How to Find a Good Baby Sitter

Hiring baby sitters for your youngster can be a frightening prospect. There are hundreds of stories of caretakers who have neglected or worse yet abused the children in their care. Selecting a baby sitter does not have to be a challenging task however, and can be very safe, provided you consider a few key steps before hiring someone.

First and foremost, consider asking family members if they will consider baby sitting for short spells to give you and your partner some much needed relief in the early days or weeks after birth. Rest assured your newborn is likely safe with grandma, who has had several years experience raising children.

If you know many people with children, ask them if they have hired baby sitters in the past with any success. Better yet, see if you can begin a co-op with other parents, where you watch their kids one night in exchange for their services another.

No matter where you find someone, it is important that you leave your baby sitters with a checklist of vital information. This should include the following:
  • Your cell phone number
  • The number of your neighbor, close friend or family member in case your baby sitter can't reach you
  • Contact information for your local poison control center
  • 911 information
  • Your address, so the baby sitter can give that information to anyone in case of an emergency
  • A list of any food allergies or drug allergies your baby may have
  • Feeding instructions
  • The name and telephone of the place where you'll be for the evening/day/hour
Provide this information in an easy to find location should an emergency arrive. It might also be nice to provide your baby's companion with some food to snack on and a movie or two to watch if the baby is young and likely to sleep the majority of time you are gone. If your baby is older, you might consider a children's video and some toys.

Another great source for baby sitters is your local community center or YMCA. Consider joining one or two baby play groups. This will provide you some much needed relief, socialization and a chance to meet other parents/potential baby sitters. Many community centers also offer baby sitting services. For a small fee trained care providers will watch your little one for an hour or two while you work out.

Where to Look for Babysitters
  • Your network of friends and relatives with children: Other parents are a wonderful source of information about babysitting. Talk with them about their experiences with the sitter. What are his or her strengths or weaknesses? Often several families share a particular babysitter. Reliable babysitters may have friends or siblings who babysit.
  • Neighborhood middle schools, high schools, and colleges: Often schools have newsletters or bulletin boards where jobs can be posted. Colleges usually have student placement services that match students up with potential employers. Colleges that specialize in early childhood education are a particularly good place to find students genuinely interested in children. As a special bonus they may have some background in child development.
  • Your local senior center: Sometimes retired citizens are looking for part-time work. You could post a notice.
  • Advertising in a community or school newspaper: The advantage of this is that you will reach a wide pool of people. The disadvantage is that you will have no control over the number and range of people applying for the job. Certainly if you advertise in a newspaper, or through a notice on a bulletin board, it is essential to meet a babysitter and carefully check all references before you hire her.

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