Entrusting someone else to care for your child can be unsettling. “I am so nervous about the whole idea,” confides Circle of Moms member Karrington B., who is hiring a babysitter outside of her family for the first time. “I have a long list of questions, but I was wondering what other mommies out there might ask, and if I have forgotten anything.” Relax, say other members: Whether you need time off for date night, help in a pinch, or a regular caregiver, there are many wonderful and reliable sitters out there. Here are five tips for finding one who will be a great fit for your family.
1. Determine Your Needs
Finding the right sitter goes beyond knowing you need help and agreeing on the payment. First consider the days and hours you need coverage. For instance, local college students or an older teenager might be fine for a date night, but you will probably want someone with more childcare experience for day time care while you’re at work, says Kate T.
Second, think about which activities you want the babysitter to handle. For example, you might expect your sitter to assist with the children’s meals, take them out to play, and help them pick up after themselves. If your activity roster includes the pool or beach, you’ll want to make sure you hire a sitter who knows how to swim. Additionally, if you expect the sitter to drive your children to activities, you should ask to see a valid driver’s license and check into the person’s driving record, says Judy R.
Before you begin interviewing potential babysitters, develop a list of expectations to discuss, so there are no surprises, says Sue A. For example, if you expect the nanny to not be on the computer, cell phone, or socializing with other friends while caring for your child, make sure to go over that. And, Timna S. advises, “If you want your nanny to do anything else that is not child-related, like grocery shopping or the dry cleaning, you should talk about that before you hire them.”
Finally, if you're looking for a full-time nanny, you should also think through and cover how you’ll handle vacation time and sick days.
2. Rely on Referrals
Once you've figured out your requirements, start looking around for candidates. Ask friends and neighbors if they babysit, and if not, find out who they recommend, suggests Rachel B. “Do you have any close friends nearby that could watch your child? Are you involved in church?”
“Our best sitters are the teachers we liked from the kids’ daycare,” shares Robyn E. Even if your baby isn’t at daycare, “see if any of your friends who use daycare can recommend a sitter,” she adds.
“They will have a list of competent and fully qualified nannies,” agrees Josslyn C., explaining that although you might have to pay a fee for the service, what you get in exchange is worthwhile, as the service will help narrow your babysitter search by including detailed profiles, background checks, references, and even other parents' reviews of potential sitters.
3. Ask Key Questions
Use your interviews with potential sitters to glean more insight into their childcare styles. Ask questions about the basics — previous babysitting experience, typical activities they would do with your child, discipline philosophy, how they would handle an emergency and references, says Jessica G.
Then cover questions unique to your situation. For example, you will need to determine whether the sitter will come to your house or you will need to take your child to hers. If you have more than one child, ask if the sitter has experience with siblings. And find out whether he or she is comfortable with pets (if you have one), adds Rebekah S.
Carla A. recommends paying special attention to a potential sitter's body language during an interview. "Are they fidgeting or looking away? Do they look uncomfortable? If you have nothing to hide, you should be able to look someone in the eye,” she points out.
4. Do a Background Check
Once you’ve picked your top candidate, call references and also make sure the person is CPR-certified, notes Sarah D., explaining, “you never know when you are going to need it.”
You may also want to do a criminal background check. To find out how to do one in our state, visit your state's department of justice website or google the words "criminal history background check" for your location.
5. Do a Trial Run
If your babysitting candidate comes highly-recommended, the next and last step is a trial-run to see how well your child and the sitter interact, says Alexandra B. Another member, Laura H., chimes in with an additional tip: with a new sitter you should always keep an eye out for signs of inexperience or neglect, such as diaper rash or a child who seems extremely hungry or tired when you return home.
And above all else, says Alexandra B., “Trust your instincts and the instincts of your child."
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.