Hiring a sitter can be a much-needed break for parents—but how much should you pay? Here are the questions to consider to figure out how to fairly pay your babysitter.

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Whether it's date night or you need an extra hand while you're home, hiring a babysitter can be a lifeline. But with most sitters working under the table, it can be hard to know what a fair price would be.

UrbanSitter's 2020 National Childcare Rate Survey found that, on average, parents pay babysitters $17.73 for one child, $20.30 for two children, and $21.49 for three children. Average rates vary widely based on geographic location, though. For example, parents in San Francisco pay an hourly rate of $21.17 for one child, while the rate is $12.53 in Las Vegas. In general, the cost of child care has increased this year according to the 2021 Cost of Care Survey by Care.com—85 percent of parents (compared to 72 percent in 2020) said 10 percent or more of their household income is being spent on child care. Still, with 61 percent of parents who took the Care.com survey reporting that their usual child care provider remains closed because of the pandemic, hiring a sitter might be a worthwhile cost for many parents seeking support.

An image of a woman's hand holding money.
Credit: Getty Images.

Other factors besides location can also influence how much your babysitter should be paid. Ask yourself these questions when coming up with a rate.

How much experience does your sitter have?

The more experience a sitter has the more they can and should charge, according to Care.com. "Paying more for experience can get you a sitter who can better meet your child care needs--and you get peace of mind too," says the website.

Number of children being cared for

As any parent knows, there's a big difference in responsibility between supervising just one child and watching two, or three, or more. Care.com suggests the amount you pay a sitter should reflect this reality. "Your babysitter needs to control a larger group, deal with kids interacting with each other, and be more aware of group dynamics than if she's watching one child," the website explains.

Overnight sitters

Some parents opt to pay a sitter less while the kids are asleep. In fact, Care.com suggests sitters might consider reducing their hourly rates for an overnight job, keeping in mind that the sitter will be getting paid for more hours overall than for a typical "date night" job.

Level of time commitment involved

How much work will you be giving the babysitter? This too can play a role in the hourly rate you end up negotiating. In other words, will you need a sitter full-time? Or perhaps just part-time, or even less? You'll also want to think about whether the work will be on weekends or during the week, as these are all requests that can impact the price you pay.

More responsibilities mean more cost

The more responsibility you give a sitter, the more you should expect to pay them. For instance, Care.com says the following factors can impact the price you pay: caring for an infant, children with special needs, or those who require specialized care. In addition, some families pay more money to babysitters who cook, pitch in with the laundry chores, fetch groceries at the supermarket, or even drive children to various activities.

Use an online calculator to help

Care.com's website features a helpful babysitter rate calculator. Just enter key information such as your zip code, years of experience you're seeking, the number of children to be watched, and the estimated total hours per week you'll need a sitter. With this information, the calculator provides an estimated hourly, weekly, monthly, and yearly rate for your area. The site also lists the average hourly rates for the top 20 cities in the country, so you can get a sense of what the going rate is in your area.