Finding a last-minute sitter is no simple task—or is it? We asked working moms across the country to put these on-demand babysitting services to the test, to see if hiring a responsible caregiver could really be easy.
Serves: All 50 states, as well as 20 countries, including the U.K., Canada and parts of Western Europe (for a night out on a family vacation)
Cost: You can post jobs for free and exchange messages with the providers who respond—but you can’t exchange contact information, obtain references, run background checks or book sitters without purchasing a premium membership ($13 to $35 per month), on top of the hourly rate. The national average rate for a Care.com babysitter was $13.97 per hour in 2016.
About: The site makes it easy to post a job for a specific time frame (say, tonight) and narrow down your options by education levels, pay rates and abilities. You can even include a request for homework help, light housekeeping and pet care. With 24 million members, Care.com is the world’s largest online provider of caregivers, so your chance of snagging a sitter is pretty good.
Post jobs, browse sitters, manage bookings and pay sitters by credit card with Care.com’s free iPhone or Android app.
“Setting up a free profile was quick and easy. I posted a job request on Monday for the following Friday and had 12 applications within 24 hours! I chose a sitter based on her years of experience and educational background; she was on time and extremely professional, and naturally engaged our toddler. I posted another job asking for a sitter for the following evening, and was again impressed to see seven applications by noon.” —Sally McCance, Castle Rock, CO, education program manager
Chime by SitterCity
Serves: Neighborhoods throughout Boston, Chicago, New York City and Washington, DC
Cost: The subscription is free. Families pay sitters a pre-set rate based on their location, ranging from $14 to $17 per hour, plus $1 per hour for each additional child.
About: Parents can book their best matches instantly, either online or through the iOS app. (Think Uber for childcare.) Sitters are pre-screened with background and reference checks, social-media screens and in-person interviews, and can be booked as little as an hour in advance. Each provider’s profile features an intro video, experience, personal references, reviews and certifications, like first aid and CPR.
At the end of the night, your credit card is charged, and a tip is included.
“Signing up was simple, but there was only one sitter available in my area when I searched four days in advance. I felt comfortable booking based on her positive reviews and the video in her profile. She called to confirm and learn about my daughter and expectations, and provided more insight into her background.
She arrived on time and sent updates.” —Zakiya Daley, Arverne, NY, account manager
Serves: More than 60 cities across the U.S.
Cost: Parents can choose between a one-month access pass for $34.95, a monthly subscription for $19.95 or an annual membership for $99.95. The average UrbanSitter hourly rate for one child is $15.20, $17.34 for two kids and $19.57 for three kids.
About: To find a sitter in a bind, you can search based on availability or post a job—where you can list expectations, perks (like a free meal or a cab home) and screening questions. You can also browse Sitter Lists, which displays the most popular, highly reviewed caregivers as rated by parents in local groups with which you may be affiliated, like nearby schools. Babysitters’ profiles include an array of helpful information, like videos, their average response times and the number of repeat family clients.
The platform also allows parents to purchase an upgraded background check or driving-record check. Sitters can be booked and paid via credit card through the website or app.
“Since I didn’t see any groups I’m involved in listed, I searched for a sitter by availability and location. While there were only about six options when I filtered for distance and coverage time, I reached out to one whose profile video I liked. She replied within a few minutes, and I received a booking confirmation with her contact information.
Once I called her, I learned she was first aid–certified with 10 years of nannying experience. She arrived on time and sat right down to play with our son.” —Lindsey Lane, Milton, MA, marketing manager
Serves: The San Francisco Bay Area, Orange County, Greater Los Angeles and Ventura County, all in California, with plans to expand in 2017
Cost: No monthly subscription fees. Hourly rates vary by location, number of children, and notice given for the booking, but they start at $25 per hour, with tip included.
About: Helpr hooks you up with a babysitter in as little as three hours when you submit a request before 8:00 p.m. All of the service’s on-call sitters are screened with in-person interviews, background checks, ID verification, CPR-certification checks, extensive social-media review and phone-based reference checks. To book, fill out a short form online or on the iPhone app and you’re matched with a caregiver.
You can review her comprehensive profile, which includes video, and if you aren’t happy with your match, you can rebook. Pay by credit card through the app, and tip is included.
“Helpr is extremely user-friendly and easy to set up. I submitted a request eight hours before I needed a sitter, and was assigned one within 15 minutes. I was able to learn about her background and interests, and felt good about the match.
Unfortunately, she was late due to a previous babysitting commitment, and she wasn’t able to reach me because of confusion regarding my contact information. Once we connected and established when she thought she’d arrive, a Helpr representative reached out to see if I needed anything in the interim. The sitter came right after I’d put my son down, and she was sweet and warm. I felt very comfortable leaving him in her care. The $30 per hour cost was surprising, since $15 to $20 is standard for my area.” —Mary Bloszies, Oakland, CA, senior implementation manager