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Using a Babysitter as a Daycare Provider

Study after study has revealed that children who receive high quality, consistent childcare do better than those who don’t. But for some parents, hiring a full-time nanny just isn’t an option, and sending their child to daycare is a choice they dread. In these cases, hiring a qualified babysitter may be the best childcare solution.

While the terms nanny and babysitter are often used interchangeably, each operates in a very different role. While nannies typically serve as team players in helping to raise children, babysitters are usually just responsible for keeping the children safe and entertained while in their care. While nannies work with parents to devise appropriate schedules and provide age-appropriate opportunities, babysitters typically execute the care giving instructions provided by the parents. As such, babysitters are paid a lower hourly rate than nannies, making hiring a babysitter an affordable option for parents who desire in-home childcare.

For parents who need a caregiver for a few hours a few days per week or need a caregiver so they can enjoy a night out on the town, babysitters are a suitable childcare choice. For working parents, babysitters who provide “gap coverage” by caring for their children between the time when they leave for work and school starts and the time between when school ends and they get home from work are true lifesavers. Parents who have older children who require afterschool care and those who need backup care for when their regular childcare arrangements fall through have also come to rely on babysitters to meet their childcare needs.

Hiring a babysitter has many benefits. Unlike in a daycare arrangement where the parents are the clients of the provider, with babysitters, parents are the employers and as such can determine the schedule, compensation, duties and responsibilities of the babysitters. Since parents are the employers, they also get to hand select and independently screen who will be caring for their children. Depending on how much the babysitter is paid per calendar year (more than $1200 for 2012), the parents may also have employer tax responsibilities.

10 Reasons Hiring a Babysitter is Better than Using a Daycare

Deciding what type of childcare to use can be challenge. Parents must balance finding an affordable childcare option with securing the highest quality of care for their children. Although daycare is a popular option among many working parents, hiring a babysitter has several advantages.

  1. Babysitters can provide personalized care. At a daycare your child is lumped in with several other children. Daycare workers stay very busy meeting the needs of all of the children instead of focusing solely on those of just your child.
  2. Babysitters come to your home. Using a babysitter allows a child to stay in their own home environment, which means she can take naps in her own bed and remain in a familiar setting. For younger children especially, having a babysitter in their home rather than going to an unfamiliar daycare is an easier transition from being watched by a parent.
  3. Babysitters offer flexibility. Parents using a babysitter can set their schedule, rather than needing to work around the daycare schedule where there is a specific time to drop off the kids and pick them up.
  4. Babysitters can be more affordable. For parents of several children, babysitters can be less expensive because you aren’t paying by the slot.
  5. Babysitters can provide a stress free transition. Children are often much more at ease in a setting with a babysitter than at a daycare. Daycare settings are full of unfamiliar children, and the moods of the other children can affect a child’s own feelings about daycare.
  6. Babysitters can provide your child with more attention. A babysitter will be able to supervise a child more closely and interact with a child more than a daycare worker who must divide her attention.
  7. Babysitters play by your rules. Babysitters can be asked to enforce family rules in regards to snacks, screen time and bedtime. At a daycare, the workers get to determine what is acceptable and what is not, and these rules may not be consistent with your family’s preferences.
  8. Babysitters can help develop skills. While some daycare programs do use a curriculum, many do not. A family can ask a babysitter to read certain books or work on specific learning skills with a child. This emphasis on learning, and especially on literacy, can help children be more prepared for school.
  9. Babysitters don’t charge additional fees. With babysitters, it is up to the parent to determine the sitters hours. While parents are often required to pay a per minute fee if they’re late for daycare pickup, that’s not the case with sitters.
  10. Babysitters can help keep kids healthy.  Germs and illnesses are passed around in daycare facilities and can often make children sick, which results in parents missing work.

While babysitting has several advantages over daycare, if parents are looking for full-time in-home childcare, a nanny may be a more suitable choice. Babysitters typically keep the children safe and entertained while in their care, while nannies are concerned with the physical, emotional, social and cognitive development of the children and play an active role in contributing to the children’s health and development on a daily basis.