Should I sign up as a sitter, nanny, or otherwise?

Are you looking to be a babysitter, a nanny, or a mother's helper? How is an au pair different than a nanny? If you've always been a little confused about these terms, use this handy list to help sort through the details.


Babysitters are child care providers that work either in a family's home or occasionally out of their own home. They usually earn an hourly rate and often have jobs with several families. Babysitters most often are part-time caregivers, but may work full-time as well. They can range in age from 11-90, though only sitters aged 18 and up are allowed on

Mother's Helper

Mothers' helpers are babysitters in training. They are just like babysitters except that the parent is in the house while the helper is watching the kids. This is an excellent option if a family is just getting used to using child care, or if a family wants some uninterrupted time to get extra work done, or wants to give a babysitter a trial period.


A nanny typically lives inside a family's home or travels to it daily, works for one family at a time, and receives a weekly salary. Nannies generally consider themselves to be full-time care providers, but many families employ part-time nannies as well.


A male nanny. Some "mannies" consider the term derogatory, so be sensitive to this sentiment. 


Doulas are specially trained labor assistants that help mothers prepare for a birth and can help during the actual birthing process. Doulas can also be postpartum doulas, who come in after a mother returns from the hospital to handle a baby's night feedings, diaper changes, and more.