If you’re like most parents, the thought of leaving your little one with a stranger fills you with considerable dread. You know not to listen to horror stories, but you want to keep your baby safe. How can you find a sitter you can trust?
You don’t always want to burden your parents or in-laws — after all, they deserve to enjoy their retirement as they see fit. However, you’ll never enjoy date night without peace of mind. Here are six tips for how to hire a babysitter so that you feel safe leaving your angel in their care.
1. Talk to Others
Indubitably, the best source of parenting advice comes from — you guessed it — other parents. Talk to the people in your social circle, but clarify that you don’t want to steal their trusted sitter away. As much as most folks love sharing their expertise, they don’t want to compete with you on hot dates like the Friday before a 3-day weekend.
Instead, you might ask questions like what certification program their babysitter attended or whether their help could recommend an equally qualified friend. People tend to associate with others similar to them. If one of the moms in your playdate circle has a responsible and reliable nanny, that individual will want to safeguard their reputation by recommending only other highly dedicated professionals.
2. Require Certification
Babysitting can seem like a cake job, and sometimes it is. After all, if your help arrives after you put the kids to bed, they might not need to do anything more than relax and watch TV for a few hours while minding the monitor. That’s honestly the best-case scenario in such situations.
However, as a parent, you know that emergencies arise. If your baby starts choking, will your sitter know how to perform the Heimlich maneuver in an age-appropriate fashion? At a minimum, you should require basic first aid and CPR certification through an organization like the American Red Cross. Such training is now available online — so there are no more excuses about waiting for a local class.
Additionally, you might want to consider additional certifications. Many organizations now offer babysitting training courses that teach skills such as gently disciplining children and encouraging healthy growth. They also cover how to handle basic emergencies, such as what to do during a power outage.
3. Think Outside the Teenage Box
Traditionally, parents looked to their older children to mind younger ones or used a local teen if they didn’t have a large family. However, no law says that you have to hire your best friend’s 16-year-old. If you do go that route, ensure they express a genuine interest in working with children — like some adults, certain teenagers don’t want anything to do with child-raising.
However, in today’s economy, other working parents need more flexibility than ever before. Many stay-at-home moms start in-home daycare businesses, and some have expanded into evening hours for their small client circle. You might enjoy improved peace of mind knowing that someone with little ones of their own is watching yours.
Get innovative with your fellow mom-tribe. Can you take turns watching each other’s children to give each other breaks? Perhaps you can set up an alternating weekend schedule.
If you’re a member of the pull-in-and-shut-it garage-door club, try getting a little more social in your neighborhood. You don’t necessarily want to say, “Hey, Bob, can you please watch my kids this Saturday,” to your next-door neighbor if you don’t have an established relationship. However, you might mention your need in passing, and they might recommend someone local they know who is responsible and needs work.
4. Start Small
When you find a new sitter, don’t test them for the first time while taking a 2-day weekend Vegas trip. It’s less traumatic for both you and your child to introduce them first and start with small outings, making sure to provide emergency information for them.
If your child has severe separation anxiety, you might want to have your sitter come over while you remain at home but go into another room. If you get your little one used to you being gone in 5 to 15-minute doses, they’ll behave less fearfully when you step out for the night.
Either way, leave your child with the sitter for only short excursions until you build trust. Yes, terrible things can happen in little time, but you decrease the chances while raising your peace of mind.
5. Ask the Tough Questions
The number one question many parents probably want to ask a prospective sitter is, “have you ever abused a child or suspected one you worked with was” — but next to no one asks. Of course, you don’t expect them to respond with an affirmative answer to the first part, but the way they react can offer you insightful clues about how much you can trust them.
When hiring a babysitter, conduct a formal interview. After all, you are entrusting your child’s life with this person. Ask them the tough questions like what they would do if they suspected abuse or if a fire broke out while you were away. If you can’t trust them enough to respond honestly, why do you feel comfortable leaving them with your kid?
6. Trust Your Gut
Finding the perfect sitter is a chore. It’s natural to dismiss that nagging inner voice that tells you something isn’t quite right with that “perfect” individual you found.
Think of it this way — you hire a babysitter so that you can go out and enjoy your life outside of parenthood. You can’t possibly achieve relaxation and fun if all you do is worry.
The bottom line: if your gut tells you something is off about a prospective sitter, keep searching without explanation or excuse. It might take you longer to find the right one, but you’ll thank yourself for the peace of mind once you do.
Learn How to Hire a Babysitter With These Tips
One thing all parents must do is learn how to hire a babysitter. Use these tips to find the best childcare provider for your baby.
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