Article Summary:

An extensive list of qualities to consider in a babysitter and where to look to find a new babysitter for your baby or children.

What to Look for in a Babysitter

Finding a babysitter for the occasional night out or day away can be challenging and it sometimes seems like it is not worth the hassle, especially for first-time parents. However, a relaxing night out with your significant other, a golf game with your college buddies or a day of shopping with friends will give you a much-needed break. In the long run, you will be a better parent because you did something meaningful for yourself.

So, what do you need to look for in a babysitter? How do you find one that you like and can trust? Here are some tips that may make the process easier.

Determine your current needs and goals.
If you have a newborn, then you will want to make certain that you are hiring a mature, experienced person. You can go with a younger teen if your own children are a little older. But make sure that you are not overwhelming the sitter. If you have more than three kids, you might need to hire team sitters to make sure that you have enough coverage.

Plan ahead.
If you know that you must attend an important business dinner with your spouse, then give yourself plenty of time to book the right person. And, it’s always a good idea to place a reminder phone call to the sitter when your time away is very important.

Ask friends, family, coworkers.
The best way to find a great sitter is to ask others with kids. However, be prepared that some people will be unwilling to share the name of their sitter! Mommy and Daddy classes are a great way to network with others to find a sitter. Sometimes the teacher will even moonlight when not teaching.

Search the neighborhood.
If you are hiring a younger sitter, one of the biggest hassles is driving to pick up the sitter and then taking him or her home. Finding a sitter in your own neighborhood will solve this issue, and it makes for a very convenient situation should you have a last-minute need for someone to watch your kids.

Ask the sitter for recommendations.
If you have a sitter you like, but he or she is booked, then don’t be shy about asking for a recommendation. This is a great way to expand your sitter network.

Babysitting services.
If you are really desperate and you live in a large city, there might be a babysitter service you could use. Use services that are bonded and ask about fees upfront. Inquire about meeting the sitter ahead of time, even though you may have to pay a fee.

The Internet.
Some people use the internet to find a local sitter, but it is always preferable to use a sitter that is recommended. If you do choose the internet, make sure that you use caution and do your homework. The bottom line is that you do not know anything about the person that you are bringing into your home. Will you feel totally comfortable with this person?

Other ideas.
Still looking for a great sitter? Try your church, synagogue or place of worship as they may have a youth group with kids of babysitting age. You could also contact a local college that offers a credentialed teaching program to see if they have students who will baby sit.

So now you have a few sitters in mind. What happens next?

Don’t be afraid to ask.
This person will be taking care of your children – nothing is more important – so it is okay to ask questions and check references. Does the sitter have children of his or her own (or younger siblings)? Has he or she sat for other children? Has the sitter passed a basic babysitting class?

Age matters.
Is your babysitter mature enough to handle your child or children? If you hesitate answering this, then the answer is no. It is better to hire an older sitter (pay a little more) and feel secure that you are doing the best for your kids.

Meet ahead of time.
Some parents want to meet a sitter prior to leaving the person alone with their kids. This is perfectly acceptable, so schedule a “meet and greet” time when the sitter could come to your home. However, you will need to reimburse for the meeting time.

Which leads us to money.
What to pay a sitter can vary greatly from area to area and small town to large city. Ask what other parents are paying and then be sure to establish an hourly fee prior to booking the sitter. If it is a full day, ask for a “day rate.” If you are paying hourly, then be sure to round up to the closest half hour when figuring what you owe. Have some smaller bills on hand so you can pay the sitter at the time of service.

Nancy Wurtzel is the founder and owner of All About Baby, an online store located at www.allbaby.com. All About Baby offers more than 300 personalized and memorable baby gifts for young children. The site also features interesting and helpful child-related content. Ms. Wurtzel has over 25 years of marketing and communications experience. She consults with small businesses seeking to enter the marketplace or grow their existing e-commerce business.

Read all advice by Nancy Wurtzel; Find more Child Care experts

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