Choosing a Babysitter

Questions for Your First Daycare ProviderHaving a sitter that’s not a family member can be very scary the first time around. It’s hard to trust a stranger with your baby, especially when your baby isn’t old enough to speak up for herself or tell you things. But when you have a sitter you trust, there’s nothing better.

There are many criteria to consider when choosing a sitter for your family. Price, age of the sitter, experience, CPR training, and whether they have kids of their own are all important things to consider. Asking friends and family for names is usually the best route to go. They’ll be happy to pass on the name of a great sitter. If you’re in a new area, ask around at church or in online mom’s groups.

Before you ever use a sitter, meet with them in person, either at your home or their home, depending on where they will be keeping baby. Write down some open-ended questions for them in advance. Here are a few I like to ask:

  • Have you ever had to react in an emergency situation? What happened? How did you respond?
  • What is the most children you’ve ever watched at once?
  • Do you stay in touch with any families you have babysat for?
  • When was the last time you got a traffic ticket? What was it for?

These questions always helped me with determining what their judgment is like. If you let people talk long enough, they will tell you what you want to know, good or bad. It’s just human nature to be yourself.

Always ask for references, and then actually call and talk to them. If you are interviewing a minor, talk to the parents as well. If you are interviewing an adult, ask for permission to do a background check. They are not expensive and you don’t need very much information from them to find out a lot about them. You can find forms online.

Use social media in your favor. Ask your sitter for social media profiles and handles and check out what they post. It will give you insight into their judgment and character.

Another tip is to ask if they have ever worked in church childcare. Church childcare workers, especially at large churches, are usually background checked, reference-checked and often go through abuse prevention training. If they have worked for a church nursery, you can look the church up online to research how they vet their childcare workers.

As moms, we don’t need someone perfect to watch our children. What we do want to find is someone who will put our child first, above their phone and their friends and family for that short time, pay attention to them, play with them and be attentive to their needs just as we would. Hopefully these tips will help you find the perfect sitter for your family.

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mother of three who has had some really great sitters! She lives and writes in Oklahoma City.

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