By:  Karen Sullen

While good babysitters are worth their weight in gold, how do you determine what's a fair amount to pay?  Is the going rate affected by where you live?  Should you pay a little extra for gas and transportation?  It depends.  These factors will have some bearing on the fee, but the final decision is yours, and it's negotiable.  According to USA Today, the average price for an experienced babysitter who can handle baby's mealtime, games, activities and general care for one child is approximately $10 per hour.  That's a nice round number to begin with, but you'll have to adjust it up or down based on these circumstances: 

Less experienced or younger sitters generally command less pay than someone older or more experienced.  However, the rate should increase each year as their experience grows.
Location and the cost of living are big factors when determining the pay rate.  For example, the average hourly wage for a sitter in Boynton Beach, Florida is $12.00, while the same sitter would get $10.00 in Denver, Colorado and only $7.00 in parts of Texas.  As you can see, the rates can vary greatly based on the cost of living.  Contact the Chamber of Commerce or search online for specific rates in your area.  

A sitter with certifications will usually get paid more for knowing things like CPR or lifeguarding or having other training.

Daytime vs. Nighttime
Unless you've already agreed on a flat rate regardless of the time of day, daytime sitters are typically more costly.  Babysitting during the day requires more work because the child is awake and active, as opposed to in the evening when the babysitter will basically put the child to bed and watch movies until you return.  You'd be justified in paying the night sitter a little less.  

Number of Children 
As a rule of thumb, expect to pay $2 to $5 more an hour for each additional sibling. 

If babysitting includes running errands like purchasing a baby gift for a child's birthday party or taking the children to appointments, a higher fee should be paid to compensate for the extra gas and time.  If the babysitter is cooking meals, he or she should be compensated $10 for preparing the meal.

The old adage "you get what you pay for" holds true with most things, and especially babysitting.  Remember, regardless of the hourly rate, the safety and proper care of your children is most important.