If you like spending time with children and have been considering starting your own babysitting business, this guide will cover what you need to know. Whether you plan to take up babysitting as your full-time job or are looking to make extra money with a part-time side hustle, it is important to set up and run your small business properly from the outset.

This guide will cover what you need to know to have a successful babysitting business, including:

  • What certification and skills you will need to become a babysitter
  • How to make a babysitting business plan
  • How to establish and manage your babysitting business
  • How to run a small business with Skynova's business templates and accounting software

Certifications and Skills Needed to Be a Babysitter

There are no specific skills or certifications that you must have or classes that you need to complete in order to call yourself a babysitter. However, the following will certainly make you more competitive in the marketplace. Some may even be required by certain parents and babysitting service agencies.

  • Babysitting course: The Red Cross offers a babysitting class both online and in person. The course covers the basic knowledge and skills that every babysitter should have, including first aid basics, emergency protocols, an overview of child behavior, and information about age-appropriate activities.
  • First aid certification: Many parents require babysitters to have some background in how to administer first aid to infants and children. The Red Cross offers a number of first aid certification classes.
  • Child CPR certification: Obtaining a CPR-AED (cardiopulmonary resuscitation and automated external defibrillator) certification that covers both pediatric (up to 12 years old) and adults (12 years and older) gives parents and employers peace of mind. Knowing CPR is especially important if you are caring for sick or injured children. You can take the majority of the classwork online but you will also need to fulfill some hands-on training requirements. The American Heart Association, the Red Cross, and other organizations offer classes in CPR and AED.
  • Driver's license: Your babysitting duties may include transporting children to and from school, after-school activities, and other appointments. It is a good idea to have a valid driver's license, insurance, and a dependable vehicle.
  • Aquatics and water safety classes: If you work with children around swimming pools, lakes, the ocean, or other bodies of water, you might want to take classes in aquatics and water safety.

In addition to formal training in child care and safety matters, a good babysitter needs to be a people person. You should be able to:

  • Communicate effectively. As a babysitter, you need to both take direction from the parents and give instructions to the children while you are responsible for them. You must be able to express yourself well and ask for clarification if you don't understand something.
  • Build and maintain trusting relationships. Operating a successful babysitting business requires you to show your trustworthiness. Parents are trusting you with the well-being of their children and you must never let this trust down.
  • Take on responsibilities as necessary. As a babysitter, you will have to be a responsible child-rearing partner. Show up when you are supposed to and complete any extra tasks you are assigned.
  • Keep your energy up. Taking care of kids is exhausting work. You must be able to show that you have the stamina to keep up with your charges.

Making a Babysitting Business Plan

The first step in planning your own babysitting business is developing a business plan that covers:

  • The type of babysitting jobs you want to take on
  • How you will go about finding children to babysit
  • What you will charge and what your startup costs will be

Decide How You Want to Babysit

You will need to decide what type of babysitter you want to be. The two main types are traditional in-home sitters and virtual babysitters. Note that if you are looking to start a home daycare center or run a daycare facility from another location, you will need to think about liability and licensing issues that are outside the scope of this article.

Traditional In-Home Babysitter

A traditional in-home babysitter shows up at the child's home and cares for them while their parents are not home or are otherwise unavailable. In-home babysitting can occur periodically - for example, the parents get in touch when they are going out for the evening and need a sitter - or it can be a regularly scheduled service. Some babysitters take care of the same children every day after school or during set hours or days.

Think about the age of the children you would like to babysit and the type of child care services you are willing to provide. Are you good with infants? Do you prefer older children? Would you feel comfortable being a caregiver to a child with a disability?

Virtual Babysitter

Virtual babysitting is a relatively recent phenomenon. When you virtually babysit, you engage with the child through a video platform like Zoom, Skype, or FaceTime. Usually for children aged 5 and older (younger kids will not be able to keep their focus on the required device for very long), virtual babysitting has taken off during the COVID-19 pandemic for work-at-home parents who need their children looked after while they are on conference calls or engaged with a business matter. As a virtual babysitter, you might read the child a book, help with homework, or even play video games. The idea is to keep the child safely occupied so parents can get their work done.

