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Tips on Choosing a Babysitter
Finding A Sitter
- Start looking for a sitter early. If you wait until the last minute, you may not have as many people to choose from.
- Ask around. Ask family, friends, neighbors, or coworkers if they know of any good babysitters.
- Advertise. Post ads in churches, civic organizations, high schools, or newspapers.
- Find certified babysitters. Look for classes by the Red Cross or YMCA.
Check your phonebook for sitting services.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Services with an insurance bond will cover certain damages or losses to your property. However, most are not likely to protect your children in any way.
- Check to see if the sitting service conducts criminal history checks and screens its employees.
Hiring A Sitter
- Check references carefully. Contact previous employers, teachers, neighbors, and relatives. Ask them about the candidate’s qualifications as a babysitter.
Interview potential sitters.
Look for candidates that are responsible, honest, patient, positive, competent, and caring. Here are some questions you may want to ask:
- How long have you been babysitting?
- What age groups have you worked with?
- Do you know cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)? Are you certified in CPR?
- Have you taken any baby-sitting training or first-aid courses?
- What days and hours are you available to sit?
- How would you handle a difficult situation, like an emergency, an illness, or bad behavior? (Look for answers that are positive and helpful.)
You want a sitter with whom you and your children will be comfortable. You should observe their interactions with you and your children. Here are some tips:
- Choose a sitter with whom you can relate—someone who shares your ideas about taking care of children and with whom you can be frank.
Choose a sitter who loves children and relates well to them. The sitter should:
- Give children plenty of attention and enjoy playing with them
- Use a gentle tone of voice
- Smile and laugh with children
- Use positive ways to help children behave (not hitting, slapping, shouting at, or scaring them)
- Keep the child comfortable and clean
Consider the age of the sitter.
In terms of the babysitter’s age, here are some things to consider:
- How old are your children? In general, the younger the child, the older the sitter should be. For example, you probably wouldn’t want a 12- or 13-year-old taking care of a child under age three.
- How long will the sitter need to watch your children? If it's for overnight, the sitter should be older.
- Many capable babysitters are preteens or young teens. However, if your sitter is a minor and something happens to your children while you are away, you are legally responsible.
- Where you can be reached (address, phone number)
- Rules about meals, play, TV, computer time, and friends
General safety guidelines, including:
- Important names and phone numbers
- Potential hazards
- Tips on bathing and changing the child
- Ways to handle an emergency
- How to keep the play areas safe
Talking to Your Children
American Red Cross http://www.redcross.org
TLC Child Care Locators http://www.childcarecenters.org/
About Kids Health http://www.aboutkidshealth.ca
Canadian Red Cross http://www.redcross.ca/
American Red Cross website. Available at: http://www.redcross.org.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children website. Available at: http://www.missingkids.com/.
The Nemours Foundation website. Available at: http://www.nemours.org/index.html.