Caring for Mom

How to Select a Babysitter

How to Select a Babysitter

It’s natural to focus on spending every moment possible with your new baby in the months after childbirth. But sooner or later you will need — or even want! — to get out of the house without baby in tow, whether for work, social or other reasons.

When that moment arrives, so does a very important decision: hiring a qualified, reliable babysitter. A sitter not only should fit your budget and schedule, but also should be someone who clearly enjoys children and is mature enough to ensure your child is in capable hands.

Choosing the Right Sitter for Your Child

One of the best ways to find a great babysitter is to ask for recommendations from trusted friends or family members. If you’re new to the area, these endorsements can come from neighbors, colleagues or staff members at your pediatrician or daycare facility.

Other ways to select a competent babysitter include:

  • Trading childcare with friends who have children.
  • Interviewing prospective sitters about their experience and checking references.
  • Asking candidates if they’ve taken a babysitter training course or are certified in infant and child CPR.
  • Inviting a babysitter over for a “dry run” at your house to spend time with your child while you’re home and observing their interactions to gauge comfort level.

Leaving Instructions While You’re Out

Before you step out, you’ll want to make sure to leave explicit instructions for your child’s babysitter. Communicating your little one’s nap or bedtime routine, likes and dislikes, and other pertinent information is crucial to a smoother transition in your absence.

This information should be written down and can include:

  • Where you’ll be and how you can be reached.
  • Your home address (if needed for 911 services).
  • The phone number for the Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222).
  • Emergency contact information for friends, relatives and your baby’s doctor in case you can’t be reached.
  • Any allergies your child may have or medication needed, with directions for when and how to give it.
  • Any food or drink to offer your child.
  • Where your household’s first aid kit is located.

What Else Should My Babysitter Know?

It’s a good idea to check in with your babysitter at least once while you’re out and to reiterate when you’re expected back. When you arrive home, ask the sitter how things went and voice any concerns you may have if your expectations weren’t met.

There’s also some fundamental information all babysitters should know:

  • Place babies to sleep on their backs, not their sides or tummies, to lower the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
  • Never shake a baby or young child, which can result in serious injury or death. Offer some ideas for how to soothe your little one if inconsolable.
  • Don’t let anyone in the house while parents are absent unless specifically OK’d in advance.
  • Never leave a child alone in the bathtub, even for a second.
  • Know all the ways out of the house in case of fire.