I don’t need to tell you how often the babysitter vs nanny debate comes up, especially if you have friends who swear by one and others who would go to war for the other.
When it comes to caring for our precious little ones, several options are available depending on how much money you have to spend and what kind of care you want for your child. I’m personally partial to a reliable daycare center, but sometimes, I want the kids taken care of in my home. That’s where the babysitter vs nanny issue comes into play.
Like most of you, I have used both and have come to find there are some subtle yet important differences.
What Is a Nanny?
A nanny is a childcare professional with an extensive educational background and training. These people have proper qualifications and, in many cases, certifications.
A nanny can be employed full-time or part-time, depending on your needs. A good nanny can meet almost all of your child’s needs. These professionals care for your precious little one emotionally, physically, and socially. Some nannies are so good they even double down as tutors.
Depending on your needs, you can get a nanny who helps with other tasks such as cleaning, cooking, laundry, and even homework. You could also hire an au pair who lives in-house and is integrated into your family life as a temporary family member.
An au pair typically receives monthly pocket money rather than a salary like a professional nanny since they are provided living accommodations for the duration of their employment with the host family.
What Is a Babysitter?
A babysitter could be anyone, from a professional child caregiver to 16-year-old Rachel from down the street.
*Check this out if you wonder how much to pay a babysitter.*
From this, you can probably gather that a babysitter is anyone you can wrangle into watching your kids for a short while. Their primary job is to ensure the children don’t burn the house down while you are away.
There are some professional babysitting services available, and these offer trained individuals who can do more than just sit and watch TV with your kids.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Hiring a Nanny?
There are a myriad of reasons you would want to hire a nanny.
- Professional: Nannies are trained child caretakers with qualifications and even certifications in some cases. When you hire a professional nanny from a reputable firm, you know you are getting a high-quality and reliable child care provider.
- Consistency: Unlike babysitters (who might wind up having a date on the same day you need to go out for a little bit), a full time nanny is much more consistent. They adhere to the set time and will always be at your house per the schedule you have agreed upon.
- One-on-one attention: Being a trained professional, a nanny will give your children one-on-one attention. This kind of personalized attention helps your child develop both socially and emotionally.
To be honest, if you can afford one, getting a nanny is a brilliant idea. They are better equipped to care for your child than most daycare centers, plus they don’t expose your babies to as many germs.
That being said, there are some downsides to hiring a nanny.
- Cost: Nannies can be quite expensive, considering they are professionals and may have certifications and other qualifications.
- Privacy: Most nannies come to your home and sometimes even live there, which isn’t ideal for many households.
- Socialization: Because a nanny can provide everything your child needs in-house, your baby might miss out on socialization; they don’t get to play with as many children as they would in a daycare facility.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Hiring a Babysitter?
In many cases, paying for a nanny might seem like a stretch for some families, especially if you only need someone to watch the kids for a few hours. That’s where babysitters come into play.
- Convenient: Babysitters are extremely convenient in that you can call one in on short notice and pay for just a few hours of their time.
- Flexible: You don’t have to call a sitter in advance, although this is often recommended. You can find a sitter on the same day you need one instead of finding a nanny, where a lot of vetting and interviewing must occur first.
- Cost-effective: Babysitters are more cost-effective than nannies. You can easily negotiate the pay with a sitter depending on who they are to you.
As convenient and cost-effective as babysitters are, some disadvantages come with hiring one.
- Expertise: Most babysitters are relatives or neighborhood kids you can hire to watch over your children while you quickly run to the store or the movies. These aren’t qualified child caregivers; they are just older and responsible enough to keep your kids safe while you’re away.
- Scheduling: If the idea is to find a full-time childcare provider, a babysitter won’t do.
- Professionalism: You can trust that a nanny will respect your home and treat it as their office. On the other hand, a babysitter might want to get away with things like having their boyfriend or best friend come over while you’re out.
When Do You Need a Nanny?
Before you decide whether you need a nanny, consider what a full time nanny really is: This professional, career-oriented individual has undergone extensive childcare training and is looking for stable hours and a salary.
- Do you need that kind of commitment for your kids?
- Are you away most of the time?
- Do they need help with their homework, socialization, and emotional stability?
- Are you okay with someone else living in or, at the very least, being in your home for the duration you aren’t around?
If the answer to these questions is yes, you should consider hiring a professional nanny as your childcare option. Although nannies are a bit of a financial commitment on your part, having one take care of your kids might be the best course of action for you, especially if you travel a lot or work full-time hours with a very demanding schedule.
When Do You Need a Babysitter?
If you are home often and are your kids’ primary caregiver, you might not need a nanny. What you may need is a babysitter from time to time. You know, when you want to reconnect with your partner, go out for dinner without the kids, go out with the girls, or just get a break. These are when having a babysitter—someone who can temporarily watch over the kids—pays.
Still unsure about which would be the best fit for your family? Try out an occasional babysitter or even daycare part time or full time to get a real feel for what you need. If you find that the occasional babysitter or daycare drop off isn’t enough, it might be time to consider hiring a nanny full time.
As you can probably see by now, the babysitter vs nanny debate will undoubtedly rage on, but at least now you know what to consider when you decide which childcare option is best for your family.