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How Much To Tip Nannies, Babysitters and Childcare Providers

By Emily Frost | December 17, 2015 7:32am
 DNAinfo has a guide on how and what to tip the child caregivers in your life around the holidays.
DNAinfo has a guide on how and what to tip the child caregivers in your life around the holidays.
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Thinkstock/elise_kurenbina

UPPER WEST SIDE — Giving holiday gratuities is always tricky territory, but especially so when it comes to the people who care for your children. 

We talked to parents and experts and delved into surveys from caregivers to find out what's standard when it comes to giving gifts and tips to nannies, babysitters and childcare providers.

If these dollar figures leave you filled with a surge of stress hormones, remember every situation is different; the holidays aren't the only time to show your caregiver you appreciate them, and money isn't the only way, either. 

Nanny Bonuses and Gifts

Cricket's Circle, a registry service founded by Manhattan mom Rachel Blumenthal, calls two-weeks pay "the norm" and a small gift, even if it's something made by your child, "the cherry on top." 

And if your nanny hasn't been with you a full year, prorate the bonus and let her know what to expect next year. If two weeks is too much, provide extra days off, Cricket's Circle suggests. 

But not everyone agrees. According to a 2015 survey by the parenting resource group Park Slope Parents, one week's pay is typical as a nanny bonus.

"Giving bonuses continues to be standard, with one week's pay given the most common amount," the group reported in its annual survey of more than 750 Park Slope families using a live-out nanny who are not part of a nanny share. 

A survey from the childcare service UrbanSitter found similar results in a survey of 1,500 families, sitters and nannies across the country: 51 percent responded that they tipped or received one week's pay as a bonus, while 14 percent responded they tipped or received two weeks' pay. 

Of New York City respondents, 62 percent said they give one week's pay as a bonus; only 2.7 percent said they give nothing at all. 

Sixty-nine percent of the same UrbanSitter respondents said they also give a gift to their nanny in addition to a bonus.

According to experts from the Emily Post Institute and the Etiquette School of New York, the gift that accompanies the bonus should be substantial and feel personal. Experts suggested a handbag, sweater or a case of wine as possible gifts. 

Tipping and Gifting Childcare Teachers

A common source of confusion is whether to tip or give gifts to childcare providers who are not nannies — the people at your daycare or preschool or who teach the local music or gym class your child takes. 

For preschools and daycares, check your school's policy before acting. Many schools have a policy about a teacher's ability to accept cash or gifts, which you might unintentionally violate. 

Many preschools and daycare centers create pools to divide gifts evenly so that no one is left out and there's not a sense of competition among teachers. 

At La Escuelita, a dual-language preschool on the Upper West Side, parents contribute to a gift pool and cash gifts are given out evenly at a "Teacher Appreciation Day" luncheon or dinner the school hosts every year. 

"We don't want head teachers being celebrated over assistant teachers who work just as hard at creating a wonderful and warm experience for the children," said Kelley Grant, the school's administrative director. 

For parents who just can't let the holiday season pass without recognition, the school encourages "parents to give teachers handmade gifts, especially those made by the children," said Grant. 

If you do give a gift or tip, give it directly and discreetly to the teacher, parents and staffers say. 

Gift cards are popular; if you don't know your giftee well, you can order a Visa or Amazon gift card so that their options are open. 

"Some programs do not accept gifts — however those that do, it's always appreciated. An AMEX gift card, personalized stationery, a manicure/pedicure, something in the $50-100 range is generous," said Blumenthal, of Cricket's Circle.

In UrbanSitter's survey, 43 percent of respondents said they favored cash as compared to 19 percent who wanted a gift card. 

New York City parents have suggested anywhere from $50 to $100 per teacher, given that the going rate for nannies in New York City is more than $600 a week. 

At La Escuelita, teachers ended up with nearly $900 each after parents pooled their resources. 

Babysitter Bonuses and Gifts

New York City parents are very generous when it comes to tipping babysitters during the holidays, according to UrbanSitter. 

New Yorkers tip the most, as compared to respondents in Los Angeles, Washington D.C., San Francisco and Chicago. Twenty-eight percent of New Yorkers give their sitters a holiday tip of more than $100, the survey found.

Fifty-three percent of New Yorkers give between $25 and $100.

Etiquette coaches say that if you don't want to tip cash, give a gift on par or close to what you'd pay the sitter for a night out. 

"An extra night's pay or a gift of around $100 value is appropriate," Blumenthal agrees.

► DNAinfo has found dozens of gift ideas from neighborhoods across the city, including gifts ideal for babysitters.

Note: If you plan to hire your usual sitter for New Year's Eve, know that sitters are typically expecting a higher rate and parents are meeting that expectation.

In Los Angeles, New York City and Washington D.C., more than 25 percent of parents are willing to pay twice the normal babysitting rate on New Year's Eve, according to UrbanSitter. 

UrbanSitter found the typical rate per hour in New York City is roughly $15 for one child, $17 for two and $18-$19 for three.