What is a nanny?

by Martha Scully

What is the difference between a babysitter and a nanny?

This is a very common question that we get asked at, both from caregivers and from parents. Below, find our perspective.


  • A nanny is often someone who cares for your children in your home full time or part time
  • They can either live in or live-out of your home
  • Nannies can be responsible for some cleaning and laundry with regards to the children and family
  • Nannies will often take the children to play dates, libraries, and other activities
  • A nanny may be given a salary rather than hourly pay
  • A nanny is often employed by only one family


  • A babysitter cares for children on an occasional basis
  • Babysitters do minimal housekeeping and meal prep; they will usually help the kids tidy up, or tidy up for them
  • Babysitters look after your children at your house, taking them out for child-related outings (park, pool, etc)
  • The age of babysitters will range from teenagers to seniors
  • Babysitters are paid an hourly or daily rate
  • A babysitter might work for multiple families at one time

The Canadian Red Cross and St. John’s ambulance offer courses that provide students with babysitting training, including basic First Aid and CPR. In North America, there isn't a recognized certificate for an individual to study to be a nanny, unlike in Europe. Often, a nanny has experience with children or working with elderly.

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About the Author
Martha Scully
Martha is the founder of Martha has been featured as a Child Care Expert in hundreds of publications across Canada including The Globe and Mail, CBC, Today's Parent and The National Post, She lives in British Columbia with her husband and two daughters.