Do you tip a babysitter?

Child with hundred dollar bills

Tipping a babysitter is not expected, but can be a sign of appreciation when the sitter has gone above and beyond expectations.

If a babysitter or nanny is working set hours, at agreed hourly rates that are reasonable, then tipping is normally not required.

There are times, though, that tipping a babysitter is appropriate.

Feedback reveals that more than 50% of parents have tipped their babysitters at some time in the past.

What’s the tipping etiquette overall?

Tipping has been a part of American culture for decades, often as a way to help those on low wages who are providing a service, such as waitstaff, parking attendants, taxi drivers and food delivery workers. In recent years the tipping etiquette has changed and amounts have increased. It seems that nearly every transaction offers an option to tip, regardless of industry. This shift is related to the pandemic, the use of more online payment systems that include screens for tipping, and awareness of the rising costs of living.

When should I tip a babysitter?

There are a number of situations where it may be appropriate to tip a babysitter. Usually tipping happens if there are unexpected duties or significant additional responsibilities for the babysitter.

Last minute

Unexpected things happen. It’s incredibly difficult when you’ve got family responsibilities and you suddenly need help. If you’ve called on your babysitter at the last minute you may like to tip them as a reward for working at short notice. A babysitter who is able to drop everything at a moment’s notice for you is invaluable. These situations are often chaotic by nature - the children may be unfed or unsettled, the dog may need walking, the house might be a mess. So paying a tip is recommended in this instance.

Extra hours unexpectedly

Most of the time parents plan the hours they’ll need a babysitter. Parents usually provide the babysitter with a time they’ll be home at the latest. There are times, however, that things don’t go to plan. For example when your work meetings run late, there’s a traffic emergency, or your night out is much longer than expected. In this case parents should message the babysitter to ask if the sitter can stay late. Parents should pay for the extra childcare time and consider a tip or rounding up as a gesture of thanks.

Went above and beyond expectations

Sometimes babysitters go over and above what is expected during their usual shift. This might include things like helping with homework, solving a problem that your child has shared, finding a lost toy, or cooking a meal for the whole family. When the babysitter has provided extraordinary care and service a tip can be appropriate.

Extra tasks

There are times when extra tasks need to be completed with the children or in the home. You might be moving house, leaving or returning from a vacation. A babysitter might help get things done such as making children’s beds, unpacking bags, extra loads of washing, organizing toy storage, or running errands. Parents may like to tip or pay more when these additional tasks are added to the role of childcare.

Extra kids

If your child has a friend over for a playdate, remember to tip your babysitter. This will help cover the additional responsibility that comes with caring for more children and ensuring their safety, health and wellbeing. If this is an ongoing arrangement (e.g., a nanny share, where two families split the cost of a nanny) then parents should discuss this with the babysitter ahead of time and strike an agreement about pay rates.

Extra responsibility

There are some jobs or settings that carry significant added responsibility. This may include babysitting children who are swimming or babysitting children in a heatwave or snowstorm. These situations require extra vigilance. Parents usually pay higher hourly rates for roles that demand more responsibility like this. Parents may also choose to tip the babysitter.

Children with additional needs

Parents may pay higher hourly rates if their child has any additional needs that require skilled support by a qualified carer. Additional needs might include a disabling condition, physical or sensory impairments, learning disabilities, a chronic illness, or severe allergies. The babysitter may need experience, relevant training or qualifications to provide the right care, so the hourly pay rate will usually be higher. Tipping isn’t usually expected if the pay rate is appropriate.

Pet Care

Many families have pets that require care. If a babysitter is expected to undertake additional tasks related to the pets (e.g., cleaning food bowls, changing kitty litter, walking the dog) then you may like to factor this into the babysitter’s hourly rates or add a tip.

Handling an emergency

Occasionally emergencies happen. Some examples may include medical emergencies (e.g., a child has an allergic reaction) or house emergencies (e.g., power outage). If a babysitter has handled an emergency then a tip is a suitable way to thank them for their extraordinary effort.

Sleep Overs

When a babysitter sleeps over for the night parents usually pay an agreed rate. They may also choose to tip or round up, given the level of responsibility involved in this role.

How much should I tip a babysitter?

If a tip is required parents usually tip babysitters up to 20% of the final amount. This is an individual choice and may be influenced by the circumstances.

Rounding up

Often parents will round up the final amount they owe at the end of a shift. This isn’t a 20% tip, but is a gesture of goodwill. Every dollar counts for most babysitters, so rounding up is not necessary but will be appreciated.

Are there risks if I don’t tip a babysitter?

Most babysitters won’t be expecting a tip. If, however, the babysitter has gone above and beyond expectations then she may anticipate a tip or extra pay. If parents don’t tip or pay appropriate rates the babysitter may feel unappreciated and may not accept future bookings.

End of Year Holiday Bonus

In a related topic, many parents wonder if a holiday bonus is expected. If parents are employing a professional nanny throughout the year, then a holiday bonus is appropriate. A bonus is given as a sign of appreciation and acknowledgement for a job well done. Most parents tip 1-2 weeks of pay as a holiday bonus.

We hope this offers some guidelines about tipping babysitters. In summary, tipping is not expected for regular roles if the babysitter is working agreed hours and at reasonable rates. Tipping is appropriate if the babysitter has gone over and above expectations, or has managed unexpected situations.