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Nanny or Babysitter? What’s the Difference?

When it comes to in-home childcare terms and definitions, the terms nanny and babysitter often cause the most confusion. While many people believe a nanny and babysitter are one in the same, this is simply not the case.

Many parents and caregivers new to private service use the terms nanny and babysitter interchangeably, however job descriptions and caregiving roles of each are separate and distinct.

A nanny is a childcare specialist who is employed by parents to provide personalized, customized and attentive care to the family’s children in their private home. Nannies partner with parents to help raise the children and are concerned about the children’s ongoing social, emotional, physical and intellectual growth and development. Depending on the model of nanny care, a nanny may receive specific, daily instructions from the parents or may be in charge of planning the children’s day herself. Nannies typically work 40 to 60 hours per week and may live with the family or live in their own private residence.

A babysitter is hired by the parents to provide a short-term or occasional childcare for the family’s children, typically in their own home. A babysitter may be hired to care for the children for the evening so mom or dad can have some time to themselves or during the week so both parents can attend a school meeting.  While on duty, a babysitter’s main concern is keeping the children safe and engaged until the parents return home. A babysitter focuses on meeting the children’s immediate needs and does so by following the instructions provided by the parents. A babysitter may not have formal childcare experience or training or may be a fully qualified nanny, as many nannies choose to take on babysitting jobs to earn additional income.

While babysitters and nannies may share similar skillsets and levels of experience, it’s their role and responsibilities that really differentiate the two. These differences become especially important when parents begin searching for a private childcare provider.  A parent who hires a babysitter to provide full-time care for her children, for example, will likely end up disappointed in the intensity of care the children receive since a babysitter’s role isn’t to play an active part in forming discipline strategies, educating the children or investing in their ongoing moral growth and development.

For parents who need a few hours of childcare coverage every so often, having a pool of prescreened babysitters to choose from can help to ensure they can secure the childcare they need when they need it most.

At Morningside Nannies, we have a team of prescreened on-call and temporary babysitters and nannies available to meet the care needs of Houston based families. Call one of our placement specialists today to learn more about our babysitting and temporary nanny services at (713) 526-3989.


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Morningside Nannies 3701 Kirby Drive, Suite 989
Houston, TX 77098
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(713) 526-3989
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Morningside Nannies was outstanding. The process was stress free and the caliber of applicants was far superior to that of other agencies. Morningside Nannies was thorough in their review and timely presentation of candidates.
Susan Sherman, CPA