How to Choose a Good Babysitter

Holding out for a cross between Mary Poppins and Mrs. Doubtfire may be aiming too high, but you don’t have to settle for a surly teen either.

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Up next in New Parents Survival Kit (19 videos)

Whether you're having your first kid or your fifth, there's some parenting news you can use in this Howcast video series, including how to lose the baby weight; how to reignite your sex life; how to calm a crying baby; how to get a newborn to sleep; how to find a good babysitter; how to be a stay-at-home dad; and much more.

You Will Need

  • Diligence
  • A “Consent to Treat” form (optional) (optional) (optional)

Steps

  1. Step 1

    Ask around

    Ask around. The best way to find a great babysitter is to ask friends and relatives for recommendations.

  2. Step 2

    Use community resources

    Consult your local library, hospital, Red Cross, or YMCA for names of certified babysitters who’ve graduated from their childcare classes. They’ll only recommend their best students and you’ll know the person is trained to handle emergencies.

  3. Step 3

    Conduct interviews

    Ask the babysitter tough questions about her background and what she would do in tough, hypothetical situations—like if a fire started or if your child was choking.

  4. Step 4

    Check references

    Ask for references and call them. Be suspicious of anyone who can’t provide any recent employers who can vouch for her.

  5. Keep the contact info of all your top candidates, even if you don’t wind up choosing them. That way you’ll have a list of screened back-ups if your regular babysitter is unavailable.

  6. Step 5

    Let your kids be the judge

    Make an excuse to leave the babysitters you are interviewing alone with your child for 20 minutes or so. When you re-enter the room, notice how your child is reacting to the potential sitter. Children are often more perceptive than adults.

  7. Many emergency crews won’t treat a minor in a parent’s absence without a 'Consent to Treat' form. Get one from your local police or fire department, sign it, and let the babysitter know where it is.

  8. Step 6

    Come home early

    The first time you use a new sitter, come home 30 minutes before you said you would. This will give you a true idea of how things are, rather than of what the babysitter wants you to see.

  9. Did you know? Ann M. Martin wrote 131 novels in the Baby-sitter's Club series.

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