The 7 Best Child Care Services of 2020

Find the best company to keep your kids safe

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Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Sittercity

"The company doesn’t just run basic, background checks on its sitters: It also screens them through the Family Watchdog database."

Best for Options: Care.com

"The site has been matching people with babysitters, nannies, housekeepers, and other professionals since 2006."

Best for Last-Minute Care: UrbanSitter

"It’s available as an app for Apple or Android, so you can find sitters wherever you are."

Best for Specialized Care: Nanny Poppinz

"It offers sitters for in- and out-of-home care, 24/7 emergency services, nighttime newborn support, mothers' helpers, and more."

Best for Au Pairs: Au Pair in America

"Au Pair in America offers regional managers, local counselors, and 24/7 emergency help."

Best for Referrals: Bambino

"Although this service is a little more user-intensive than some of the others, Bambino still performs background checks on its sitters."

Best Budget: SeekingSitters

"This is probably the most pay-as-you-go option around, making it work within your budget."

No matter how much you love your kids, there will be times when you need someone else to take over for a while, whether it's in the form of a regular babysitter, a part-time nanny, or someone to come over once a month on a Saturday night so you and your partner can hit the movie theater together. While many parents are lucky enough to be able to tap a grandparent or another family member for babysitting duty, this isn't the case for everyone. 

If you find yourself in need of a babysitter, the internet is a great place to start And in truth, it can be a great way to find a someone to care for your child if you know where to look, what questions to ask, and how to vet not just the sitters themselves, but also the sites offering the services.

If this sounds intimidating, relax: We did the hard work for you. Here's a list of the top child care services that can provide you with a reliable babysitter.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Sittercity

Sittercity

Sittercity

With a large network of sitters posting profiles to the Sittercity site, there’s no shortage of opportunities to find a reliable caretaker here. The best part is that you don’t have to feel overwhelmed by the huge number of options: Tell Sittercity what you’re looking for, and they’ll send you responses from qualified people. 

From there, you can review sitter profiles (which include everything from availability and first-aid training to the foreign languages they speak), before moving on to interviewing. References from other parents who have hired that sitter are available for you to review, too.

But what really sets Sittercity apart from other child care services is its commitment to safety and security. The company doesn’t just run basic, background checks on its sitters: It also screens them through the Family Watchdog database and authenticates their identities through Experian.

Payments are made securely, names and contact info are kept private during the screening process, and there is a system in place to weed out scammers quickly. 

While no child care service can guarantee safety 100% of the time, Sittercity goes above and beyond to make sure as many precautions as possible are taken to protect its families and its sitters. 

You can pay monthly for about $35, quarterly for around $70, or annually for approximately $140, giving you access to the site's network of caregivers, as well as post unlimited jobs, reviews, and references. 

Best for Options: Care.com

Care.com

Care.com

If you need someone to watch your kids, walk your dog, or water your plants while you’re on vacation, Care.com could be the right match for you. One of the largest databases of care providers around, the site has been matching people with babysitters, nannies, housekeepers, and other professionals since 2006.

The site can be intimidating because of its sheer size, but you can search for sitters using a number of different filters, sorting by hourly rate, availability, experience, comfort level with pets, non-smokers, and more.

Care.com runs its sitters through a multi-tier background check that includes searching state and federal criminal records, sex offender data, and motor vehicle information. 

The amount that you’ll pay your babysitter varies by state, but Care.com provides a babysitting pay-rate calculator based on your zip code that can help you figure out comparable local rates.

It’s one of many helpful guides the site offers, so if you’ve never hired a babysitter through a service before, you might appreciate the resources available to walk you through the process. 

You can pay monthly for about $39, quarterly for around $78, or annually for approximately $156, to view full caregiver profiles, access reviews and references, and gain unlimited messaging between you and providers.

Best for Last-Minute Care: UrbanSitter

UrbanSitter

UrbanSitter

UrbanSitter’s major selling point is the quick turnaround times offered in many of its cities. The site says that most babysitting job postings submitted as last-minute requests get responses in three minutes or less, making UrbanSitter a go-to site for spontaneous date nights, after-school care, and emergency situations.

