What is a babysitter?

Mom sitting with toddler

What is a Babysitter?

A babysitter is a person who is paid to care for a child or children in the family's home. They often work on an occasional or part-time basis.

Usually a babysitter has flexible hours and may work for several different families, providing day time or evening care.

Babysitters are usually studying or working in other fields, alongside their babysitting jobs.

Babysitters have a range of experience, qualifications and ages.

Some babysitters are new to the industry, while others have years of experience or qualifications.

Some sitters are younger workers starting out, while others are more mature workers.

What do babysitters do?

A babysitter’s role is to focus on the care, safety and wellbeing of babies and children. The details of the role can vary significantly, based on the children and the family's needs. A babysitter usually has some parent supervision or guidance. Some tasks that babysitters do include

  • following routines set by the parents
  • children's snack and meal preparations and tidying up
  • preparing baby bottles
  • putting babies and toddlers down for naps
  • settling a crying baby
  • dressing babies and toddlers
  • diaper changing
  • toilet training with the parents’ guidance
  • tidying toys and books
  • playing with the children
  • taking children on outings - walking, by car, or by public transport
  • managing a child or children in a pram safely
  • helping with homework
  • bathtime
  • bedtime
  • being fully responsible for child safety
  • managing medical issues, such as allergies
  • reporting back to parents after the babysitting shift.

What makes a great babysitter?

A great babysitter will be calm, capable and kind. Some of the key traits of the best babysitters are being:

  • Trustworthy
  • Reliable
  • Caring
  • Honest
  • Curious
  • Patient
  • Empathetic
  • Energetic
  • Alert
  • Playful
  • Thoughtful
  • Respectful

What qualification does a babysitter need?

Babysitters don’t require any formal qualifications. Most babysitters on our platform do have some relevant certifications or qualifications though. Many sitters have certifications in CPR or First Aid. Some babysitters are graduates of other courses relating to children and education, for example teaching or health care. Some babysitters don't possess formal qualifications, but have many years of experience from raising their own (or others!) children.

Who does babysitting?

Babysitters are usually drawn to the role because they love working with children.

Babysitters are usually aged 18 to 60 years of age. Sitters at different ages and stages of life bring a range of experience and skills to the role.

Most sitters listed on The Best Babysitters are female, some are male.

At The Best Babysitters we have a wonderful range of carers who have backgrounds working or studying in many areas of interest. This includes early childhood education, primary or secondary teaching, nursing, allied health, psychology, art, music, dance and many more specialities! These carers bring a breadth and depth of knowledge and experience to being a babysitter.

What skills are needed to be the best babysitter?

These are some of the important skills required for a babysitting job:

Relationship skills A sitter must be able to relate well to children and their parents. This is the basis for working successfully with families and caring for children. A sitter needs to be a skilled listener, observer and communicator. A babysitter needs to be able to establish a respectful relationship with children, so they feel safe and supported.
Childcare skills Babysitters need to have a range of practical childcare skills to manage different ages and stages.
Behaviour Management Skills A babysitter needs to be able to follow the parents' guidelines about how to manage and support children's behavior.
Time management skills Caring for children is a juggling act! A great babysitter needs to be able to manage time well, particularly for the dinner, bathtime and bed time routine!
Observational skills Observational skills are critical when caring for children. Babysitters need to be able to understand, anticipate and respond to children appropriately.
Problem-solving skills Babysitters need to be skilled problem-solvers! Babysitters need to determine the underlying cause of a problem and come up with the right solution.
First aid skills First aid skills are crucial to handle any issues that might occur during a babysitting shift. First aid skills can be particularly important if caring for a child with medical issues, special needs or allergies.
Responsibility A babysitter must take full responsibility for the child or children in her care.
Safety skills The most important aspect of childcare is keeping the children safe and well. A babysitter needs to be skilled in managing risk and keeping children safe.
Reliability A nanny needs to be reliable, arriving for work on time and completing all tasks as agreed.
Adaptability Babysitters need to be ready to cope with the unexpected! Often despite the best laid plans, things go astray! Great babysitters are able to adapt, stay calm, be flexible and creative to handle changes.

Why use a babysitter?

The main benefit of having a babysitter is that they can provide care that is tailored to the child’s individual needs, in the family home. Babysitters’ hours can be flexible. Parents can call on babysitters as needed, whether that's an evening, a weekend day or an overnight. Parents have the convenience of having a babysitter walk into the home to help with the children and all the child-related tasks. Parents have the peace of mind that children are being cared for in their own home. Children have the comfort of being in their own environment, with everything they need.

How many children can a babysitter care for?

The number of children a babysitter can care for depends on the sitter’s experience and skills. Often it takes years of experience to build up the skills to care for several children at once. It is important to note that hourly rates do increase for larger numbers of children.

Can a babysitter care for twins?

A babysitter can help parents care for twins. If parents are employing a sitter without experience, however, they may be required to offer more supervision and training to teach them all the tips and tricks! Parents may also choose to engage a babysitter as a ‘mother’s helper’ - as an extra pair of hands assisting, rather than being in sole charge.

How long are babysitting shifts?

Most babysitting jobs are several hours in duration. Sometimes babysitters work for longer days, such as vacation care.

Do babysitters drive?

A babysitter’s job may involve driving children to and from activities. In this case the parents decide whether to provide an insured car with suitable child seats, or whether the babysitter uses her own safe and insured car. The parents may need to pay a higher hourly rate if driving is included, to cover gas and car use. During the interview parents should ensure they view the babysitters’ license and ask about a clean driving record.

What is the difference between a nanny and a babysitter?

A babysitter usually refers to a person who cares for children in an ad hoc or short-term capacity. They are usually less experienced than a nanny. A babysitter might be studying or working in another field and does some babysitting as an extra job. A nanny cares for children for a living, it is their professional career. A nanny usually works longer hours caring for children, mostly in a permanent part-time or full-time capacity.

Do babysitters do house cleaning?

Babysitters usually do light cleaning that is child-related. This may include things like washing the children's dishes, wiping the kitchen benches, cleaning the dining table or high chair, folding the children's laundry and tidying the toys and books. Any ‘heavier' cleaning duties are not within the babysitter’s job description normally. Often parents employ a cleaner specifically for heavier cleaning duties like mopping floors, cleaning bathrooms and vacuuming.

Does a babysitter need a Background Check?

According to the law, babysitters don’t need Background Checks. As with anyone working with children, however, we do recommend a Background Check. The sitter can order a Background Check independently and show this to parents during interviews. Parents might like to offer to pay for the check. The cost varies depending on the level of detail. We recommend choosing a Background Screening service that’s accredited through The Professional Background Screening Association.

We hope this summary helps explain what is involved in a babysitting job. The Best Babysitters is a job and introduction site. Our site gives babysitters a great way to find wonderful work. Feel free to check out the babysitting jobs available and apply online now!