6 Tips for Finding the Perfect Babysitter
For new parents, finding a babysitter can be a worrisome rite of passage. But there are steps you can take to find the perfect fit. Whether your search is based on friend and neighbor recommendations or an online service, zero in on your expectations to find the right fit.
1. Determine your ideal candidate.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends babysitters be at least 13 years old, and younger teens are often enthusiastic about interacting with your child, but if you have a newborn, a child with special needs or more than one child, an older teen or adult may be preferable.
2. Get recommendations.
Soliciting personal recommendations is the easiest – and fastest – way to find the best sitters in your area. Ask friends, family, neighbors and coworkers who live nearby for names of babysitters they’ve used before. Who did they like, and why? Can they make an introduction? See if your child’s day care will let you hire a staff member for in-home sitting. Online services such as Care.com and Sittercity.com also will let you browse profiles of local sitters, filter candidates, read reviews and reach out to your top picks.
3. Trust your instincts.
Start with in-person interviews and ask open-ended questions such as, “What do you like about babysitting?” and “How would you handle a fussy child?” Ask for references, follow up on them and talk with other parents about their experiences. Initially, hire a sitter for a time when you are home and can observe interactions. If your child seems overly anxious or uncomfortable, move on to someone else.
4. Put safety first.
Ask if your potential sitter is Red Cross certified or has first aid or CPR training. Stock first aid kits, check flashlights and once you choose a sitter, make sure he or she knows where these things are. Tour your house with the sitter, demonstrating door locks and identifying all exits. If your child has health issues, clearly explain what your sitter needs to know. Prominently display your contact information and emergency numbers, including 911, poison control, helpful neighbors and your child’s physician and dentist.
5. Communicate clearly.
Don’t assume your sitter knows your rules and routines. Discuss meal plans (keep food prep simple) and snacks. Review diaper changing safety, bedtime procedures and whether the sitter is responsible for baths. Set expectations for screen time, and ask your sitter to limit personal phone use — and no posting pics on social media. Suggest fun or soothing activities and advise them concerning discipline. Is playing in the yard or going for a walk acceptable? Reassure your sitter that you welcome questions and can be reached by phone while you are out.
6. Focus on the big picture.
A great baby sitter keeps your child safe and happy when you aren’t home. However, no one will do things exactly like you would. Determine your non-negotiables, and don’t sweat the small stuff. Allowing your child to stay up a bit past bedtime or have an extra snack may be worth the chance to have a date night.
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