Kidsit Founder, Editor, Illustrator, and father of three beautiful kids in Sydney, Australia.
You and your partner might have differing opinions on whether to provide dinner for your babysitter or not. To some people, it just seems polite, while others feel it's totally unnecessary when you're paying them to do a job.
Do you provide dinner for a babysitter? It's the polite thing to do. While the etiquette surrounding this varies a lot by region, almost any babysitter would appreciate being provided food if they're going to be watching your kids over dinner time.
If you've never had a babysitter before, you might be unsure if you're expected to provide food for them. In this article, I'll go over whether you should feed your babysitter, what types of foods to leave for them, and more.
Having a babysitter who is hungry or has low blood sugar isn't a good idea. People are more irritable when they're hungry and less likely to provide their best care for your children.
I did some babysitting as a teenager, and it was always a nice treat when the parents would leave some money for you to order pizza for yourself and the kids to share.
But there were also some families I babysat for that provided nothing, and I'd be almost starving by the end of my time there.
You need to keep in mind that babysitters are often coming straight from school or work, so they probably haven't had a chance to grab something to eat. Depending on their age, their parents might usually cook for them anyway.
A big factor comes down to the wage you're paying as well. For a part-time babysitter who you might be paying less than minimum wage, it makes sense to at least provide some snacks. If you have a nanny who is being paid a full-time salary, I think it's more reasonable to expect them to provide their own meals.
One of the most common phrases that a babysitter will hear is "help yourself to anything in the fridge or cupboards!"
While this is a nice gesture, make sure you mean what you're saying before you give them free rein of the kitchen!
Don't be upset if you tell your babysitter to help themselves to anything, and they eat the leftovers that you had wanted to save for lunch tomorrow.
To avoid having your babysitter eat through your entire fridge, it's good to set aside dedicated food for them. This could be a basket of snacks for them on the kitchen counter, or a meal labeled for them in the fridge.
This type of communication will prevent any potential misunderstanding. Plus some babysitters might feel anxious about rummaging through your cupboards and appreciate having specific items left out for them.
Are you not sure what kind of food to leave for your babysitter? The easiest way to find out is just to ask them what they like! Especially if you're making a meal for them.
It's best to ask about dietary restrictions too. So many people nowadays are vegetarian, gluten intolerant, or have some form of allergies. It would be terrible to go through the effort of getting something special for them only to realize they can't eat it. Or worse, give them something they're allergic to and cause a reaction while they're watching your kids!
Some babysitters might like junk food, while others would prefer a big healthy salad. And everyone has at least a couple of foods they dislike, so it's always best to simply ask.
If you plan to leave a full dinner for your babysitter, it's best to work the meal preparation into your existing routine.
When you're hiring a babysitter, you'll already likely be short on time that particular day, and won't have time to make them a dedicated meal. Especially if you're getting a babysitter to go out for dinner yourself!
The simplest way to circumvent this is to make one of your babysitter's favorite meals the night before you need them to babysit. Then you can simply leave the leftovers in the fridge for them to eat the next day. Just make sure your kids or partner knows not to eat the babysitter's dinner before then!
Pasta, shepherds pie, curry, chili, soup, and stir frys all make great leftovers.
Having some extra food in your freezer can be a lifesaver if you're dealing with a fussy baby or just extra short on time.
You can buy individually frozen items like pizza pockets or burritos, or create your own single-serving frozen meals in oven or microwave-safe containers. That way the babysitter just needs to take their meal out of the oven and heat it up.
Setting aside a couple hours one weekend to create pre-made meals and freezing them can give you easy dinners for several weeks. Both for you and your babysitter!
Depending on the age of your child, your babysitter could be sitting and holding a crying baby all night. Or they could be chasing a toddler up and down your hallways.
Either way, they probably won't have time to sit down and eat a proper dinner with a fork and knife.
Make meals for your babysitter as easy to eat as possible. Ideally something they can eat with one hand like a bagel or sandwich.
Food that is quick to reheat or needs no cooking at all are best. Keeping track of something in the oven for 20 minutes is one extra task your babysitter doesn't need.
Your babysitter might not have the desire or energy to do the dishes if they're keeping a constant eye on your son or daughter. So avoid elaborate and messy dishes that they'll have to clean up.
It's best to avoid really greasy food or anything that will dirty any additional oven trays or dishes in the process of making them.
Find out what cleaning babysitters are normally expected to do in our article Do Babysitters Wash Dishes & Do Other Chores?.
Here are some great meals and snacks to provide for your babysitter. Most of them are inexpensive, tasty, and easy to eat.
Yes, your pizza delivery person won't think twice about a 13 year old answering the door. To make it easier on them, you can leave your babysitter with your account details or an app that has been already linked with your credit card to order food online.
In most cases, no. But it should be discussed during the hiring process. If they're employed by you full-time then I would expect them to pack and bring their own meal. Just like you wouldn't be expected to feed your child's daycare staff or landscaper. It might be a nice gesture to provide meals for your nanny, but it's less standard than providing food for a part-time babysitter.
How to prepare for your first babysitter
Written & Illustrated by:
Kidsit Founder, Editor, Illustrator, and father of three beautiful kids in Sydney, Australia.
Published: 23 December 2018
Learn what babysitting expenses parents are eligible for, and receive a tax credit or deduction. It can save you thousands of dollars!
Learn whether a babysitter should do any cleaning as well as what types of cleaning you should and shouldn't expect them to do.
Learn the places where it’s common to tip your babysitter, the times when it’s more appropriate to tip, how much you should give, and more.
Learn how to prepare your home, your child, and yourself for your first babysitter so you can finally enjoy a dinner date or night out for the first time in months!
Make the right choice for your family by learning the subtle differences between babysitters and nannies and their typical responsibilities.
Give your babysitter all the information they need by printing out our handy parent details form. Never forget important instructions.
Learn how much babysitters get paid in various countries and cities, and how to price a babysitter for your specific situation.
Discover the best holiday gift for your babysitter that's not stressful or costs a lot of money but still shows them that you care.
Learn what paperwork is required to allow your babysitter to take your child to the doctor if you’re unavailable to do so.
There are some things that babysitters should never do, see our list of the biggest offenders so that you know what to enforce.
Learn which qualities and characteristics a babysitter should have that make them a great caregiver your whole family will love.
Follow our step by step guide to hiring a babysitter from start to finish including screening, interviewing, performing background checks, and making an offer.
Learn some non-obvious benefits when it comes to hiring a babysitter for your child or children. We'll also touch on a few of the disadvantages to consider.
Follow our tips to make sure the interview process goes smoothly and read our general guide on how the process should work.
Learn how to hire a babysitter for New Year's Eve, what the requirements are, whether you need a backup sitter, and how much it will cost you!
Learn the warning signs of a bad babysitter so you can take action as soon as possible and keep your family safe.
Learn which jobs are super flexible and let you work around your existing childcare schedule and earn some extra money!
Your best option is to reach out to family and friends for a favor. If they aren't able to help, try our list of creative alternatives.
Learn how old, mature and capable your kids need to be before you can be comfortable leaving them home without a babysitter.
The majority of families will need to hire a babysitter between once per week and 1-2 times per month but it depends on your family's individual needs.
Babysitters can take care of more than one child at once. But there is a limit on how many kids a babysitter can watch effectively.
A male babysitter can be just as safe, caring, and responsible as a female one. Compare their qualifications and recommendations just like other candidates.
Learn how to choose a mature and capable babysitter that can keep your kids safe on overnight sitting jobs.
It's not normal to pay a babysitter for an interview, however, for babysitting, there's one key exception you should know.