What’s the Going Rate?

What Parents Pay for Sitters, Birthday Parties and the Tooth Fairy

By Susan Flynn

The new babysitter shows up at the house for the first time, and eventually the question turns to money. “How much would you like to be paid?” can be a tough question for a tween or teen to field from an adult. Eyes look downward. There is shuffling of feet. Straight answers are hard to come by.

“Whatever you think” is not helpful. You don’t want to be the cheapskate in the neighborhood. You also don’t want the cost of a night out and a movie to rival a monthly car payment.

Here’s where Parenthood.com comes to the rescue. We’ve asked several moms what some of you may be too polite to ask: How much do they spend on things like babysitting, coaches’ gifts, birthday parties and the Tooth Fairy. Some answers may surprise you. But, as with most questions about parenting, there is no one-size-fits-all answer.

The Tooth Fairy

tooth fairyAccording to a Visa survey of parents, the average American child receives $3 per lost tooth from the Tooth Fairy. In a nod to inflation or overindulgence, 11 percent of the respondents reported paying $6 or more per tooth. It seems that the loss of the first tooth usually nets larger payments. The survey also found that the Tooth Fairy is more generous in the East ($3.40 a tooth) and South ($3.30), compared with the Midwest ($2.90) and West ($2.70). Locally, the consensus seems to be that it’s OK to offer a bonus if there’s a lot of blood, an injury, or a trip to the dentist required.

“At our house, the Tooth Fairy gave our daughter $2 for the first tooth and $1 for every tooth after that. Then she had to have one pulled so she received $5. It was the only way I could relax her at the dentist, using the promise of, ‘I think the Tooth Fairy gives you more money when you have to get your tooth pulled.’” – Deb Kumar

“Our Tooth Fairy gives Sacajawea gold coins. One coin per tooth.” – Kim Comatas

“The Tooth Fairy pays $5 for the first tooth, $2 for the other teeth. But if the tooth fairy is ‘busy’ and misses a night, she feels badly and leaves an extra $1. Needless to say, my kids love it when the tooth fairy comes a day late!” – Judy Speicher

“The Tooth Fairy gives $5 for the very first tooth, then one gold coin per tooth. If it’s pulled by a dentist, $3 to $5 depending on how [the child] reacted or suffered.” – Lisa Damigella

Your Turn: What does the tooth fairy leave at your house?

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