Are you ready to spend an evening away from the kids but feel nervous about finding the right person to watch them? Here’s how to choose a good babysitter and where to look to find the perfect fit!
I’ll be honest here, with my first baby my husband and I didn’t have a date night until my son was 10 months old. I just couldn’t imagine anyone I could trust enough to care for him!
Often you can call on grandparents, aunts and uncles, or friends to babysit your kids, but what if you don’t have those options?
Now you have the daunting task of finding the perfect babysitter who will take of your child with love and affection. Where do you start? How do you know you will pick someone you feel is trustworthy and capable of the task?
Here are 6 tips on how to choose a good babysitter, plus where to find that perfect fit so you can enjoy a peaceful evening out, without worrying about who is taking care of your child at home!
6 Tips for Choosing a Good Babysitter
Decide on Your Criteria
First, you need to decide on what you are looking for in a potential babysitter. Babysitters can be anywhere in age from a teenager to a grandmother so you have to think about your personal preferences and what things are non-negotiable for you.
A basic list of criteria when choosing a babysitter might include:
- 16 years or older
- CPR certified
- Prior experience with references
- Christian (or other religion of choice)
Of course, this will depend on each individual family.
Also be sure to take into account the particular details for your outing. For example, will this be a one or two-hour outing or do you need someone for an entire day? Your circumstances can play a heavy role in deciding who you will be comfortable with. A teenager might be okay for a couple of hours, but you might be more comfortable with an adult for an all day affair.
Don’t forget to think about other potential situations. Will the babysitter be required to cook and serve meals or just reheat meals? Is there a need for a driver’s license?
Consider Your Children
Next, think about your children and their ages and maturity.
Will the babysitter be required to change diapers, feed bottles, or help with potty training?
If your child very young, maybe an adult who has more experience in dealing with younger children would be best suited for you as a baby sitter.
Or, is your child older and pretty self-sufficient, but just needs someone there to make sure he is safe and stays out of potentially harmful situations? A teenager could fit the bill.
Also take into account how many children you have. Some babysitters do better with one on one and might get overwhelmed if you have multiple children.
Does your child have any behavioral issues? Do they have special needs? These are all things to consider before choosing a potential babysitter.
As you make these considerations you may need to add things to your list of criteria, such as:
- Experienced caring for infants
- Comfortable with multiple children
- Trained in working with Autistic children
- Must be able to help with homework
And things like that. You want your list of criteria as complete as possible so that when you move to the next step of actually finding and talking to potential clients you can weed out the NOs very easily and quickly.
Hold an Interview and Ask Questions
It’s always best to meet with potential babysitters before actually hiring them. This gives you a chance to ask them questions and get a feel for who they are personally.
Here are some questions that you might ask your potential babysitter at an interview:
- Do you have prior babysitting experience? If so, do you have references?
- Please tell me about your interests and hobbies.
- Do you have CPR training?
- What would you do if my child had an accident/illness while in your care?
- What was your worst babysitting experience, and how did you handle it?
- What do you charge?
- What is your availability?
You can also ask questions on their personal philosophies in regards to children. Make sure they match your stand on things like saying no, handling tantrums, crying, screen time, etc.
During the interview, it is a good idea to let the prospective babysitter get acquainted with your child before you hire her (with you in attendance). This way, you can see how your child interacts with this person. It’s very important that the both parties get along and that they have some type of connection and mutual respect.
Also, be looking to see if the potential babysitter is dressed appropriately, speaks intelligently, and seems to take an interest in your child.
Ask for References
Always ask for references and always check them out before hiring any one you don’t know personally.
The safety of your child is the most important thing, so whether you are looking to hire a friend of a friend, a co-worker’s daughter, or someone from an online caregiver service, be sure to check them out thoroughly before hiring them.
Ask for both personal and professional references so you can get an idea of both their character and their ability.
It might also be a good idea to do some checking in places like social media to see how this person behaves in their day to day life.
Trust Your Instincts
Always, always, always trust your own gut. If something feels off or odd about the person- listen to it.
If the person checks out great, acts great, your child seems to get along with them, but you just don’t feel right about it. Listen.
Sometimes our instincts can tell use what we can’t see. And even if your gut is wrong- it’s better to be safe than sorry. And it’s better to feel comfortable than feel worried the entire time you are out.
Take a Trial Run (Start Small)
If you aren’t comfortable leaving your child alone with someone new, try a trial run first. This is especially helpful if you are hiring a young teenager.
Hire them for a couple of hours when you will be around, but busy. They take care of the kids, you get some work done, and you get to see how the babysitter interacts with your child and look for any potential issues.
My first babysitting job was when I was 12 years old- since I was young, watching a 3 year old and a 5 year old, we started small. The couple need someone to watch their kids during choir practice. So I came to the church and watched the 2 kids in the nursery while they practiced each week for a couple hours. Eventually I graduated to watching the kids at their house and for longer periods on weekends, once we all gained some experience with each other.
This was a great in between option- I was alone with the kids but the parents were right down the hall if anything happened.
Where to Find a Babysitter That Meets Your Criteria
So now that you know how to choose a good babysitter, let’s talk about where to find a potential babysitter for your kids.
You now have a list of things you are looking for in a babysitter, so how do you translate that into finding the perfect CPR trained, diapering pro, who loves to play games and do crafts with the younger kids while helping the other with his math homework?
Here are some of the places to turn to, to find the perfect babysitter:
You will probably hear about babysitters from word-of-mouth.
- Ask friends, family, and neighbors to recommend someone who they have used before and loved.
- Ask everyone! Teachers, your pediatrician, other parents at school, basically anyone else who might have had a need for a babysitter might have a referral for you.
- See if your church has a list of teenagers who are specifically looking for babysitting jobs.
- Check with local high schools or colleges to see if they have a program or list of people looking for babysitting jobs
- Does you child go to daycare or after school care? Ask the staff members there. When I worked in a childcare facility parents were always hiring us to babysit!
- Check bulletin boards at the YMCA, local library, or other family friendly places- or put up your own notice there
- Post a job opening on sites like Care.com.
While choosing a good babysitter may seem impossible- if you follow these tips you will find the perfect babysitter and the perfect fit for your family!
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