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What to look for when hiring a babysitter

Ready to hire a babysitter to stay with your children while you run a few errands or go out to dinner? Many parents turn to young adults when they need a babysitter and there are some definite advantages. Teens, college students and other young adults are often playful and energetic so your children will enjoy their time together. However, some are better than others with safety or handling problems that may pop up. Take time to consider the qualities you need in a babysitter and how to make sure they will be the best fit for your family.

Woman and child drawing

What to look for in a babysitter

Regardless of age, there are a few things you should look for in a sitter:
  • What experience do they have with children?
  • Are they friendly? Mature? Can they give an example of being reliable?
  • Ask if they have taken a babysitting class. Red Cross babysitter training or Safe Sitter classes teach good child-watching strategies and basic first aid.

Making sure the babysitter is the best fit

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that you bring a prospective babysitter to your home to introduce him or her to your child, and pay him or her for an hour of childcare while you are there to watch.
  • Evaluate this first encounter in helping you make a final decision.
  • Ask your child about the sitter, and be sensitive to her comments.
  • Trust your intuition about whether the sitter will work out and follow that feeling.

Setting house rules

Girl playing with childrenOnce you’ve found a good sitter. Schedule time to review with the potential sitter your rules that apply when they are caring for your children:
If your child is old enough to understand these rules, make sure they know that you’ve shared them with the babysitter so everyone is on the same page. You should also take some time to talk to your child about your expectations for their behavior with the babysitter.

Special note about cell phones

If you hire a teen or young adult, be clear on your feelings about cell phone use while babysitting. Cell phones can be a terrible distraction and when watching young children, that distraction can be dangerous. Specify if/when you are comfortable with the sitter being on their phone (for example, only when your child is sleeping). Consider ahead of time how you feel about pictures or videos being taken of your child and if they should be kept off social media. Also clarify if your child is allowed to be on any device and what their limits should be.

Whether you ask the sitter to keep the phone charged and in their pocket so you can reach them easily or let them share photos with you throughout the day - be clear before you leave so there are no misunderstandings.

Want more? Review our checklists of important info to prepare for your babysitter.

Check out our app NP PEDS MD for further information and home care advice.

Focused pediatric care
There’s more to good health than wellness check-ups and sick visits. At Northpoint Pediatrics we offer specialized services to help with your child’s health: acne care, asthma care, sports medicine, breastfeeding help. Learn more.

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