When the time comes to allow a babysitter to take care of your children, even for a small period, finding just the right babysitter does not have to be a stressful event. Babysitters are generally younger and less expensive than a nanny. They provide intermittent, on-call care for children, but even though care is minimized and infrequent, you still have to do your homework to find the best babysitter for your children’s needs.

Choosing the Best Babysitter: Babysitting 101
Taking the first step in finding a family babysitter is difficult for some parents. Babysitters are generally teens or young adults looking to make a little extra money on the side; they are rarely trained in childcare, which means you must rely heavily on recommendations from other parents and your first impression or gut reaction of the babysitting candidate. Use the following steps to help guide your search:

  1. Ask Around: There is a good chance at least one of your friends uses the same babysitter regularly. Ask around for recommendations for local babysitters with experience and the qualities you are looking for in a care provider. Try to compile a list of multiple babysitters as the best babysitters may have quite a full schedule on evenings and weekends.
  2. Look at Friends and Family: Many parents overlook the obvious. If your brother or sister has an older, responsible child, why not keep babysitting in the family? For even more variety, look to close friends who have older children in the home willing to babysit for a few hours once in a while. 
  3. Check References: Most babysitters have some experience, but they may not have a formal reference list to provide. Ask the babysitting candidate forwritten references or names and phone numbers from other parents they have worked with in the past. Feel free to talk with his/her parents candidly about the babysitting candidate’s best/worst qualities. 
  4. Verify CPR and First Aid Certification: Safety is extremely important – so all babysitters need to be certified in CPR and first aid. If you found a babysitter who is not certified in CPR and first aid, find a local class and ask the babysitter if he/she would like to attend. Some towns even offer babysitting classes for a small fee that include CPR and First Aid certification. 
  5. Take the Babysitter for a Trial Run: Once you have everything you need to give the babysitter a shot, plan a trial run. Start with a one-on-one play session with your child and the babysitter. After an hour or so, step out of the house for 30 to 60 minutes. Upon return, ask the babysitter and child about the time they spent together before adding the babysitter to speed dial.

Parents need some time out once in a while. Babysitters provide inexpensive, on-call care for date night, late nights at work or simply a little alone time.

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