Elsewhere, the UrbanSitter site is relatively user-friendly. It’s available as an app for Apple or Android, so you can find sitters wherever you are. However you’re accessing UrbanSitter, you can handle all your postings, bookings, and payments right within your account. The site also hands out badges to sitters who have cleared their background check searches within the last 13 months.

A final draw for UrbanSitter is that it allows you to sort through sitters with local referrals in mind. You can search by caretakers who are popular with other parents in your area, and check out how many times other families have repeatedly booked the same nanny. That way, you know the sitter was a hit with their kids.

This site offers a monthly plan for about $20 or an annual one at around $125. You can also pay-as-you-go for approximately $35 per month. Whatever you choose, you get to access all of UrbanSitter's networking, booking, and payment tools.

Best for Specialized Care: Nanny Poppinz

Nanny Poppinz

Nanny Poppinz

Though Nanny Poppinz isn’t quite as widely available as some of the other sites, if it is in your area, you’re in luck. This is a true concierge service for finding specialized child care providers, and you don’t pay a single penny until you’ve actually selected a nanny or sitter.

If you’re in need of a particular, babysitting service, Nanny Poppinz has you covered: It offers sitters for in- and out-of-home care, 24/7 emergency services, nighttime newborn support, mothers' helpers, hotel resort babysitting, sick child care, and more. 

The company has been in business since 1992, working to make sure the professionals it hires are qualified and experienced. You tell Nanny Poppinz what kind of sitter you’re looking for, and the service handles all the administrative work for you. Its staff performs thorough background screening, reference-checking, and personal, face-to-face interviews in its search for your perfect professional. 

There are no application or membership fees to join the service, although the agency does make it difficult to find out how much you pay, once you’ve chosen a sitter.

The concierge-style service provides its nanny-searching services for free, until you select a professional for your family. Then, you'll pay a commission based on the type of services you need.

Best for Au Pairs: Au Pair in America

Au Pair in America

Au Pair in America

If you need full-time help caring for your children, you have two options: a live-in nanny or an au pair. Both have advantages and disadvantages, but hiring a live-in nanny is a slightly, easier process—the candidates likely already live in the U.S. and have credentials you’ll be familiar with.

The company offers multiple levels of au pair assistance and extensively screens, trains, and evaluates its applicants. The process is overwhelming, but hiring an au pair is an investment (financially, emotionally, and otherwise), so you want a qualified service that knows what it’s doing.

Au pairs, however, are typically young, single women from foreign countries, who travel away from home for the sole purpose of living with a host family. For this, you really do need to work with an experienced service like Au Pair in America, which matches families to au pairs and handles much of the paperwork, logistics, legal contracts, and financing. 

On that note, hiring an au pair can be pricey. But if you're looking for someone to take care of your child for more than one-off occasions, it will be a financial undertaking. At roughly $18,000 to $20,000 per year, you'll want to make sure your au pair arrangement is one that really fits your needs.

At Au Pair in America, you'll pay a match fee, a program fee, and a minimum, weekly stipend to your nanny. This will include transportation, orientation and training, partial medical insurance, and liability coverage for your au pair.

If you've found an au pair whose service you'd like to use, Au Pair in America offers regional managers, local counselors, and 24/7 emergency help.

Best for Referrals: Bambino

Bambino

Bambino

Still feeling squeamish about hiring a stranger, even when a service is conducting thorough background checks? You might want to give Bambino a try.

This app requires you to log in with your Facebook account, so you can start by connecting with your real-life friends and acquaintances. From there, you can search for sitters based on who people you know have hired in the past.

If you don’t have a lot of Facebook friends using babysitters or registering with the Bambino app, you can still add “friends” and preferred sitters through the service as it looks for sitters in your community.

If a fellow mom around the corner has hired a sitter through Bambino, for example, you could connect with her to see whether she recommends that caretaker and why. 

This app is free to download and use in full, but once you've booked and paid for a sitter, Bambino charges a small service fee between approximately $2 to $3, depending on the experience level of your sitter.

Although this service is a little more user-intensive than some of the others, Bambino still performs background checks on its sitters, offers in-app bookings and payment, and hands out “refer-a-friend” credits. If your preferred way of hiring a babysitter is word-of-mouth, then the Bambino app is for you.

