How To Hire A Babysitter

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Whether you’re a new parent or a mom and dad with years of child-rearing experience, it can be nerve wracking to leave your baby at home with someone else. You want to make sure you’re not just leaving your child with anyone who says they’re willing to babysit. It’s got to be someone you trust — someone who is great with kids, who will treat your little one well, and who will make a wise and fast decision if something should go awry.
Fortunately, hiring a babysitter is not all that complicated. In fact, it’s a lot like hiring an employee for any other position. Your family is the company, and you’ve got a job opening! How can you hire a great babysitter? Here are five steps to follow.
1. Find Qualified Candidates
The first step is to find people who are interested in babysitting your children, and this can be done in a few ways. You should definitely ask friends who have kids if they can recommend a great sitter — someone they already like and trust. Be aware, however, that if your friends already have a great sitter, they may not be willing to share!
You can also post a help wanted ad. A posting on Craigslist will get seen by many people, but a better choice may be the online student job board of a local college or university. If you go the latter route, it’s a good idea to specify that you’d prefer a sitter who is majoring in early childhood education. That way, you’re more likely to get someone who is not only great with kids, but who can teach them useful fundamentals as well.
Finally, sites like can match you with available sitters in your area. You may need to pay a small membership fee to get the most out of the site, but if you find someone great, it will be well worth it.
2. Interview
Once you find some possible sitters, it’s time to interview them. You will want to ask about their babysitting experience and what a typical babysitting day has been like for them. Also inquire about how they’ve handled tough situations in the past, and play what-if: what if your child got sick suddenly, what if your child won’t listen, won’t eat, won’t go to sleep, and so on.
Ask about CPR training and first aid. It’s not unreasonable to require recent Red Cross certification for those. Make sure they’re available when you need them to be. Finally, check that they’re comfortable with any specific requirements that you might have, such as cloth diapers.
3. Check References
Before you agree to hire a babysitter, ask for babysitting references and check them; talk to at least two other families who have trusted him or her with their children. When you’re on the phone, ask if this person is trustworthy and reliable, if they would hire him or her again, and if they have any reservations about you hiring him or her. It’s also a good idea to look up this person’s social media presence, as that can give you a good idea about whether or not they’re a responsible individual. Finally, you may want to do a background check, though it may not be necessary if you have solid references.
4. Train
Once you’ve found the right person, it’s a good idea to do a dry run before leaving them at home alone with your child. Go over the house rules, including what foods are OK, where things like first aid and meds are, any allergy information, and what’s off limits. Once you walk your new sitter through your routine, let him or her interact with your child for a little while, either when you’re in the house (but doing other things) or when you run out for a short errand.
5. After a Few Weeks, Evaluate
How’s it going? Are your kids happy, and is your new sitter happy? If so, great: it looks like you’ve got a perfect fit. However, if there’s any unhappiness or tension, it’s wise to talk about it sooner rather than later to resolve the issue. However, trust your instincts and go with your gut. If things aren’t working out, you’ll want to let your sitter know. Don’t feel badly — these things happen, and it’s worth starting over to find a better sitter for your kids.
Hiring a babysitter is definitely a process, but it’s worth doing to find a great person to watch your kids when you can’t be home. Follow these steps, and with any luck, you and your kids will develop a relationship with a caring, helpful sitter who can work with your family for several years.