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Nanny vs Babysitter

What's the Best Choice for Your Little One?

By Erin Ollila

There’s a lot to think about when it goes into determining who will help you care for your little one. At this point, you may have narrowed your options down to either babysitting or a nanny, but now that you’re in the final stretch of decision-making, you’re having a hard time choosing between the two and figuring out who will best suit your family.

Nanny vs babysitter—which profession will “win”? While they’re both great choices for any family, the job set-ups and responsibilities can vary greatly between the two. Here are a few differences to help you make your final decision.

How Much Time Do You Need From Them?

One of the first things to consider before interviewing anyone is the amount of time you’ll need a caregiver. Are you looking for someone to take over for you when you go to the office or work in your home? If this will be a regular, consistent, full-time commitment, then a nanny is the best option for your little one.

However, if you need care to fill in the gaps for you, a babysitter may be the right call. Babysitters are available for infrequent, short-term requests, such as date nights when you’ll be gone for a few hours at most. If you currently have a family member or a friend watching your little one, onboarding a babysitter to fill the gaps when they aren’t available can be helpful.

Do You Want a Curriculum or Open Activities?

Even though your little one is young, you’ll want to make an effort to design their day in a way that fosters a love of learning and a curiosity for their environment. Babies and toddlers grow through play and structured activities, just as older children do in classrooms. However, there are so many options to accomplish the type of day you’ve dreamt up.

For example, you might be an advocate for open activities, putting your children in charge of the type of fun and learning that interests them the most. Or, you may want to structure the day more and would like your child to explore different stations, such as a scheduled craft, story or science time.

One of the biggest differentiators in the babysitting vs nanny decision is what they do with your little one when your baby or toddler is under their care.

Nannies are usually responsible for developing a curriculum of sorts—either planning in tandem with parents or on their own—for what the child will do during their time together. They are highly involved and take shared responsibility in your child’s intellectual and emotional growth.

While some babysitters are hands-on and enjoy planning activities, it’s not considered their responsibility. In general, babysitters will follow a schedule or activity suggestions the parents predetermined. They, of course, want to see your baby or toddler enjoying themselves, but it isn’t their duty to plan out what they’ll learn or experience.

Last Minute Requests

Did you just get last-minute tickets to a concert? Are you trying to decide between a nanny vs babysitter to look after your little one while you’re gone? In a situation like this, it’s best to have a trusted babysitter on call for last minute requests.

Nannies often work on a set schedule, and because of this, they may or may not be available for late-in-the-game requests—especially if they’ve already put in a full week of work for you.

Though, this is a great question to ask of your nanny in advance. Have a discussion during the hiring process to find out if they are available for unscheduled life events, especially if you are able to give them notice. Your children won’t feel anxious about your leaving if they’re already comfortable with their nanny.

Which brings up a great point if you choose to hire a babysitter instead. It’s important to introduce your little one to any childcare prior to the big event so they feel at ease with them. If you want a babysitter to fill in for a nanny or anyone else, hire them to come before the event while you are home so they won’t feel like a stranger when the time comes. Your baby or toddler will do great in your absence, especially if they have an earlier introduction!

The easiest way to differentiate between a nanny vs babysitter is to think about the frequency of their involvement in your little one’s life. Both are responsible for providing a safe, stable, and caring environment for your baby or toddler. A nanny will usually be a more permanent fixture in a little one’s life, whereas a babysitter might be a short-term or less frequent caregiver.

If you’re leaning toward a nanny, a nanny share can be a great option! Learn more about Guidepost at Home Nanny Shares.

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