Best Budget: SeekingSitters

SeekingSitters

SeekingSitters

Several of the other services here require monthly or yearly subscriptions to access their databases of sitters. But SeekingSitters operates a little differently, making it the most customizable for families on a budget.

When you set up a SeekingSitters account, you pay a one-time activation fee of around $60. This pays for unlimited screening and background checks, as well as access to the entire network of available sitters. From there, you can choose between a small, monthly fee for unlimited sitter-booking or a pay-per-request fee.

Let’s say you only need babysitting help occasionally during summer vacation. You could sign up with SeekingSitters in June by paying the activation fee, then choose to pay individual booking fees each time you need a sitter. When summer is over, you might not need access to sitters anymore.

For this service, you pay a one-time activation fee of around $60 to access sitter profiles, and then choose from a customized billing plan (either a small monthly fee giving you unlimited access to booking or individual pay-per-request fees). All background checks and screenings are free after the activation fee is paid.

With SeekingSitters, you’re not paying to maintain a monthly subscription that you’re hardly using. This is probably the most pay-as-you-go option around, making it work within your budget.

How We Chose The Best Child Care Services

For our top picks, our focus was on accessibility, cost, and safety. We started by selecting sites that provide services across the U.S. Some of the companies here connect you with sitters in every state, while others are available on a more limited basis—but none of them are state-specific or limited to a single region of the country.

Then, we considered the security steps each service takes to screen its sitters. Most offer multi-step, background checking and comprehensive interview processes, as well as educational resources for additional ways customers can screen and assess the competency of the sitters available. 

Finally, we compared relative costs of the different services. Some charge monthly or yearly subscriptions while others require one larger upfront sum; all of the services, though, make it clear what you’re paying for and most offer financing options for every budget. 

What Are The Different Kinds of Child Care?

You can split child care into two main categories: in-home child care (family members, regular babysitters, nannies, and au pairs) and out-of-home childcare, usually provided at licensed, daycare centers, schools, or nurseries.

The right kind of child care for your family depends on several different factors, including how many hours of care you need per week, how much you can afford to spend, and the age(s) of your child(ren). 

How To Safely Choose A Child Care Provider For Your Family

Ideally, you would hire someone you already know and trust to babysit for your family, but that’s not always possible. There are many great babysitters out there, so hiring a stranger doesn’t have to be a recipe for disaster—especially if you take a few important steps:

  • Ask friends, co-workers, and local moms' groups for referrals of credible, responsible sitters. 
  • Set up an introductory meeting before the sitter comes to officially babysit, so you can all get to know each other and discuss important details like payment, house rules, food allergies, and general expectations. 
  • Consider staying home the first time your sitter comes to care for your child(ren). Yes, this does kind of defeat the purpose of having a babysitter, but it also lets you supervise and observe how the sitter handles themselves around kids (and may alert you to any red flags).
  • Inquire and, when necessary, verify the sitter’s credentials. Ask if they have been trained in CPR. Perform a background check. Call or email their references. 

Once you’re comfortable with the sitter you’ve chosen, it’s important to open a clear line of communication with them and foster a positive relationship where issues can be honestly discussed.

How Much Can You Expect To Pay?

When you're getting ready to hire a babysitter, one of the biggest sources of stress is sorting out payment. Thankfully, most of the child care services included here have figured this out for you, either by setting rates in advance, or including cost in their individual profiles, so you can sort through qualified sitters according to your budget.

If you’re working with a child care service that doesn’t provide any information or guidance on how to pay your sitter appropriately, you can start by checking the average cost of a babysitter in your state. (FYI, the national average is about $10 per hour, but it varies greatly by city.) You may want to pay your babysitter more than the average rate if they’re highly-qualified or taking on extra responsibilities, like laundry, dishes, or transportation to and from activities. 

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Article Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Here's the Plan. "How Much an Au Pair Costs." Accessed April 8, 2020.

  3. ChildCare.gov. "Care in Your Own Home." Accessed April 8, 2020.

  4. ChildCare.gov. "Background Checks: What You Need To Know." Accessed April 8, 2020.

  5. Market Watch. "This is exactly how much to pay babysitters in each city." Accessed April 9, 2020.

  6. PayScale. "Average Babysitter Hourly Pay." Accessed April 9, 2020.