For Parents

For Babysitters

Take your babysitting services to the next level with our helpful tools, documents, tips, and useful articles written by parents, babysitters, and childcare professionals.

Negotiating babysitting rate

Negotiate a Higher Babysitting Rate

(9 Secret Tips!)

It doesn't matter if you're an established babysitter or just brand new. Every time you take on a new babysitting job, you're going to need to negotiate your pay rate.

Talking about money is awkward and stressful for most new babysitters, especially if you're only a teenager and trying to negotiate pricing with an adult.

If you price yourself too high, you might miss out on some jobs. But if you charge too little, you're selling yourself short and could miss out on hundreds of dollars that the family would've been willing to pay you.

How do you negotiate babysitting rates? Do some research upfront to find the average babysitting rate is in your area, decide on a minimum amount that you're willing to accept, then practice what you're going to say during your conversation with the parents in advance. Be sure to mention your qualifications and experience to justify your rate.

In this article, you'll learn 9 essential negotiation tips and tricks to land you more well-paying babysitting jobs.

But first.

Is There A Minimum Wage For Babysitters?

In most places, no there isn't.

Babysitters aren't considered domestic workers, so parents aren't legally obligated to pay you minimum wage.

Babysitters are usually considered independent contractors, not employees. Which also aren't required to be paid a minimum wage.

As a babysitter, it's up to you to negotiate with parents and agree on a reasonable rate.

Luckily, by the time you're done reading this article, you should be armed with some tips and strategies to bring to the bargaining table to help get you the pay rate that you deserve.

Should Babysitters Charge By The Hour Or A Flat Fee?

In almost all cases, I find that babysitters are better off to charge by the hour instead of a flat fee per babysitting session.

The main reason is that parents are often late getting home! If you already have a pre-agreed amount for the evening, they may get home an hour or two late. That could cost you $20 or more compared to if you were charging hourly.

Normally parents will feel bad for making you stay late and give you a tip for your extra time. But there's never a guarantee that will be the case, or that they'll tip you the equivalent of what you would've made if you were charging by the hour!

How do you deal with parents getting home late? See our 4 tips for babysitters.

The one exception might be if you're babysitting overnight. Your flat fee will also take the time you spend sleeping into account. See our overnight babysitting guide if you're required to stay over, we have a bunch of essential tips you should know.

Although even in that case, I think it's better to charge your regular rate for hours that you're actually babysitting, and a lower rate during the hours you’re sleeping. You should still be getting paid even while you're sleeping since technically you're still on duty and might need to help the children if they wake up during the night.

OK, now for our 9 essential negotiating tips:

1. Figure Out The Minimum You're Willing To Accept

How much you're willing to work for will largely depend on your situation.

As a teenager, you can work for lower wages, but as an adult, you need to earn enough money to live on.

Teenage babysitters

If you're a teenager, you probably don't have any bills to pay. So it can be hard to figure out the bare minimum amount of money you need to earn.

I'd recommend deciding on the lowest amount that you're going to be happy with.

Too many babysitters go into interviews with the attitude of "whatever you're willing to pay me is fine." I think that's a bad approach that really devalues what you're worth. Remember, you have taken the time to go through a babysitter course and First Aid / CPR training and should be paid accordingly for your skills and experience.

Babysitting comes with an opportunity cost. You have to give up time that you could be doing your homework, hanging out with friends, or relaxing. So it might be perfectly reasonable to pass up a babysitting job that's only offering you $5 per hour if you value time spent doing those other things more.

Adult babysitters

As an adult or full-time babysitter, things are a bit different. You should start by listing your qualifications, skills and work experience. The more qualifications that you have, the more money you can charge by the hour.

For example, if you have 3 children of your own and previously worked in childcare or teaching, you can charge more than someone who worked in a supermarket and has no children of their own. Parents are happy to pay a higher wage to someone with more qualifications.

You should also create a budget and figure out how much you would need to earn to pay your bills, pay for gas, buy groceries, plus a bit of extra money left over for fun and savings.

