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4 Tips for Choosing the Right Babysitter

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It's tricky to choose the right sitter for your child. We've got an expert from Care.com on questions to ask, what to look for, and listening to your gut.

  1. Choose a Quiet, Public Place to Meet

  2. two woman talking over coffee

    It's easy – especially if you're sleep-deprived – to have your mind go blank when you're face-to-face with a potential sitter. So make sure you interview without distractions and in a public place. This might mean you have to meet at a coffee shop when it’s not busy, but it’s important to start this out as a professional process. Plus, it’s easier to focus when you aren’t nursing, shushing, or running after a newly mobile child!

  3. Ask Questions that Get to the Heart of Things

  4. a question mark hanging on a back board

    Of course you want to ask about things like availability, rate, if she has a car, if she's a smoker, etc. But you also want to know things like: Does she have experience with kids your child's age? How much? Does she know CPR and how to deal with choking and if not, is she willing to learn? How has she dealt with a past emergency? What's her child care and discipline philosophy, etc.

    Use this Babysitter Interview Guide as a starting point and be sure to ask scenario-based questions like, what would you do if someone came to the door/the baby fell out of his high chair/can’t get the baby to sleep? If you like her on-the-spot answers, you’ll probably like how she handles any curve balls thrown her way.

  5. Screen Her

  6. a mom doing some research on a laptop

    Whether you use a service like Care.com that does background checks or your best friend recommends her, consider running a thorough check on your own. A few musts are calling references, googling her and running an extensive background check (I recommend our Preferred Plus Background Check because it has a driving record search, and you can learn a lot about a person’s maturity and responsibility based on speeding and parking tickets!).

    Be sure you call each reference and talk to her former employers. Remember, it doesn’t have to be a parent. You can get a great sense of her professionalism and attitude from a past or current manager.

  7. Do a Trial Run

  8. a baby sitter talking to a baby

    This gives you a built-in out if things aren't working. Agree to one day or a week, or however long feels appropriate. And try to actually be there for some of the time she's sitting, doing things around the house while keeping an ear open. You'll know pretty quickly if it's working or not. And if not, you can just thank her, pay her, and tell her it's not the right fit at this time. If it does work: CONGRATS, mama!

    This is hard stuff and you did it! Bonus? I love the kid-test because you can actually do some work around the house while watching them interact. I often clean up the toy room and listen to them play. How does she act if they disagree? Does she look panicked if the baby cries? It’s a great way to gauge if they are legitimately connecting...while also getting some stuff done around the house.

 
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