Nanny or Babysitter?

When faced with the necessity of hiring a childcare provider, families often question whether it is a nanny they need, or a babysitter. Many families assume the positions are the same, and some underestimate the difference in job description and duties between the two. However there are a few key distinctions between a nanny and a babysitter, and understanding the differences can assist families in knowing which they need in order for their household to thrive. Labeling the need for a nanny and a babysitter also distinguishes the candidate pool based on experience, education and job duties able to be performed.


The biggest difference between a nanny and a babysitter lies in the amount of hours worked. A nanny can be full time or part time, but maintains a consistent, set schedule. A babysitter is considered more freelance and works exclusively on an as-needed basis. If your family’s needs for a caregiver are more sporadic, chances are you’re looking for a babysitter. If you need someone every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8am until 1pm, you require a nanny. Based on their schedule and pay, it is also important to note that you must pay legally.


Babysitters are considered entry-level childcare providers. While it is encouraged, it is not necessary for a babysitter to have any formal training, certifications or experience in order to practice. A nanny, however, will have worked in the industry for at least five years with paid, professional, long term experience outside of looking after family members. A nanny most likely got their start in the industry as a babysitter.  

“Both nannies and babysitters, regardless of background, education or experience, have big hearts with compassionate and nurturing personalities that lend their strengths to the fostering of children.”


Serious, professional career nannies often have formal training and certifications, such as Early Childhood Development credits, certifications in CPR and First Aid, and most will even have a college degree. Babysitters, on the other hand, do not have a set standard for education, as they are typically high school aged and have other priorities and ambitions outside of childcare. 

Job Duties

Both nannies and babysitters are responsible for providing safe, caring and nurturing environments for the child to thrive in. However, there are differences in the level at which this care is provided. Nannies are educators, tutors, role models taking an active role in the child’s life and assisting in development in the long term. They transport to and from school, they make meals, they schedule doctor’s appointments and playdates, they monitor development and foster academic, social and emotional growth, they initiate good hygiene practices, and they oversee and engage in activities, crafts and sports. Babysitters’ duties are usually limited due to their experience and the inconsistency of their schedule. A babysitter’s duties are typically geared more towards the short term, like making dinner, engaging in play or watching movies, bathtime and putting children to sleep.

Career Goals

Another main difference between nannies and babysitters is in their long term career goals. Babysitters are usually out for a paycheck to support themselves in their other interests, but that doesn’t mean they are not excellent and nurturing caregivers. Nannies, on the other hand, have chosen the profession as a long term career and therefore put the investment in themselves as such. They are often a part of nannying communities, take childcare classes, attend conferences and seminars and put an active investment in their professional development

Both nannies and babysitters, regardless of background, education or experience, have big hearts with compassionate and nurturing personalities that lend their strengths to the fostering of children. Whether your family’s needs require a babysitter or a nanny, reach out to us to help you in your search for your perfect caregiver. 

Share this post