If babysitting is your only source of income, I'd add a good amount of padding to the minimum rate you're willing to settle for.

If you agree to a babysitting job that only just covers the bills, you'll constantly be struggling and just breaking even. And once you're in a full-time babysitting job, it's hard to find time to reach out to other potential families or go to interviews.

In most places in the US, $15 per hour is a good minimum rate for a full-time babysitter and I wouldn't settle for much less. After all, you're basically doing the same work as a daycare or nanny for the most part.

2. Research What Babysitters Get Paid In Your Area

The pay a babysitter can expect to earn varies widely depending on where they live. Even within the same country or state, hourly rates for babysitters can be drastically different between cities.

Don't just ask a friend or two how much they charge. Take a bigger sample of people into account.

Look online to find the average rate for babysitters in your city. That's a good place to start, and then you can adjust based upon your age, experience, and other individual circumstances.

Still not sure what you're worth? Read our babysitting rate guide for help.

3. Set A Pay Range

Once you've determined the minimum amount that you're willing to accept and also an idea of the going rate for babysitters in your area, you can set a range.

Every job is different and the amount you charge should have some flexibility.

Don't go into a babysitting interview with a single number in mind.

For example, you might charge more if you're babysitting a new baby, if a child has special needs, or if a family has a new puppy that you'll also need to take care of.

If a family you plan to babysit for has more than one child, it's common to charge an extra $1 or $2 per hour in addition to your base rate.

So give yourself a range to work with, like $16 to $19 per hour. Normally a range of $3 to $5 is enough to take any situation into account.

There is lots of money to be made on special occasions, see our guide to NYE babysitting for more details.

Also, see our suggested ways to earn more money while babysitting.

4. Talk It Out In Advance

Don't go into any negotiating situation without planning out the conversation in advance.

That's like a lawyer going into the courtroom without having a defense prepared!

The more you plan out how the conversation might go, the more comfortable you'll be when you're actually negotiating your rate with a parent.

Make a note of how you want it to go, and try to think of any objections that parents might have. Then figure out rebuttals to those objections that politely explain why you think you're worth more.

Negotiating is a skill like anything else, and the more you practice it the better you'll get. Start off in low-pressure situations like when something is wrong with your meal at a restaurant or trying to come to a compromise with a sibling.

It can really help to get a family member or friend to roleplay the situation with you too. Get them to act as the parent and go through the scenario with you. You might even ask them to be purposefully difficult and try to come up with new reasons why a parent might reject what you're asking for.

Before you go to a babysitting interview, take some time in front of the mirror to go through what you're going to say. Practice makes perfect!

5. Do It By Phone If Possible

Many people find it easier to negotiate over the phone instead of in person. That way you don't need to look the person in the eyes or worry that you're going to upset them as much.

Many parents start off the interview process with a screening call. But if they want to jump straight to an in-person meeting, I'd request to talk over the phone first.

This has an added benefit as well. It makes you seem like a busy babysitter who values their time, and you'll come across as more professional.

Hopefully, that's true for you too. You should value your time as a babysitter! There's no point driving to meet someone before you iron out the basic details. You want to figure out if you're a good fit and if you can agree on a pay range upfront.

Get it over with

It's better to get a "no" right away via a phone call, which only takes a few minutes. As opposed to getting dressed up and traveling to their house or meeting at a coffee shop and back home, which can take an hour or more in total.

After you discuss the basics such as how many children they have, when they'll need you to babysit, and other basic details, it's time to talk about pay. Tell them what your rate is, and ask if they're comfortable with it. Before you invest any more time in the interview process, you want to find out right away if they're willing to pay you the minimum amount that you'll accept.

Avoid giving a range

I don't recommend offering parents a range. Just give them a specific number based on their situation. Otherwise, they'll always go for the lowest number in your range.

If the thought of negotiating on the phone is too intimidating...

Many cultures make people feel scared to bring up money. You might feel like you're less of a babysitter because you're talking about money instead of the children you'll be caring for. Babysitters deserve to get paid fairly just like everybody else.

