babysitter or nanny

With the array of childcare options available, it’s easy to get confused about what type of childcare will be right for your children. When parents start to consider hiring a private childcare provider, they may start to consider whether they should hire a babysitter or nanny.


A nanny either works full-time or part-time and has full responsibility for the children in the their care. When the parents are out of the house, the nanny will work on a sole charge basis, which means they will look after the children, prepare children meals, make sure children are dressed appropriately, tidy children’s areas and complete nursery duties such as laundry. Nannies may also work alongside parents on a shared charge basis but will still have similar duties.

Nannies are usually trained and have experience working with children of different age ranges. As nannies have responsibility for children in their charge, nannies will usually have attended a first aid course to ensure they are able to provide care in the event of an emergency.

Nannies usually work on a salary basis and can live-in or live-out depending on the family requirements. Nannies that live-in should be offered a separate room (and sometimes their own bathroom) within the family home, or in a separate apartment. Live-out nannies will come to the house for a set number of hours and some evening hours are often agreed upon when parents go out for the evening.

Nannies usually only work with one family (some times two in a nanny share) and they will play with children as well as looking after their educational development by ensuring children are reaching developmental milestones.

Nannies are a great choice for parents who need overnight or proxy parenting care, sometimes at short notice. As nannies know the children well and are comfortable in the family house and routine, they are able to offer this easily and effectively.


Babysitters will offer childcare for multiple families on a part-time basis. They will only work for a few hours at a time, when parents need to be out of the house. A babysitter is paid by the hour as opposed to being salaried, and they may have various families in which they work with.

Babysitters don’t usually have as much responsibility as a nanny and will simply come to the house and play with children for a few hours when needed. Babysitters may make children food if needed whilst they are there but they are generally not paid and expected to complete nursery duties as a nanny would.

Babysitters may or may not be qualified and have as much knowledge about child development as a nanny would so they may not be able to develop children’s developmental milestones as adequately.

Since babysitters only work a few hours, they may not be as flexible and may only be available on a planned basis, whereas nannies are more flexible due to their longer working hours.

Babysitter or Nanny?

Overall when you are looking for childcare, it’s best to consider that you need your child to be happy, stimulated and have their development catered for. A nanny will also maintain your children’s household duties and do what needs to be done where your children are concerned. A nanny will be more flexible where as a babysitter will come as and when and may not be available at short notice.

A nanny will become part of the family due the amount of time spent within the family home, whereas a babysitter will just come and go, this means that they will not know the child as well as a nanny could. Nannies are able to build healthy and long-lasting relation ships with children, which helps build trust between children and the nanny.

Written by Amy: Amy is a British Nanny and Governess with a Background in Childcare and Social Work. She is currently working with a team of Nannies as a Special Needs Governess.