difference between a nanny and a babysitter

The terms are used interchangeably by a lot of people, but “nanny” and “babysitter” mean very different things to most caregivers in Australia. It’s important to understand the difference between a nanny and a babysitter when you are researching or advertising for someone to fill a role in your home. In this post, we will explore the main differences and help you decide which one is best for your family.

Schedule and hours

This is the area where the difference between a nanny and a babysitter is the clearest.

A nanny is someone hired to care for your children in your home on a regular basis. Nannies typically work during the daytime and may work part-time or full-time hours but have a pretty regular roster. A nanny will usually expect their hours to be stable and to give notice before ending a role.

In contrast, a babysitter is an ad hoc or occasional caregiver who is hired to take care of children for a particular shift – often in the evenings. They typically choose when to work and when to say no to a shift, making it a very flexible role with little ongoing commitment.


A nanny is responsible for all aspects of the children’s care – personal care, supporting with learning, arranging activities, providing transport for them, etc. When you hire a nanny they will play a significant role in your child’s overall development and will usually develop a strong bond with your children and family.

One difference between a nanny and a babysitter is that a babysitter’s responsibilities are typically limited to supervising the children, providing basic care, and ensuring their safety. There is a lower standard of care expected, which means that babysitters are often young adults or even teenagers. Babysitters are not usually responsible for any long-term planning and families often use a variety of people to support them in this role.

Education and experience

 The level of training and experience a caregiver has is another key difference between a nanny and a babysitter. While both should hold the basics (such as a Working With Children Check, First Aid, and CPR), nannies will usually have more experience than babysitters working with children and/or hold a qualification in early childhood education or a related field. 

Babysitters, on the other hand, often have no formal training and have limited experience. They should only be expected to have a basic understanding and ability to care for the child, to the level that will keep your children safe.

Pay and employment

The difference between a nanny and a babysitter will mean a difference in the cost and the method you should expect to use to pay them. Nannies will typically expect higher pay, and might be eligible for benefits such as Super and paid time off. They will often be classed as an employee and will need to be employed by your family or an agency. 

Babysitters are often paid a lower overall rate due to a lower level of responsibility – particularly when they have limited experience. They are typically paid in cash or via bank transfer and it is their own responsibility to manage any tax obligations that go along with that informal income.

Sometimes nannies also do babysitting work, which can blur some lines in the difference between a nanny and a babysitter. A nanny might engage differently with children when babysitting – some nannies enjoy this time with children as ‘fun’ time that is more relaxed than a typcial day.

What is the difference between a nanny and a babysitter when it comes to family support?

The relationship between a nanny and a family is an important and often long-lasting one. Your nanny will likely be considered a key member of your household and is often seen as a valued part of the parenting team. It is both an extremely personal relationship and an important professional relationship. When employing a nanny you can build the job description to best meet your needs. In return for being able to give that direction and have certain expectations, parents have the responsibility of providing appropriate employment entitlements to their nanny.

Babysitter engagements are less involved and responsibilities are typically limited to child care. Often families have many babysitters so, while the children will hopefully enjoy their time with each of them, they are not expected to form the kind of bond that a long-term nanny might form.

Now that you understand the difference between a nanny and a babysitter, consider your family’s needs and decide which is best for you – a nanny, a babysitter, or both? If you decide to hire a nanny to support your family, NannyPay can help you with the employment logistics to set you up for success!

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