If you're really anxious about negotiating, you could even consider having the initial conversation via email or text message where you can compose and re-read your thoughts at your own pace before you send them. Keep in mind that this gives parents more time to come up with objections and try to haggle down your rate too, so it can backfire.

6. Build Up Your Credentials

The more positive details that you can slip into your initial conversation with parents before discussing rates, the more you can potentially charge.

Parents might start off just thinking they need a person sitting there to make sure their child doesn't get hurt.

Let them know how you go above and beyond as a babysitter. Discuss all of your experience and credentials such as babysitting courses, First Aid, and CPR.

Let them know that with you, their children will be fully engaged and having fun the entire time. You won't just sit them in front of the television for five hours like some other babysitters might. That's what they could end up with if they're only offering the lowest possible rate.

Let them know all the hard work and labor that you put into your babysitting duties.

All of this builds you up in their mind, so there won't be as much shock when they hear what you charge.

Find out how to build up valuable credentials by reading our Guide to babysitting qualifications.

7. Ask How And What

People are less defensive of questions involving "how" and "what."

If you ask "why" questions like "why can't you do this?" it puts them more on edge.

If parents say they can't pay your rate and can only pay X amount, ask a "how" or "what" question.

"How flexible is the amount you're willing to pay?"

"What can I do to make my service worth $X for you?"

"How can we come to an agreement?"

It makes it more of an open-ended question that generates ideas and sounds like you're trying to work toward a compromise, instead of sounding like an accusation.

Make it clear to parents that you're on the same team. You're both trying to get the same thing, which is great care for their child.

Maybe parents will be willing to pay you the rate you're looking for if you're willing to tidy up a bit after the children go to bed. But you'll only find that out by using "how" and "what" questions, not by asking "why."

Almost any "why" question can be rephrased into a "how" or "what" question!

8. Don't Sabotage Yourself

In interviews, it's easy to sabotage yourself. Especially if you really want the job or you're a natural people-pleasing person.

If you say "my rate is $15 per hour" and you're met with silence, the reaction of most people is to try to fill the silence by any means possible.

The parent you're talking to might just need a few seconds to think it over, but in the meantime, you might blurt out "but I can probably do $12 per hour if that works better for you!" You just gave yourself a pay cut.

Being comfortable with silence is a powerful negotiation tactic. Once you're aware of it, you can use it to work for you instead of against you. If parents give you an unfavorable rate, pause and think about it for a few seconds. See if they'll get awkward and offer you a higher rate just to fill the silence. Sometimes silence can say more in a negotiation than you ever could because it gets people negotiating against themselves!

Don't cave into something you don't really want

Also, avoid changing your initial requirements. If you go into a babysitting interview and you've told the parents that you can only babysit for 12 hours per week and they say they want you to babysit for 20 hours per week, don't change your position. Just repeat your original information that you can only work with them for up to 12 hours.

There's probably a good reason why you didn't say 20 hours per week upfront. You might have schoolwork to do, other jobs to fit in, or just want more time to relax.

A mistake would be to sabotage yourself by saying "I was hoping for just 12 hours per week, but I could probably do 20 hours per week if you really need me to." Suddenly you've signed up for more babysitting than you have time for. You'll probably end up feeling burned out or unsatisfied in that case.

You can always ask for more time

You don't expect parents to hire you on the spot in an interview. They may have other people they want to interview before they make a decision.

That courtesy should work both ways. If you need more time to make a decision, don't be afraid to say so. Just let them know that it's a big decision and you want to take a day or two to think about it before you get back to them.

9. Look For Other Benefits

If you can't seem to come to an agreement on an hourly rate, think about other benefits that you could negotiate for.

If the parents are willing to pick you up and drop you off at home after each babysitting shift, that definitely has some value to it.

Maybe they'll be willing to leave you some leftovers to eat or chip in for a food delivery each time you babysit.

If one of the parents is an accountant, maybe you can get them to do your taxes for you!

