People sometimes treat the words babysitter and nanny as if they are interchangeable. Although it is an understandable mistake, this inaccuracy can make things confusing when parents reach out to a childcare agency or a nanny agency in hopes of finding a caregiver that meets their family’s needs. What separates the babysitters from the nannies? While both positions involve caring for children, there are distinct differences in what the job entails and how it is accomplished.

Nanny & Babysitter Duration

Whether it is a common occurrence or an occasional event, babysitters provide necessary supervision for a few hours at a time. In the child care-equivalent of gig work, they are contract workers who step in on an as-needed basis to watch children for a brief period after school or in the evening.

In contrast, nannies are present for the long haul. While these child care professionals may work part-time or full-time schedules, they are a consistent part of the lives of the children in their care. Nannies are household employees. These professionals often remain with a family for years, adjusting their responsibilities to meet the changing needs of their charges. During that time, they develop a solid understanding of how the family functions and become a trusted resource.

Responsbilities Nannies & Babysitters

When on the job, a babysitter’s top priority is safety. Although they may entertain their charges or fix a snack or meal, their primary responsibility is to offer adult supervision.

Nannies do that and much more. In addition to taking charge of their charge’s safety, they also supervise their emotional, educational, physical and social development. They make sure that your child is clothed, bathed, fed and appropriately occupied while in their care. They may craft customized lesson plans to support a child’s mastery of certain skills, help with their assigned homework, arrange a play date, plan educational outings that cater to the child’s interests or studies, or find artistic or athletic programs that meet the needs of their charge. In addition, nannies often tackle light housework and getting children to and from school, activities and social events.

Relationship Differences

Babysitters generally find jobs via a childcare agency and bounce between multiple employers, working a few hours here and there as their services are needed. Because they spend relatively little time with any one child, they tend to have a fairly superficial relationship with their charges.

Nannies are far more involved. In part, this is a reflection of the fact that they spend more time with the children they care for. The greater responsibility that nannies accept is also a factor. Overseeing a child’s physical, mental and emotional well-being means getting to know their personalities, interests and preferences, and the time and effort that goes into building that knowledge often creates a real bond between the caregiver and the child.

The Qualifications

Babysitting requires patience, some basic skills in relevant subjects like first aid and CPR, and a willingness to accept responsibility for the safety of a child for a brief period. It is not a job that requires extensive experience or formal qualifications.

Working as a nanny comes with heavier responsibilities. If you reach out to a reputable nanny agency for help finding a top-notch nanny, you will likely be matched with candidates who have formal training and significant experience in working with children of various age ranges. In fact, many professional nannies have college degrees in child development, psychology or education.

Nanny & Babysitter Pay

Payment is another area where babysitters and nannies differ. Babysitters are on-call workers who provide a specific service for a predetermined period of time. They are normally paid by the hour, and they are generally only paid for the hours that they work.

Nannies are employees. Their exact responsibilities and the number of hours worked may vary from one placement to the next, but most nannies have scheduled working hours. Their position may come with an hourly wage or a salary, but the responsibility for employment taxes normally falls on the family employing them. Many nannies also receive vacation time, holiday pay, sick days and other benefits as part of their compensation package.

As an elite nanny agency serving families in San Francisco and Los Angeles, The Help Company is prepared to assist you in finding childcare professionals you can trust. To discover more about our nanny services and how they might benefit you, contact us today via our client request form.