What is the Difference Between a Childminder and a Babysitter?

Knowing the difference between a childminder, a babysitter, and other forms of childcare, can be a little like a parent-to-be knowing the difference between a vest, a romper, a bodysuit and a sleepsuit – they all do the same job, don’t they? Well, not exactly, and there are some important distinctions to understand, to ensure you get the right childcare for the right occasion, both legally, and in terms of what you and your child need. So, what is the difference between a childminder and a babysitter?

Knowing the Law about Childcare

Over recent years there have been a few headlines that have implied friends doing each other childcare favours need to register as childminders. Whilst this is indeed true in some situations, most notably if that friend is paid, it has thrown up some questions regarding the law for babysitters. You pay the babysitter, yes? So are they therefore a childminder, and do they need to register as such?

The fundamental difference between a childminder and a babysitter is not only to do with payment however. At their core their difference is to do with the type of care provided.

A childminder is a regular form of childcare, in the vast majority of cases, during the day. As such they contribute to the overall development of the child in their care. The Government ensures that such childcare providers therefore meet the developmental, as well as care needs of the child. They must follow the EYFS curriculum and be registered with OFSTED. 

Babysitters, on the other hand, are ad hoc childcare. They aren’t typically utilised on a regular basis, and they are very much just responsible for the physical and emotional well-being of the child in their care, rather than their overall development. This doesn’t mean your babysitter won’t engage, or play, or read with your child if this is part of their usual routine at that time of day; but they aren’t responsible for teaching your child to count for example. 

This legal distinction between childminder and babysitter also means that you can use Government financial assistance to help you fund a childminder. For up to date information on this, see Gov.uk for advice.

The Practical Difference between Childminders and Babysitters

Once the law regarding the differences between childminders and babysitters has been understood, parents can still be left looking at somewhat blurry distinctions. For example, can you expect the babysitter to give your child tea? Will they sit and play, or help with homework?

In Sitters’ experience (& with more years childcare experience between us than one child’s lifetime nappy supply) the two types of childcare do overlap. Simply because, the very best babysitters tend to be individuals who work formally within childcare either as childminders, or nannies, teachers, or nursery nurses. Therefore, in reality, they do babysitting because they love children and have chosen to make it their career. The by-product is that you as a parent can choose a babysitter who has many of the legal standings of childminder when they aren’t actually legally necessary.

Childcare You Can Trust

Fundamentally, whether you’re seeking a regular childminder to look after your child whilst you are at work, or whether you’re looking for a babysitter who can give you a night off, or enable you to work that weekend overtime, it all comes down to trust. You need to have trust that your child is going to be well cared-for in a happy and secure environment. 

At Sitters we don’t believe you should have to take a gamble on your child’s wellbeing, and therefore we choose to implement our own checking system, to ensure the babysitter you choose is trustworthy and the right individual to care for your child. That’s why we only engage childcare professionals and take references on each and every babysitter we have ‘on our books’.

Babysitters and childminders are as different as a babygrow and a baby vest, cut from the same cloth with different purposes, but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t feel confident in using both.

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