Babysitting is a great side hustle that is pretty easy to get started with! Many of us started our babysitting careers as young kids or teenagers by babysitting family members or children of our parents’ friends that knew us already.
The best babysitters are natural leaders who can communicate clearly with adults and younger children. Being able to problem solve and stay calm in chaotic or emergency situations can help reduce stress. These skills are built over time and build confidence!
Ready to dive into exploring babysitting as an option?
How to Get Started Babysitting as a Kid
Most parents will want to hire a babysitter over a certain age, has certifications and training as a babysitter, and specific skills that you can bring to the job that will help you be successful.
Minimum age: Maryland is the only state with a legal age to watch children, and that age is 13. To take the American Red Cross babysitting basics course, you must be at least 11 years old. Our recommended age to start this side gig (depending on where you live and what local regulations are) is 11, but it’s ultimately up to you and your parents to decide.
Certifications: Parents want to know that they are leaving their children with someone that can care for the kids properly, so they look for specific certifications and training. The cost to participate in these courses is between $45 and $95, depending on the course. The American Red Cross Babysitting courses teach on how to confidently:
- Handle emergency situations
- Give care to infants and small children
- Build skills to choose age-appropriate activities
- Respond to a broad range of behaviors appropriately
- Start your babysitting business the right way
- Become a leader
- Keep yourself and those around you safe
- Develop basic First Aid skills
Handbooks are given at each babysitting course that you can carry to your babysitting gigs because each one has helpful information that can be used for reference.
CPR: The minimum age to become CPR certified through the American Red Cross is 16 and is valid for 2 years. This course (cost $35) teaches life-saving skills for emergency situations for adults, small children, and infants.
For kids younger than 16 interested in babysitting as a side gig, the babysitting courses teach some first aid skills that you can showcase to potential customers.
Stand out from the crowd: Having the following things are not required but could set you apart as a professional compared to your peers that might not be able to provide these:
- References from gigs you have done recently. Ask the reference first to make sure they are ok with you giving out their information to your potential future clients. Give your potential clients: Reference’s name, job title at work (or how you know them), work address or company name, contact phone number, best time to reach them to verify the reference.
- Resume. A resume is a 1-page document that highlights your work experience, professional training, and certifications that you have worked to get as well as when they expire. Volunteer work can be included as long as it involves working with children. Examples include reading to kids groups at the local community center or tutoring younger learners at your school.
- State Issued ID, Driver’s License, or Student ID from school. Having an ID to prove that you are who you say you are to parents that are concerned for the welfare of their children speaks volumes. Obtaining a driver’s license when you’re old enough and having access to a vehicle can increase the number of jobs that you qualify for because some parents are looking for before and after school care for kids that need to be picked up from school or afterschool programs.
What to Set Your Rate at for Babysitting as a Kid
This will largely depend on your age, location, what hours you are available to watch kids, and experience level. Our babysitting survey for kids, where thousands of kids told us what they charge for babysitting and how they choose their pricing, revealed that.
- 52% of kids leave the hourly rate up to the parents of the kids they babysit
- 43% make their own rate, and
- 6% use another approach to figuring out their rate.
When first starting out with little experience and no certifications as a kid babysitter, $3-$5 per hour for 1 child is customary and $1-$2 extra per hour can be added on for each additional child that you’re babysitting.
For example, suppose you are watching 3 kids for 5 hours. In that case, you can expect to make $15-$25 for the first kid and $10-20 for the additional 2 kids for a total of $25-45 for the entire 5 hours of babysitting.
To find the best rate for you, talk to your friends and other kids in your neighborhood about what they get paid for babysitting and how they have set up their babysitting businesses.
What resources do they use and what services do they provide to their babysitting customers?
Do they watch kids at their house or at the kids’ house?
Are snacks provided by the babysitter or the parents?
Do your friends help with meal prep or light house cleaning during their babysitting gig so they can charge a higher hourly rate?
As you gain more experience, you can charge higher rates which will put more money in your pocket from your babysitting side gig!
Tips for Being a Successful Babysitter
- Don’t agree to every job. Interview with the family before accepting a job and make sure it falls in with your comfort level and experience. Yes, they are interviewing you to make sure you are a good fit but you are interviewing them, too, to make sure that they are a good fit for you. Know your limitations and set healthy boundaries. Ask specific questions so you know what will be expected from you and meet the children. Take time to interact with them and see how they respond to you.
- Communicate clearly. Make sure you have good contact numbers for the parents before they leave the house and are open to receiving texts or calls from you if you have concerns about the children. Ask the parents for help if you can’t find something while watching their children or if a child is having an issue that you haven’t been successful in handling on your own. Tell the parents if a child discloses something to you like they are being bullied in school or have emotions that they need help working through.
- Be prepared. Ask for a list of the children’s allergies, emergency contacts that can be contacted if the parents cannot be reached, and the doctor’s information. Know what toys could be potential choking hazards and make sure the space you are watching kids in is safe for that age group. Remove anything from the area that is not age appropriate.
- Stick to the routine. Kids respond very well to routines and every family has a different routine. Ask the parents to write down the routine and stick to that schedule. Consider buying a planner to keep track of every child’s routine if you plan to watch kids long term. Stick to meal times, baths, naps, snacks, play dates, etc. Get permission from the parents ahead of time before allowing any other children to come over to play while you’re babysitting.
- Have fun! Don’t be the babysitter that sits the kids in front of a TV or game while you play on your phone or you may not be invited back to watch the kids again. Plan out activities or get the kids outside for play time. There are lots of ideas for activities based on age on YouTube or parenting websites. Be careful to keep small objects away from infants and toddlers. Engage children with clean up from each activity to help build positive life skills.
How to Find Babysitting Jobs in Your Neighborhood
Word of mouth is the best form of advertising for any business. Ask your parents or close family members for referrals to their friends that have younger kids. To gain experience, offer to watch your own siblings or family members’ kids in exchange for a good reference to future clients.
If your family and friend network is small, consider asking other adults in your life like teachers or coaches.
Create creative fliers to hang at your school, church, or youth center that advertise your services. Keep fliers professional but consider using fun graphics or bright colors to draw attention.
Books to Learn About Babysitting as a Kid
Super Sitter’s Playbook: Every babysitter could use a manual for their trade, and this is it! Included are easy-to-make recipes, fun games to play with children, engaging crafts, and how-tos that help handle specific challenges from children that don’t want to go to bed to arguments between children.
Amelia’s Back-to-School Survival Guide: This book is a spunky story about two teenagers’ first journey into babysitting children for their first client. Everyone has to have their first experience, so why not read about how they handled theirs?
How to Babysit a Grandma: The perspective of this story is from the child’s point of view when they are babysat by their grandmother. Reviews of this story rave about the how-to guides from a child’s perspective on what is fun and engaging while spending time with a caregiver.
A Smart Girl’s Guide: Babysitting – the Care and Keeping of Kids: A guidebook with tips and tricks from experienced babysitters on caring for children, important safety tips, and how to get a picky eater to eat their dinner.
Babysitting Business Secrets: Expert advice on how to turn a hobby into a thriving business by setting your own schedule, tracking clients, learning best practices for childcare, resume/interview tips to land the job, basic advertising of your services, and determining your rate to charge clients.
Babysitting is a great way to make extra money as a kid and learn how to be an entrepreneur! Skills gained while babysitting will help later in life and build confidence by interacting with adults on a business level. The key to success is treating this side gig as a business rather than a hobby. We can’t wait to hear about your experiences!