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.

Working Mother - - Contents - By Jessica Laird

Real moms find out if on-de­mand babysit­ting ser­vices are worth the time.

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 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, 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.

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 pre­screened 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.



Serves: More than 60 cities across the U.S.

Cost: Par­ents can choose be­tween a onemonth 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.


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.

“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

“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

“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

“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

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