehicle to haul stuff. Help each other out.
Wine is a good thank you gift for any occasion.
If they are not a fan of wine, a six-pack of craft beer or a bag of quality coffee beans is a great substitute.
Take them out and treat them!
- Go to a theme park or movie with both families
- Spa day
- Dinner and a movie
- Shopping trip
Should I pay my friend to babysit?
Absolutely! Just because they are your friends, doesn’t mean they will just give you a freebie.
You should pay your friend the same as you would a regular babysitter, especially if it is a recurring event. Whether it’s a one-time thing or ongoing, the rate should be the same.