Tipping the Babysitter

Archived Q&A and Reviews



Is tipping the sitter customary?

April 2008

Hi there. I am relatively new to hiring a babysitter and would like to see basic customs when having her just for some occasions for now. 1:Is a sitter expected to receive tips each time you have her? 2: Are you supposed to provide some lunch, dinner and/or snack for her? If it is so, how? 3: How common to ask to do some light housework such as dishes, minor cleaning and laundry? I'd appreciate any tips. yoko

Tipping is not customary or necessary if you're paying a fair wage (depends on age of sitter, age of child, # of children). Providing a meal and snacks is standard, and some people expect a sitter to do dishes after a meal and I don't think that's unreasonable. However, doing a built-up pile of dishes, housecleaning, laundry, etc. are NOT babysitting duties, they are nanny duties. Cece

Babysitting is a service and it is customary to pay for such, usually an hourly fee. If you wish to add a tip above that, by all means, do so. As far as having food, depending on the length of time, providing a meal is not out of the question. If you are going out for the evening before dinner, provide the babysitter with dinner as well as she/he will probably be making sure that your child/children get fed. Housekeeping is a separate type of service, but if the babysitter agrees to doing so, additional compensation should be added. Remember, a babysitter is providing a service to watch your child/children to make sure they are safe while you are gone. Stacy

It sounds as though you may be asking more about nanny care, which I can't address. But as far as sitters go, I have always tipped my sitters 15 percent--and I add time and a half after midnight. That dates back to when I was a sitter and how I expected to be treated.

I also provide dinner for her--which, with my 5- and 8-year-old--is usually pizza or macaroni and cheese. But I order enough pizza for two kids and one adult or make enough mac and cheese for three. I figure she's stuck there for six hours and required to show up at dinner time. This way, she doesn't have to scarf something down at the last minute. She and my kids play together and have a meal together, and I think it works out well. Gwynne

Sitters vary. I have never, as a matter of course, tipped my sitters. Nor have I ever received a tip when sitting. I do give my best, most reliable sitter a little bonus at the holidays and intend to give her a small gift or bonus for her birthday. As far as the food thing, that is totally up to you. You can specify to the sitter what is available and what is not. As to the housework issue, that is also between you and your sitter. If you are wanting that, be sure to discuss it up front when hiring her... don't just expect it. Most sitters are just there to watch the kids and have fun with them and make sure they are safe. anonymous

If your sitter is missing her dinner to feed your child, yes, of course you should provide enough extra food for her to eat, too!! If you hire someone to babysit your child, they are not expected to do your dirty laundry and clean your dirty house at the same time!! If you want someone to clean your house, in this country you hire what is known as a ''housekeeper'' or ''maid''. A ''babysitter'' is someone who ''sits'' with your ''baby'', hence the name ''babysitter''. In your case, I would give the babysitter a huge tip. Sympathetic

We generally just use our college-age sitter for evenings out. I tip a few dollars - round up for the hour - and make sure there are snacks/food available. I usually show her a couple food options and encourage her to help herself to the kitchen. No housework expected. anon

1. You do not tip a babysitter, you pay them an hourly wage. 2. Up to you, but customary (in my experience) to provide meal or snacks for babysitter, depending on time they are sitting. Assume they will share food children are eating if they are feeding the kids (if the food is appropriate for a grown up). Or ask them if they have any meal requirements or restrictions before they come. I often tell the babysitter to just helpo themselves to anything tey would like to eat from the fridge or pantry, or sometimes (if I rememeber) I'll pick up a few pre- made meal items at the grocery store. 3. Again, depends on the babysitter. It is not customary in my experience to ask for housework unless they are a regular nanny/caregiver, but I don't know why not! If they are just putting a young child to bed and ''literally'' sitting, then I don't see any reason why they shouldn't be willing. If the child is older you may want them to only interact with the child. Just ask up front if they are willing. anon

I don't always tip -- it depends on the circumstances. I work in daycare and don't expect (nor want) tips. I like to give bonuses at holidays in the form of gift cards or when they are going on vacations in the form of cash (if they heading out of country, then I give them currency of their destination). But, those are only to regular sitters.

I do let them have the run of the refrigerator while they are working.

I don't expect any housework while they are working except for tidying up any messes that are made during the time they are there. -anon

I don't tip sitters normally, but I do ''round up'' a bit at the end of the night. If they did something unusually special, I probably would tip. I do tell them that they're free to eat or drink anything in the refrigerator, but I don't make anything special for them. (If I come back and they've abused this privilege, I don't hire them again.) As for cleaning, I expect that they will at a minimum clean up any messes that occur on their watch, whether it's theirs or the children's. If the children will be sleeping most of the time, I ask for ''light housekeeping'' tasks, such as doing the laundry or putting dishes in the dishwasher. If the children are awake, I prefer they spend their time with the kids. This is all pretty much what was expected of me long ago, and I think it's reasonable and fair. former babysitter

I think it is nice to round up a little bit if your sitter comes for an irregular length of time, or just a short time, to make it ''worth her while''. If your sitter comes every week for the same amount of time, you should just set a fixed amount. Yes, you have to feed the babysitter. Most baby sitters are fine with eating macaroni or frozen pizza or whatever your kid is having, or being allowed to eat other things from the kitchen. ex-babysitter, now mom

I do not tip but I round up: if a sitter is at my house for 3 hours and 35 minutes, I pay them for four. Or if it works out to $36, I make it $40. And if I ask them to drive for me, I give them some extra money for gas. (Not for just driving to and from my house, but if they are picking up my child at school or doing an errand for me.)

If I ask the sitter to work a long stretch that includes a mealtime (for example, arrive at 5 pm and stay till 10) I tell her what I've got planned for my child's dinner and ask what she'd like. For example, I'm ordering pizza, do you want some, are you OK with pepperoni? Once my son wanted halibut so I told her that I was making it for him, did she want some. She did, so I made it for two. Usually it is just pizza though. If my child will have eaten already (if the arrival time is 7 pm) I tell them so and ask them if they will want dinner. They've always said not to worry about it. Sometimes they go out after I get home at ten! Oh to be young! Snacks are understood to be 'on offer' - take anything you want that doesn't look like I'm planning to have it for dinner the next day. I stock plenty of ice cream - that seems to be popular, and from my own experience, makes a fine dinner.

As for housework, I always tell them I want to come home to a clean kitchen - sometimes that may entail cleaning up a mess I've left. I pay well and everyone has always been fine with that arrangement, but I hire students who are very accommodating. Professional nannies may have a different view, but you can always ask. Fran

When I was young and babysitting, I only received a tip once. I regularly babysat for a family that was friend's with my family. One time they went to Atlantic City (I am a transplant from NJ). Well they won BIG! So, they gave me a tip! It was nice and unexpected and I certainly didn't anticipate it again! anon