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How To Choose A Great Babysitter

Published August 16, 2011        by Sarah

Image by surlygirl on FlickrWhen your baby is an infant, the thought of leaving her with anyone is the furthest thing from your mind.  As she grows, and you need to go back to work or just go out and interact with adults, having a trusted, reliable babysitter becomes a necessity.  You cannot leave your children with just anyone, and you cannot leave your children with someone whom you do not trust.  How do you find a sitter who is able to do the job, personable, trustworthy, honest, and who will build a good relationship with your child?

If you have relatives in the area, take advantage.  Most of the time, aunts and uncles love to get their hands on a baby and will gladly watch your little one for a few hours or for the day. It's a gift for new grandma or grandpa to be able to spend time with their precious grandchildren.  If they do it free of charge, so much the better.  If you have a sibling or friend you can rely on, that is another avenue to explore.  You may want to approach the topic of paying them and see what their feelings on the matter are.  You do not want to take advantage of them and alienate a good babysitter.

If you do not have family in the area, word-of -mouth is the best way to find a great babysitter.  Ask your friends, your neighbors, and people in your school or church community with children if they can recommend someone.  You may find that people don’t want to give you their sitter’s name for fear you’ll steal her away when they need her, but most of the time, parents are glad to recommend qualified people to you.

If you’ve just moved to a new area, you may find that your child’s teacher is able to refer you to someone that she knows and trusts.  If you know any high school teachers, ask them if they could recommend several students for the job.  Use your community resources; it is the much more reliable than depending on an ad or interviewing a total stranger.  Other options include calling the Red Cross and getting the names of babysitters who have completed their safety course in your area, advertising at a local college for students who are working in the education or other child-related field, or inquiring about possibilities from your local 4H or Girl Scout troops.   None of this guarantees a perfect baby sitter, so always ask questions and always check references.

Image by Lucia.. on FlickrWhether you have found someone through friends’ recommendations or by an ad you answered or posted, take the time to interview them thoroughly.  Some people look great on paper but do not handle your children very well.  Ask question after question; you can find lists online of things to ask, and do ask all of them and more.  Gauge the answers in terms of honesty, as well as ability.  Can this person take care of your child, and is she going to treat him well?

When you think you have someone in mind, see how she interacts with your child.  Keep in mind that it may take a while for your child to warm up to her, but watch how she treats him, speaks to him, and see whether she engages him in any way.  Does she offer to play games with him?  Does she ask him questions about school or his hobbies?  Look for someone who is willing to get to know your child.

If you’re still a bit apprehensive, hire her for an evening you are home.  If you’re having a party, for instance, she can keep your child occupied and put him to bed.  This way, she has direct contact with your child and can begin to build a relationship.  At the same time, you’re there in case anything goes wrong or she cannot handle your child.

Leaving your child with a new babysitter is one of the most difficult things a parent has to do.  When you find someone, though, hold on to her! Send her a little thank you gift every now and then to show her she's appreciated. You’ll feel much more comfortable leaving the house, and as importantly, your child will be just as comfortable.

Related Articles:

First Babysitters

Choosing the Right Babysitter