Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Finding a good babysitter

by Malina
It is inevitable that at some point, you will need or want a babysitter. Sometimes I wish we lived near family merely because I could have instant wonderful babysitters available. Sometimes I wish I lived near family simply because I miss them, but when I am trying to find a reliable, trustworthy, affordable babysitter, it's usually a wish because of the hassle of locating a sitter. But then, I'm lucky to have great family that I can trust with my kids. Not everyone has that. Alas, I live a thousand miles from my nearest sibling. I have to look elsewhere for babysitters.


When I can, I often do swaps with good friends that I trust. I watch their kids one time, they watch my kids the next time. Several years ago we were lucky enough to participate in a babysitting co-op. There were four families with two kids each and we took turns watching the kids on Friday nights from 5-9pm. So once a month, I had eight kids at my house, but three nights a month we were able to go on child free dates.

Inevitably though, times come up when I cannot find anyone to watch my kids when I need a sitter. So how do you find a babysitter? What makes a good babysitter? How much do you pay a babysitter? Are you comfortable having a teenage sitter or only adults?

While teenagers who live in the neighborhood or attend church with you are one possible resource, you can also look to services like SitterCity to hire an adult or college aged babysitter.

Questions to consider asking a potential babysitter:

  • Are you a Red Cross certified babysitter?
  • Are you trained in CPR or first aid? 
  • What would a background check on you reveal?
  • How long have you been babysitting?
  • What age kids are you most comfortable watching?
  • How many kids are you comfortable handling? 
  • Are you comfortable with pets?
  • Could I talk to some other families for whom you have babysat?
  • What is your normal hourly rate?

What should you do to prepare for a babysitter?

  • Make sure contact numbers and emergency numbers are clearly posted.
  • Review or write down expected routines (bedtime, dinnertime).
  • Write down basic family rules and expectations.
  • Discuss with your kids what appropriate behavior is when a sitter in charge.

An excellent resource for things you may not think to tell or discuss with a babysitter can be found at this link. Another great link.

If you are lucky and find a great sitter that your kids love and they are reliable, trustworthy, affordable - treat them right! Make sure they are happy and willing to babysit for you again! Always return when you say you will, or call immediately if there are problems. A small bonus for a job well done always helps too!

How have you chosen babysitters? What do you think is the most important thing to consider?

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