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

Are you the babysitter” 

Have you ever heard that question? Have you ever said that to the person caring for someone’s child? 
Most nannies, when asked that question, think to themselves

…. Umm, no. I’m actually the nanny, which means something completely different. I love these kids and am with them all the time. Their basically my own children. I don’t even know where to start on the difference between a nanny and a babysitter…” 


Have you ever experience that feeling as a nanny? Or have you had someone ask you what the difference is when you inadvertently corrected them? Are you the parent trying to understand what the difference is and which one is a better match for you and your needs? 

Nannies and babysitters are different. One isn’t better than the other and there are advantages to both.

  • What are the differences,
  • Which one is right for you?

Let’s take a look at answering those questions together.

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Short Term v. Long Term

With a babysitter, you aren’t committing to one person for a long time. You don’t have to build a relationship or worry as much about the influence they’ll have on your kids. You don’t have to worry about explaining the intricacies of your family dynamic. They don’t have to know the ins and outs of your routines and systems that you’ve set up around the house.

On the other hand, if your children are still young and impressionable and you will need childcare over a longer period of time then having a nanny is the route to go.

With a nanny you will have time to develop a deeper, more meaningful relationship.

The bond between your nanny and children will LAST and help your children prosper. Your nanny will become a part of the family. She (or he) will become like an extension of yourself. This integration helps the household run smoothly and creates a sense of stability for the kids. Stability is one of the keys to developing an environment in which your children will thrive and be happy. No matter how highly rated a one-night babysitter is, it can always be stressful having a stranger in the house. Having consistent rules and people help create comfort, for parents and children, which is important in any home.

Price Points

Most babysitters have a lower hourly rate or are even willing to be paid a flat rate. This is because they usually only offer to, quite literally, watch your kids. There you have it – the main difference between a nanny and a babysitter.

On the other hand,

you are going to get more bang-for-your-buck by hiring a nanny.

They usually include in their services:

  • cleaning
  • meal prep
  • tutoring
  • entertaining your kids

As your nanny becomes more familiar with your kids’ routines and how the house is run, they will likely become more helpful. Your nanny will have more free time once they figure out how to get the kids down for their naps smoothly and quickly. With this free time, your nanny will also be able to find little things around the house to clean while the kids are deeply involved in their art project. A skilled nanny will be able to notice children’s habits and implement new organizational systems throughout the house. Overall, they will be able to add to the fluidity of how your house runs.

If you’re looking to better organize your house, contact me for a consultation

Having a babysitter is better for older kids. A younger babysitter may come across more as a peer than as someone sent to watch them.

Because babysitters cost less, it makes more sense to hire one for an older, more independent child for temporary jobs.

Babysitters are excited for every job. This isn’t to say that nannies don’t love their jobs. Most nannies love kids like crazy and love the families they work with. On the other hand, every day for a babysitter is like a first day. The excitement of something new usually motivates them to be creative and come up with a fun activity, which is a definite benefit for the family. The babysitter’s goal is usually to leave a memorable impression on you and your kids, so they will be re-hired in the future. 

Advantages of a Nanny

Nannies have more time with the kids allowing them to become more involved in the child’s development and well-being.

They will learn your kids’ normal behaviors and attitudes; alert to any changes that happen.

Being aware of what your kids are thinking or feeling can help foster a safe and comfortable environment.


Your long-term nanny will be able to come up with awesome projects! Having more time and knowledge about your kids’ interests will produce some super cool activities. They can do more elaborate or even multi-day projects. I’ve done


Having a nanny will give your kids a leg up on getting ready for preschool and kindergarten. Nannies can help with building and following a curriculum of early learning. Having them there regularly will lend to regular “lessons” of the basics. Sometimes, you can even find a nanny that knows another language. And just like that, you have a bilingual kiddo!

Learn the basics to baby sign language to communicate with your kiddo as early in their development as possible.


The trust you build with your nanny is a beautiful thing. Because of the trust you are able to build over time, the kids can do more outings. Getting out of the house and going on an adventure every once in a while is the best!

I’ve taken my kids on hikes at national parks, “road-trips” to little towns nearby, water parks, museums and even cool tinker shops downtown.

These outings keep things fun and interesting. They are also awesome opportunities for learning in fun and exciting ways.

Having this meaningful relationship between your family and nanny is the best part in my opinion. I have kept in touch with all of the families I’ve worked with over the years and I have seen them grow and accomplish goals even after I’m gone. Sometimes, I still have “Rainey date days” with some of the kids I used to regularly nanny. It’s so cool to be a part of their lives and for them to stay in mine!

“Which is Right for Me?”

So, while it may seem like your kids have more fun with a babysitter than a nanny or they are just easier to find, give this some real thought. It really just comes down to what your family is looking for.

If you’re looking for a temporary, excited, responsible adult, then a babysitter is the way to go. However, if you are looking for someone to become a part of your family and invest in the development of your child, finding a nanny is the right path for you.

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