BABYSITTING BASICS: The Going Rate For A Sitter

Hiring someone to take care of your kids so you can enjoy a night on the town or an afternoon away can be a difficult decision. You have to find someone who is trustworthy, someone who is available and figure out how much to pay them.

Tweens and teens recently learned the basics of babysitting. They practiced bottle feeding, burping babies and changing diapers at an American Red Cross Babysitter Training. 5th Grader Ava Taiber said, “I think it’s just a great opportunity to learn how to take care of young children.”

It’s a seven hour session for kids 11 to 15. Instructor David Smith said, “It gives them the knowledge and skills for the safety aspects, but I also think it makes them more comfortable and confident when you do a babysitting job, especially with a stranger.”

The babysitters-to-be learn leadership, responsibility and safety, including CPR training. They also talk about how to get jobs. Smith said, “How to interview with the family, in other words, what do you want me to do? And, I’ll ask questions like what’s your phone number, do you have a first aid kit, where is it, is there a fire escape plan?”

We sat down with a few of the young ladies to talk about something that isn’t always clear. Alice Medick, 13, told us, “You don’t want to by pushy, like how much are you going to pay me? You don’t want to be rude.”

What to pay the babysitter is a touchy topic for babysitters and parents alike. Two of the teens said they expect to make about $3 an hour per kid. One said the going rate is $10 an hour per child. All said they’re willing to negotiate with the parents.

Isabella Main, 12, said, “I’m not really doing it for the money completely, I’m just trying to help my neighbors.”

Three moms from the new Des Moines Moms Blog also sat down to talk about the topic. Angela Squires, a writer and mom of 4, said, “I remember one of the first times we were ready to hire a babysitter, just asking people on Facebook. How much do you pay your babysitter?”

It all depends on how many kids you have, how old they are, and how old your sitter is. Squires told us, “I am getting comfortable now with what’s typical. We tend to go with $10 an hour for four kids.”

Another Des Moines Moms Blogger Jody Halsted said, “We usually pay about $10/hour for the two of them.”

Des Moines Moms Blog Co-Founder Bekah Riker commented, “I feel it’s very important to pay your babysitters well.” She goes on to say, “If it’s all three, I usually do $10 to $12 an hour minimum.”

Experts say to talk about the pay before the sitter starts. And, make sure you go over expectations. Smith said, “What rooms can I go in, what can I not, bed time, medication, stuff like that.”

Also, ask about their training and what you want them to do with your kids. Riker said, “For me, I want them on the ground with my kids interacting.”

That’s something the babysitters say is the easiest part of the job. Main said, “I want to play with them and make sure they’re having a good time.”

The Des Moines Moms Blog writers recommend two online places to find babysitters. Look for your neighborhood’s page on Facebook. Sitters will often post their availability there. Also, the website Care.com lists local sitters’ qualifications.

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