Don't hesitate to get creative and try to come up with other ways to make babysitting work for you besides an hourly wage.

Related Questions

What other factors should I take into account when deciding on my babysitting rate?

Definitely take location into account. If you're babysitting a child that lives a couple of houses down from you, you might be able to offer a lower rate than if you were watching a child across town.

Experience plays a big part, as well as the number of children you'll be watching.

What kind of tone should I use when negotiating my babysitting rate?

You want to be firm, but not rude. It can be a fine balance.

If you've got a minimum rate that you're willing to accept, you need to make that known. But you don't want to start losing clientele because you let emotions take over either.

Keep things professional and do your best to avoid getting upset.

If a family can't afford to pay you the rate that you think you deserve, then just thank them for their time and explain that you're sorry it couldn't work out. Parents will understand as long as you're professional about it.

Are you going to a babysitting interview? See our job interview guides:


Written & Illustrated by:

 Matthew Taylor

Matthew Taylor

Kidsit Founder, Editor, Illustrator, and father of three beautiful kids in Sydney, Australia.

Reviewed & Edited by :

 Renee Irving Lee, B.Ed.

Renee Irving Lee, B.Ed.

Renee is a children’s author and freelance writer from the Sunshine Coast, Australia. She has 20 years of combined experience working with children as a babysitter, swim coach, special education teacher and an after-hours care supervisor.

Updated: 27 November 2019
First Published: 20 March 2019

More Babysitting Tips

Babysitting rates

Babysitting Pay Rates (How Much Should You Charge?)

See out how much you're actually worth as a babysitter by reviewing your skills, experience, the job requirements, and where you live.

Babysitting qualification

Babysitting Qualifications (Which Ones Do You Need?)

Learn the most popular babysitting qualifications, what they are, why you need them, and how they can put you ahead of the competition when applying for jobs.

Babysitter with money

Make Money Babysitting (9 Tips To Increase Your Pay)

See how much money you can make as a babysitter, how to start getting sitting jobs, and how to increase your pay once you're already working.

Babysitter with a license

Babysitting License (What is it and How do I Get One?)

We explain what a babysitting license is, what different kinds of certification are available, how to get a license, and whether you can babysit without one.

Babysitting interview expectations

Babysitting Interviews: What to Expect (Phone & In-Person)

I'll walk you through the major steps of a babysitting interview process so you'll know how to prepare and what to expect.

Babysitting for free

Babysitting For Free (6 Reasons Why its Good, Plus Coupons!)

Learn why babysitting for free is a great choice, particularly as a beginner when you need to gain childcare experience and references.

Babysitter posting a flyer on a pole

Babysitting Flyers: Free Online Maker! (3 Easy Steps to Create Customized Flyers!)

Create Your Own Beautiful Babysitting Flyers in 2 Minutes! Choose a Template. Customize Your Design. Download a Free Printable PDF!

Five-star review

Babysitting References (What Are They & How To Get Them?)

Learn what babysitting references are, why they're important, who you should use as a reference, and some essential tips to put you ahead of the competition.

Babysitter with good qualities

13 Qualities All Good Babysitters Share (Do You Have What It Takes?)

We look at some of the key qualities that parents look for, and you should have if you want to be a successful babysitter!

Can You Write Off Babysitting Expenses? (Tax Guide For Babysitters)

Learn what babysitting expenses sitters are eligible for, and receive a tax credit or deduction. It could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars!

Autistic child with jigsaw puzzle

How to Babysit Autistic Children (13 Tips, Appropriate Activities + Checklist)

Everything you need to know about babysitting kids with autism including how to prepare, effective care strategies, safety, and fun activities to enjoy together.

Water safety buoy

Kids Water Safety (25 Tips All Babysitters Should Know)

Learn to recognize dangerous water hazards and the basic safety tips needed to keep kids safe around water while you're babysitting.

Babysitting binder

Babysitting Binder (20 Documents & Fun Items to Include!)

With a well stocked babysitting binder, you can focus on caregiving because you know you have everything you need.

