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Better hit the ATM before your big night out.

Woman and young girl reading a bookYou’ll need a babysitter, and unless you have a responsible teenager willing to help for free, be prepared to pay a pretty penny. This is not your childhood babysitter who got paid $5 an hour and a chance to raid your fridge ― these are the days of the babysitting big leagues.

According to UrbanSitter’s 2016 National Childcare Rate Survey, the national average hourly rate for a babysitter is $15.71 for one child, $18.07 for two children and $20.31 for three children.

But costs can vary depending on a variety of factors, including where you live and the age and experience level of your sitter.

How much you should pay a babysitter is continually up for debate among parents, and there’s no clear right or wrong answer.

Here are six things to consider when deciding how much to pay your sitter:

  1. Where do you live? On average, sitters in big cities are going to cost more than those in smaller cities or suburbs. According to UrbanSitter’s 2016 National Childcare Rate Survey of 15,000 families, the average babysitter wage paid for one child in New York City is $16.40 per hour, while in Denver it’s $11.75 per hour.

Related: It costs how much to raise a child?

  1. How old and experienced is your sitter? You can pay a teenager ― especially one as young as 13 or 14 who is just starting to babysit ― less than a professional adult with years of experience and a degree in early childhood education. You’re probably in the right ballpark if you’re paying a teen somewhere between $9-15 an hour and an experienced adult between $16-26 an hour.
  2. Are they looking after one child or several? The more children you have, the higher the hourly cost. Check out this infographic from UrbanSitter for an idea of the costs per region.
  3. Is the sitter a family member/close friend? You may be able to get away with paying a bit less for a close relative or friend than if you hire a professional sitter with stricter wage requirements.
  4. How hard will they be working? Do you need someone to just sit in the house and watch TV while your child is asleep, or will they have hours to fill playing with, feeding and putting your child to bed? It’s up to your discretion, but you might want to pay a bit more for someone who’s going to be working harder.

Related: How much does child care cost? 

  1. How late will you be out? This shouldn’t necessarily impact the cost of the sitter, but if you are planning a late night out, it’s a good idea to provide snacks or dinner for the sitter. If you can’t drive the sitter home, you should foot the bill for a cab.

Still not sure what to pay? Check out this calculator from that calculates an hourly rate based on your location, number of kids and years of your sitter’s experience.

Child care costs keep nearly 50 percent of parents up at night, while 65 percent also worry about day-to-day bills. If you’re stressed about all the cash you’re shelling out, get tips on how to spend less on kids’ clothing and how to save on food, diapers and other essentials kids need.

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