Babysitter Vs. Nanny: What's The Difference

By Ashley Paskill on May 5, 2024

Hiring childcare for your kids is an important decision. One of the most common choices to make is deciding if a babysitter or a nanny would fit your family better. While many people think these are the same, there are a number of differences between the two. Knowing the differences between a babysitter and a nanny can help you decide which would be best for your family.

Time commitment

One of the biggest differences is the time the caregiver provides. Babysitters are more part-time. They may only work for you for a few hours a day. Unless you hire your babysitter to help with after-school care, you may only see your babysitter when you have plans. While there are exceptions, babysitters do not typically spend the night with your family. Babysitters are likely still in high school or college, so they have less time to devote to a childcare job. They are necessarily in the kids’ lives as long or as frequently as a nanny would be.

Nannying tends to be more of a full-time position for those who want to pursue childcare as a career. It is likely that your nanny stays with your kids all day, especially if you have children who are not in school yet. In some cases, your nanny may even live with you and your family all the time. Your nanny may have graduated from school or are able to do online classes so they are able to devote more time to working for your family. Nannies tend to be part of the kids’ lives from an early age until they are much older.


As mentioned above, many babysitters may be in high school or college. They tend to be younger than nannies. This means they may not have as much experience or knowledge as someone who has a degree or more years of experience. However, they still may have certifications that show they know how to care for children and handle emergencies that may arise.

Nannies tend to be older and, as such, have a bit more experience. They may have a degree in childcare or even took courses out of interest. They may also have many of the certifications that babysitters have if not more. Many nannies are also trained housekeepers, so they are able to be paid more for their additional responsibilities.


Babysitters tend to have fewer responsibilities than nannies. Their main focus is watching the kids and cleaning up from things done during their shift, whether that means cleaning up from dinner or after doing crafts. They may be responsible for planning activities and cooking dinner. Some may also do light chores as directed by the parents. If the kids are in school, you may be asked to help them with their homework. Some babysitters may be asked to take on some extra responsibilities.

Nannies are responsible for so much more, especially when it comes to chores around the house. Some nannies choose to be trained in housekeeping so they can earn more by doing chores around the house. They are responsible for driving the kids to and from school, sports, and other activities as well as helping with homework. Live-in nannies may also be responsible for helping with the bedtime routine. For babysitters and nannies, additional responsibilities may be added if they go on vacation with the family.

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While babysitting is a job, most babysitters tend to be paid “under the table.” This means they do not receive tax documents. However, it is still a good idea to have them report it, especially if they make a certain amount. Check with a tax professional for guidance on this as babysitters are still working for you and you can claim a tax deduction for childcare if your babysitter is on payroll.

Some nannies also get paid under the table. However, since nannying is a full-time job most of the time, you may want to set up payroll for your nanny. This way, you will not get in trouble with the IRS. You can use the payroll as a tax deduction for yourself for childcare costs.  This also allows your nanny to start collecting Social Security benefits and potentially unemployment benefits.

The amount of pay between babysitters and nannies is a major difference. Factors that go into how much each is paid include how many kids you have, experience, certifications, and responsibilities. Since babysitters work fewer hours and have fewer responsibilities, they do not make as much as nannies do. If a babysitter has certain certifications or takes on additional responsibilities, they may request a pay increase. Nannies work more hours than babysitters and have more responsibilities. They also tend to have more certifications and experience.

Hiring a babysitter or a nanny is difficult, and knowing which one works best for you is crucial. Think about what you and your family need and decide from there.

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