How to select a great babysitter

Learn how to find a babysitter who will make you and your child happy.

According to the 2017 Babysitter Survey results, most parents rely on three methods when selecting a babysitter:

  • Rely on recommendations from friends and neighbors (88 percent).
  • Ask extended-family members to babysit (81 percent.
  • Use an online service (73 percent).

Selecting a babysitter is the just the beginning of this process. It is difficult to decide who to trust with your child, but the following steps can simplify the process.

Select two or three babysitters who preliminarily meet your criteria. Next, interview the candidates. A list of feasible questions can be derived from the following areas:

  • Past experience in babysitting children who are in your child’s age range
  • Babysitting certifications or classes
  • Certification in infant and child cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
  • Certification in pediatric first aid
  • Rate of pay
  • Ability to work overtime
  • Willingness to do other chores
  • Discipline methods

When you decide on a babysitter, ask for references and run a background check on adults. Set up a trial run to observe how your child and babysitter interact. Trust your parental instincts. If you feel uneasy at any stage of this process, do not hire the babysitter.

Prior to the babysitting engagement, review your child’s routine with the sitter. Explain what is permissible for the child to do. Let the sitter know your child’s favorite books, movies and activities. Replenish your supply of items that are routinely used or consumed by the child.

Discuss your household rules and list any areas of your home that are off limits. Provide a list of chores or other duties to be done. Answer any questions that the sitter may have.

Provide a list of important numbers to leave with your sitter. Some examples are 911, your address, your cell number, poison control (1-800-222-1222) and phone numbers of relatives or neighbors to contact in case of an emergency.

After you return home, ask for feedback about the session and the child. Remember to pay the sitter. Talk with your child about their interaction and time spent with the sitter. This will help you decide if you will hire the same sitter again or if you should repeat the selection process.

To learn about the positive impact children and families experience due to Michigan State University Extension programs, read our 2016 Impact Reports: “Preparing young children for success” and “Preparing the future generation for success.” Additional impact reports, highlighting even more ways Michigan 4-H and MSU Extension positively impacted individuals and communities in 2016, can be downloaded from the Michigan 4-H website.

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