Babysitter with a fed baby

How to Babysit a Baby: The Beginner’s Guide

Learn how to babysit a baby by following our simple beginners guide and you’ll know what to do in no time.

Babysitting at night

Babysitting at Night (Dinner, Baths & Bedtime Routine Tips)

Learn the different tasks and responsibilities that need doing if you're babysitting at night time including the finer art of bedtime routines.

Babysitter choosing clothes

What to Wear When Babysitting (How to be Professional and Practical)

Strike the best balance between professional and practical by following our handy clothing tips for your next babysitting job.

Sleeping child

Get Kids to Bed when Babysitting (Ssssssh… 8 Bedtime Secrets!)

Learn these 8 simple tricks to nail a successful bedtime every night! It's surprising how many of these sleeping tips are not commonly known.

Babysitter with responsibility list

Babysitting Responsibilities (23 Common Duties on the Job)

Learn the most common responsibilities that parents expect of their babysitters and how your duties may change depending on the job requirements.

Toddler playing doctors with his teddy

How to Babysit a Toddler (28 Tips: Care, Activities & Discipline)

Learn the important things to keep in mind when you're babysitting a toddler, as well as 28 tips to make your job a bit easier.

Baby crying at night

Babysitting Night Shifts (How to Cope with no Sleep!)

Learn what to do before your overnight babysitting shift, tricks when eating and drinking during the night and what to do once you get home.

Babysitting Interviews: What to Wear Guide (First Impressions Count!)

65% of employers say that clothing could be a deciding factor between two otherwise equal candidates. Read our essential tips and beat the competition!

Overnight Babysitting Tips (What to Bring, Prepare, and Expect)

Learn what overnight babysitting involves, what items you should bring, how to prepare, and what questions to ask parents before they leave.

NYE Babysitting Guide (How Much to Charge, What to Expect)

Learn what to expect when babysitting on New Year's Eve, how much to charge, what to bring, and recommended nighttime babysitting activities to try.

Babysitting & Leadership Skills (How Sitting Can Make You A Leader)

Learn how babysitting shows leadership, how to effectively lead children, and how to develop important leadership skills through childcare work.

Babysitter insurance

Do Babysitters & Nannies Need Insurance? (Guide for Caregivers)

Learn why a babysitter might get insurance, what insurance the parents should have, and what insurance requirements there are for a child care center.

Safe babysitter

How to Stay Safe When Babysitting (Essential Tips You Should Know)

Learn all the steps for keeping safe from the interview, to on the job childcare. Our tips include preventative measures and best practices while babysitting kids.

Babysitter hugging a child

Be a Safe Babysitter! (Essential Safety Tips you Should Know)

Learn how to be a safe babysitter by following our essential safety tips and best practices while looking after children. Safety is so important!

Babysitter cleaning

Should Babysitters Clean? (How to Set Parent Expectations)

Cleaning is a part of doing a good job. A good babysitter will tidy up any mess made while caring for the children. But how much cleaning is necessary?

Babysitter with her backpack

What to Bring Babysitting? (18 Essentials to Pack + Checklist)

The best way to bring your A-game is to be prepared for everything. This article will help you pack the ultimate babysitting pack.

Babysitter hugging a boy

Can You Babysit Without Qualifications?

In most places, you don't need qualifications to babysit. However, parents prefer carers with a First Aid Certificate & other basic credentials. Find out what qualifications you need.

Kidsit Babysitting Kit

Get Your Printable Babysitting Kit (Download Free Forms, Checklists & Documents)

Download and print our free babysitting kit. It's packed full of useful resources to make childcare easy and fun.

Playing hopscotch with kids

Fun things to do when babysitting 200+ Kids Games, Activities & Entertainment Ideas

205 Kids Games, Activities & Ideas to keep even the fussiest kids entertained for hours.

Multi-skilled babysitter

29 Skills You Can Learn From Babysitting (And Why They're So Valuable)

See all the skills that babysitting can teach you and learn why most of them are fully transferable to other occupations.