Finding Children to Babysit

There are many ways to go about finding children to sit for. You might want to consider these marketing strategies:

  • Create a website for your babysitting business. You don't have to be a tech guru to create a simple website to promote your babysitting business. Weebly, Wix, and WordPress offer free website-building platforms designed for the novice. Your website should include a robust About Me page that explains your babysitting experience and any certifications you have gotten and a Contact Me page so that parents can easily get in touch with you. If you have been babysitting for a while and can provide testimonials from parents and even kids, you can also add those to your website.
  • Leverage your social media accounts. Use your Facebook page, Instagram, LinkedIn, and other social media accounts to let friends and family members know you are starting a babysitting business. Ask them for referrals - word-of-mouth advertising is some of the most effective.
  • Create flyers and business cards. You can hand these out to friends, family, and current clients and ask them to pass them on. Post them on community and school bulletin boards.
  • Join babysitter websites. There are numerous babysitting websites and apps that will help you find babysitting clients. For instance:
    • UrbanSitter is a subscription-based nationwide service that helps babysitters connect with families. To accept a position through UrbanSitter, you must agree to a background check. You get to set your rates and you keep all of your pay. The company charges a fee to subscribers and also for facilitating payment.
    • Care.com is another platform that will help you find children in need of a babysitter. They also require their babysitters to undergo a background check and their fees are derived from subscription fees charged to care-seekers.
    • Bambino Sitters requires sitters and parents to register via their Facebook accounts. Sitters must publish their rates and are paid via the app. Depending on your experience, the parent gets charged a $2 or $3 booking fee.

Fees and Cost Considerations

Figuring out how much you should charge as a babysitter is a bit of a challenge. While the average rate in the U.S. for an in-home babysitter is $18.36 per hour for one child and $21.23 per hour for two children, rates can be higher or lower depending on where you are located.

For example, if you plan to start a babysitting business in Las Vegas, expect to be paid around $12.50 an hour for one child and $17 an hour for two. If you babysit in San Francisco, however, you can command the highest hourly rate in the country: just over $21 for one child and about $23.50 for two. If you are not sure what to charge, research your community and check out your competitors to see what others are charging. If you are just starting, you might want to drop your rates for a while until you build up some good reviews.

Like fees, your startup costs will vary. You might need to invest in some toys and items to entertain the children you watch - like coloring books and crayons - if you are going to be doing on-site babysitting. You might also need a reliable car if you will be running errands for the family and taking children to activities.

If you plan to do virtual babysitting, you will need a computer with a webcam and microphone, as well as reliable high-speed internet service.

Unless you are running an actual child care center either in your home or in a dedicated location, you are not required to have your own liability insurance. Many of the online organizations - like Care.com, for example - provide basic professional liability insurance that covers anyone who works through them. The parents' homeowners insurance policy should be sufficient to cover you and the children for any injuries while you are babysitting in their home. If you are working full-time as an independent babysitter, however, you may want to explore getting professional liability insurance on your own for added peace of mind.

Of course, if you will be driving the children around town in your own car, you will need a good auto insurance policy.

Establishing and Managing Your Babysitting Business

You are going to have to make a decision on the legal framework for your business and also set up a system to manage the day-to-day operations.

Deciding on a Legal Framework for Your Tutoring Business

Generally speaking, there are four types of legal entities you can choose for your babysitting business:

  • Sole proprietorship
  • Partnership
  • Limited liability company (LLC)
  • Corporation

Choosing which business entity to go with depends on a number of factors, including how much personal liability exposure you could be subjected to, the tax consequences of your choice, and the expense of keeping all of the required documentation current and properly filed with your state.

As a sole proprietor, you will be taxed at your individual rate but you will have no protection against personal liability. As a corporation, you have the most protection from liability but you also pay more in taxes. An LLC is a comfortable middle ground for many because it allows some protection from personal liability while keeping taxes at your personal rate.

Applying for Tax ID Numbers

In some instances, you will be required to have a federal tax ID or EIN. Even if you are not required to have an EIN, there are reasons to obtain one for your babysitting business. Having an EIN allows you to open a business bank account. Keeping your business account separate from your personal account can be advantageous from both a bookkeeping standpoint and a potential liability standpoint.

Maintaining a Successful Babysitting Business

To run a successful business, you are going to need to develop a system to keep track of business-related paperwork. For example, you might be issuing invoices to parents, collecting payments, and issuing receipts. You will need to account for maintaining equipment - such as a computer for virtual babysitting - and keep track of mileage if you are driving your own car around to run errands for your employer.

Putting all this together can take time away from babysitting. Fortunately, ready-to-use business software - like Skynova's invoice and receipt templates - are available to help small businesses like yours seamlessly manage their business affairs.

You can easily track all of your expenses and income with Skynova's accounting software, which is specifically designed for small business owners with little or no bookkeeping or accounting background.

Spend More Time Babysitting and Less Time on Paperwork With Skynova

Babysitting is about providing a safe and fun environment so that the children under your care can thrive. Babysitting is also about making money doing what you love. The last thing you want to do is spend a lot of uncompensated time dealing with accounting and business paperwork headaches.

With Skynova's online software options and business templates, you can spend less time on the mundane tasks associated with running your babysitting business and more time taking care of your kids.