What’s the difference between a nanny and a babysitter?


While it may feel like a minor word choice, utilizing the right term (nanny vs. babysitter) can make a huge difference in your search for the best childcare provider. In order to get the most qualified candidates fast, it’s important to position your role in the most accurate way. This will draw in the best candidates for the job you’re looking for.

What is a nanny and what does a nanny do?

By definition, nannies are people, usually with special training, who are employed to care for children in a household. Nannies care for children physically, socially and emotionally on a regular, and often pre-determined, basis. Common nanny responsibilities include preparing bottles or meals, supporting with diaper changes, entertaining the children with educational and engaging activities, and driving children to and from scheduled activities. Given the frequency a nanny comes, they often form close bonds with the family and require less day to day management/instruction.

While a nannies primary responsibilities revolve around the children, they often take on additional duties around the house. These nanny responsibilities can range from light housekeeping to shopping.

What is a babysitter and what does a babysitter do?

By definition, a babysitter is a person who looks after a child or children while parents are out. A babysitter works far more intermittently and on an as-needed basis, but similar to nannies, focus on the overall well being of the children. On a day to day basis, a babysitters role is to keep the kids safe and engaged while the parents are out, and their responsibilities can include everything from meal preparation to bedtime routines.

Since babysitters often work with families less frequently, they often require more instruction and direction.

What’s the difference between a nanny and a babysitter?

As you can see, by definition, the difference between a nanny and a babysitter are not all that obvious. Often times, that’s why some people use them interchangeably. As you can see clearly outlined in’s guide, the largest difference between a nanny and a babysitter revolves around the number of hours worked and often times, the extent of responsibilities expected of that person. Below, we’ve outlined the biggest difference between a nanny and a babysitter:

  • Hours & Scheduling: Babysitters typically worked on an as-needed basis. More often than not, babysitters do not have a pre-set contract in place with families. Nannies typically have a pre-set schedule they follow with the family. More often than not, a nanny has a contract in place for a longer duration of time.
  • Vacation Time & Benefits: More often than not, babysitters do NOT get paid holidays or vacation time off. Alternatively, a nanny vacation and sick days look similar to those in a more corporate setting – and often come with various added benefits.
  • Salary & Payment Schedule: While hourly rate is often fairly similar for babysitters and nannies, the total annual income and payment schedule often looks very different. While babysitters often get paid as they work, nannies get paid by the week or month. Given the frequency in which nannies work, they often have a much higher annual salary. It’s important to call out that while babysitters rarely have taxes taken out, nannies usually do. If you are interested in learning about the average monthly nanny salary, we’ve included a reference guide here. 
  • Guidance / Instruction: Given how the frequency in which they come, nannies often require more upfront instruction, but far more hand holding further down the line.

To learn more, reference’s guide on some of the primary differences between a nanny and a babysitter.

How to decide if you want to hire a nanny or a babysitter

When deciding if you want to hire a nanny or a babysitter, we recommend asking yourself the following questions:

  • How often do you need childcare?
  • What household support do you need?
  • How involved do you want to be?
  • How much are you looking to spend on childcare?

If you decide to move forward with a nanny, we’ve put together this guide to support you in your search.

Whether you’re looking for a nanny or on-call care, our team at Town + Country Resources is here to help in the CA and Austin, TX metros. Contact us now.