Selecting a Babysitter for Your Child
Leaving your child at home with a babysitter, particularly for the first time, can be difficult for both you and your child, but sometimes you simply need to go out whether it be to run errands, for a social occasion, or just to have some alone time to take care of yourself. Pick a babysitter that you have confidence in! Start looking before you need a babysitter if you can so that you have time to find out all the information you need to make the right choice--you do not want to be rushed in this important decision!
Tips for Finding and Hiring A Babysitter
- Start your search with the people you know. Talk to other parents and friends that you know about their babysitters. Ask to speak with any available babysitters that your friends find reliable and are confident in their ability to care for children. Your personal networks are the best sources for reliable information on how a babysitter interacts with children.
- Use a reputable sitter finding service. At a minimum, a professional baby sitting service will require reference and background checks on all potential babysitters. Ideally you will have access to written references, specifically on the babysitters you will interview for your child.
- Check out bulletin boards at neighborhood middle and high schools, colleges, community centers or libraries. You may be able to post a notice in these locations or even find existing notices for people looking to babysit. Your place of worship is another place you may be able to find a babysitter.
- Look locally. Advertise in a local newspaper or community newsletter. Check in your community or on-line for babysitting agencies
- Do reference checks. Screen a potential babysitter and ask for several references. Check each reference carefully.
- Interview the babysitter. Invite a potential babysitter to your home to interview him or her about their skills and experience. Create time for the candidate to interact with your child while you are in the room. Ask lots of questions!
- Lay out the rules. Tell your babysitter your expectations for conduct. Explain the family rules and the ways to enforce them. Leave emergency phone numbers handy so your babysitter can reach you if there are any problems.
- Stay in contact. Once you leave your child with a babysitter, plan to come home a little earlier than expected, just to see how things are going in your house. It is also a good idea to call while you are out and check-in.
- Any caregiver can become overwhelmed. Tell the babysitter that he or she can call you if they are feeling overwhelmed or need help. Provide the phone number of a neighbor or friend in case you cannot be reached.
- Suggest activities. Plan out one or two of your child's favorite activities with the babysitter. Leave easy to prepare meals for them to eat together.
- Provide specific guidelines for bedtime if you are going out in the evening, or for other activities they may do while you are gone.
- If possible, talk to your child. Be sure to ask if your child liked the babysitter and regardless of the answer, ask why your child feels that way.
This information was compiled by Sunindia Bhalla, and reviewed by the Program Staff of The Children’s Trust.