What is the difference between a nanny and a babysitter?

Girl with magnifying glass

A nanny is an experienced professional who provides ongoing childcare, while a babysitter usually provides short-term or casual care for children.

Very often the terms babysitter and nanny are used interchangeably in Australia. This is understandable because the roles and responsibilities of a babysitter and nanny do overlap significantly.

What is a nanny?

A nanny cares for children, as her professional career. She has typically worked in the childcare industry for many years or has raised children of her own.

A nanny usually works longer hours caring for children, mostly in a permanent part-time or full-time capacity. A nanny will often work with a family for the long term, usually for at least one or more years.

In terms of qualifications, a nanny will often have a certification in childcare, or extensive experience caring for children.

A nanny takes sole charge, caring for children on a daily basis. The role will include all aspects of the children’s care, activities, health and wellbeing.

A nanny is usually responsible for planning and implementing activities, to ensure that the children have a suitable educational environment that supports their development appropriately.

A nanny usually becomes a valued part of the family, involved in raising the children through many ages and stages.

There are a range of areas that nannies specialise in including

  • Live out nanny
  • Live-in nanny
  • Night nanny
  • Newborn or maternity nanny
  • In-home educator nanny (an Australian government program for eligible families to get subsidised carers. An agency is required to apply for this funding. Please note Find A Babysitter does not do this).

For more information about what is a nanny, please refer to our helpful guide.

What is a babysitter?

A babysitter usually refers to a person who cares for children in a casual or part-time capacity. She is typically less experienced than a nanny.

A babysitter usually works shorter hours in a casual role. It may not necessarily be a long-term arrangement.

In the past a babysitter usually referred to a carer who babysat in the evenings or on a weekend. The definition is broader in recent times to cover the various day and night hours that a babysitter might cover.

A babysitter may not have a childcare qualification. She or he might be studying or working in another field and babysits children as a casual or part-time job.

A babysitter usually takes sole charge when caring for children, but with some guidance from the parents.

Is a nanny or a babysitter the right choice for my family?

Ultimately the job description and the carer’s knowledge, skills and abilities will determine the best match for your family, regardless of whether she or he has the title of babysitter or a nanny.

That said, if you are seeking a carer for a permanent position, with sole responsibility for children, then an experienced nanny is usually the best choice. This is because a nanny will be more knowledgeable and skilful in managing all aspects of caring for children in the home.

If you are seeking a casual or part-time carer to help with occasional work then a babysitter will be best.

What are the costs of a nanny compared to a babysitter?

Rates per Hour Nanny Agency Find A Babysitter site
Nanny Rates (daytime) $34-44 / hr $25-35 / hr
Babysitter Rates (evening) $38 / hr x 4 hr minimum $25-30 / hr
After School Care Rates $38 / hr $28 - 35 / hr

Typically a nanny who has more experience in childcare will have a higher hourly rate than a babysitter. But this may not always be the case, as hourly rates are influenced by many factors.

Higher hourly rates are usually charged if:

  • Experience: The carer has years of experience.
  • Qualifications: The carer has a qualification in childcare or a related field (teaching, nursing).
  • Skills: A significant level of skill is needed (caring for babies, toilet training toddlers).
  • Responsibility: The carer has significant responsibility (sole charge, driving a car).
  • Number of children: There are a number of children being cared for (twins, several children).
  • Ages of the children: If babies and young children are being cared for, a more experience carer is needed.
  • Duties of the role: If the duties or responsibilities of the role are significant it will influence the hourly rate (driving a car, caring for a child with medical issues).
  • Time of the day or night: The shift is at an unusual time of the day (after school care, before school care, overnight).
  • Length of shift: The shift is very short or is a split shift.
  • Day of the week: The work is on a weekend or public holiday.
  • Permanent vs Casual: Permanent nanny roles that include entitlements (e.g., annual leave and sick leave) may have a lower hourly rate compared to casual roles that usually carry a 25% loading.
  • Independent Contractors or Employees: If a nanny is an employee she will be working under a set award (the Miscellaneous Award is the one that applies) with set rates and benefits, plus super and workcover. If a carer works as an Independent Contractor her rates may be higher as she is not covered by an award and must allow for her own sick leave etc.
  • Through a Nanny Agency or not: If a nanny is engaged through an agency there will be additional costs that the agency charges on top of the nanny’s hourly rates. These usually include admin fees ($100+) placement fees ($1000 - 4000) and payroll fees. The hourly rates charged by the agencies are usually higher than Independent Contractors.

Please note Find A Babysitter is not an agency. The babysitters who list on our site are usually Independent Contractors. Our site is an efficient and affordable job posting site to help parents find a match for their family. Once the parents find a babysitter or nanny, they interview, select and employ the nanny directly.

What are the qualifications for a nanny or a babysitter?

A nanny or babysitter does not need any formal qualifications to work in the family home.

Some nannies may have qualifications in childcare or related fields. The most relevant childcare qualifications are a Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care, and a Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care. These are offered at TAFEs and universities in every state in Australia.

Many nannies and babysitters listed on Find A Babysitter have studied or are studying in areas that are related to childcare. This includes teaching, allied health and nursing. Others have qualifications in different areas that can be a great addition to the family, including arts, dance, music and languages.

In addition to any formal qualifications, the best measure of a carer is the individual’s skills, knowledge, character strengths and competence.

What are the duties of a nanny or a babysitter?

Parents can negotiate the exact responsibilities involved in a nanny job or babysitting job.

Both nannies and babysitters can undertake a range of duties including things like:

  • Children’s snack and meal preparation
  • Supervising and playing with the children
  • Helping children get dressed
  • Taking the children on outings
  • Driving the children to and from activities
  • Bath and bedtime routine
  • Reading stories together

Can a nanny or babysitter drive as part of the job?

Yes both nannies and babysitters can drive children as part of the role. The details of the driving should be specified in the job description, including addresses, distance and time of the day. Parents may seek to view a drivers license, check the driver has a clean record and a safe, serviced, fully insured vehicle. Parents may also offer to loan their own car, particularly if child car seats are required. If driving is part of the nanny job this may increase the carer’s hourly rate, due to the responsibility involved and the cost of using the vehicle and petrol.

Does a nanny or a babysitter do cleaning?

A nanny or babysitter’s role is usually focused primarily on caring for the children. Light cleaning tasks that relate to childcare are typically included in the role. E.g., preparing children’s meals, washing the children’s dishes, wiping kitchen surfaces, folding the children’s clothes, tidying the toys, cleaning up after craft activities.

Will a nanny or babysitter prepare meals?

Usually a nanny or babysitter is responsible for preparing the children’s meals. This might be making simple meals from scratch. Or heating and serving prepared meals that the parents have provided. This can be negotiated individually with the nanny or babysitter, depending on her or his skills and the time available during the shift.

Can nannies or babysitters do housekeeping?

A housekeeper is usually responsible for the running of a household and associated tasks. A nanny or babysitter is usually more focused on childcare. Often these two roles are separate jobs with different hours and responsibilities. Some nannies, however, may be able to offer housekeeping in addition to childcare, depending on their skills and experience.

Do nannies and babysitters need a Working With Children Check?

Yes, nannies and babysitters must have Working With Children Checks, in all Australian states and territories. By law any person doing child-related work requires a current Working with Children Check (Blue Card in Qld, or Ochre Card in N.T.). Some nannies or babysitters choose to get a ‘Police Check’ too, but this is not required. Please see our Working With Children Checks guide for more information.

If you are looking for a babysitter or nanny we welcome you to join and post a job at Find A Babysitter.