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Hiring a babysitter or nanny is a helpful way to ensure your children get the care they need while you juggle your busy work schedule. While most people consider these two terms interchangeable, there are actually very distinct differences between the two. Understanding those differences helps you decide which one is better for your family.



The role of people who babysit is to provide temporary custodial care for children on a casual, on-call basis while parents are not at home. They perform basic tasks such as watching over the children to ensure they don’t get hurt, preparing meals and providing snacks, helping with school work and studying, and assisting with bedtime routines.

Parents tend to hire them on an as-need basis, and they typically only watch over the children for a few hours while the parents are out. Babysitting doesn’t require any special training or certifications, and it’s often a side job for most providers and not their primary source of income. More often than not, they are paid on an hourly rate or at an agreed upon amount per session.

While the children can grow attached to the person watching them, they are more of a family outsider and not a permanent fixture in the home.



While these professionals offer much of the same services as people who babysit, they also provide additional resources and serve as a more long-term partner in raising your children. Nannies will often take on additional tasks as well including children’s laundry and light housekeeping, and will sometimes travel with families or provide overnight care if needed.

Rather than simply being a way to make some extra money, nannies make taking care of your children their primary job. That means they are more expensive to hire, but the investment brings with it many benefits.

They don’t just watch your kids on a temporary basis. Instead, they work in a permanent position with longer hours and a more consistent schedule. They almost become another member of the family by helping to nurture your children and facilitating their emotional and intellectual growth.

That’s because most nannies have a degree, experience in early childhood education, or at least long-term childcare experience, so they have a skill set that makes them qualified to do so. They can also have CPR, first-aid and water-safety certifications, so they are better prepared to handle emergencies.