The Differences between a Nanny vs Babysitter

July 29th, 2022 by

Mom and Dad with baby and nannyAs one of the leaders in domestic staffing, it is not uncommon for us to answer questions from families new on their hiring journey. One of the most commonly asked questions from families is, “what is the difference between a babysitter and a nanny?”

Although at first glance nanny and babysitter may seem like interchangeable job titles, the truth is these are two quite different caregiving roles. So what are these differentiating details?


While both nannies and babysitters are responsible for the safety and wellbeing of their charges, working as a professional nanny entails far more detailed care, daily tasks, and accountability. Some of the duties a nanny may complete during their typical daily routine at work could be early morning school drop-off, running errands, scheduling after-school activities, monitoring milestones and meeting a child’s needs accordingly, handling developmental activities, meal planning and preparation for the children, and all childcare-related housekeeping. A nanny is far more hands-on and involved in a child’s day-to-day life and works closely with parents to ensure children’s needs are being met. Depending on parenting styles and expectations, nannies may serve as an extension of parents regarding discipline and setting healthy boundaries for children. Parents may rely heavily on nannies for daily support, implementing sleep and feeding schedules, handling supplemental educational materials, and reinforcing the family’s values and beliefs. Many nannies who work with families long-term transition into a family assistant role once children are in school full time.

In contrast, the babysitter’s responsibilities tend to revolve around keeping children safe and supervising or facilitating play on an as-needed and on-call basis.  While parents may ask for additional tasks to be done from time to time, the immediate focus is on the temporary charge of the children and keeping them safe and entertained.


Often, nannies are full-time employees for a family. On average, a full-time nanny can work anywhere from 40-50 hours a week, depending on the family sometime even more! While some nannies work part-time for two families or work full-time in a nanny-share capacity, most often nannies are full-time employees of one employer.

As mentioned earlier, babysitters tend to work on an as-needed basis. Usually, a babysitter is someone who can come a few times a week or during an evening to cover a special occasion, shorter hours, and for temporary childcare. A babysitter may be someone who works for many different families and/ or is a local college student, high school student, working professional looking to make extra money in the evening hours, or a retiree looking for a few hours of work each week.

Experience and Credentials

A full-time career nanny may be someone who has an advanced background in childcare or advanced collegiate degrees. Some families may only be interested in hiring a full-time professional with a background in early childhood or elementary education such as a former teacher. Some families look for a nanny who has years of experience working with newborns and has completed varied courses in infant water safety, car seat installation, or is fluent in multiple languages. Private, professional childcare providers have spent years investing in themselves and in their careers and may have unique skill sets and talents that can add value to their nanny charges’ lives.

Throughout the years, most professionals can trace back their employment history to their first high school babysitting gig. Babysitters tend to be entry-level positions and families do not expect a sitter to have advanced collegiate degrees or extensive and specialized training.  Typically, a basic CPR and First Aid course and a foundational understanding of childcare are sufficient.

Long-term Goals

The last factor to consider when trying to understand the difference between a nanny and a babysitter is what that person’s long-term plan may be.

Professional nannies are building long-term careers in the private childcare and domestic staffing industry. They may intend to stay in the industry until they’re ready for retirement and have a genuine passion and skill set that they have spent years fine-tuning. Some nannies may be former educators looking to work in a more 1:1 dynamic setting to encourage their charges to reach their fullest potential. Nannies of younger children may see their positions naturally evolve into a family assistant, household management, and/ or personal assistant role, as the children need less support when they go to school. Nannies are incredibly adaptable and versatile professionals who can transition into a number of careers if they choose to.

A babysitter may be someone who is a full-time student and is actively working towards a career in a field outside of childcare or someone who genuinely loves children but is not looking to work as a full-time domestic employee.

Both nannies and babysitters serve incredibly important roles in their charges’ lives but there are clear differences between a career in nannying and a per-diem or part-time job as a babysitter. It is important to point out that there are times nannies and babysitters may overlap. If your nanny calls out sick and you are not able to get out of work for the day, this may be the time you’d rely on your on-call babysitter! Perhaps your nanny has a set schedule every week and you use a babysitter for date nights! At the Nanny Authority, we are always happy to answer your questions about the nuances in the industry. Maybe you will realize after talking with one of our counselors you require a nanny and we would love to help make the process smooth and easy for you and your family! Call us or email us to learn more today at 973-466-2669 or