Need a babysitter this holiday season? Entrusting someone to care for your kids can be challenging. Finding a qualified babysitter requires time and effort, but your reward is assurance that your child is in capable hands. You’ll want to find someone who is mature and friendly, has common sense, and a genuine fondness for children.
The recommendations of people you know and trust are your best bet for finding a reliable and capable babysitter. If you’re new to the area and don’t know how to go about finding a sitter, ask your neighbors or coworkers for recommendations, inquire at your place of worship, or ask staff in your pediatrician’s office for suggestions.
Interviewing sitters and checking their references will help you narrow down your choices. Prepare a list of questions to ask ahead of time. Consider inviting a sitter over for a dry run while you’re at home to familiarize him or her with your household and observe the interactions with your child.
Once you’ve found the perfect match for your family, and before you head out the door, be sure to prepare the sitter with the following helpful information:
- Go over your child’s usual routine (homework, bedtime, mealtimes) and your general house rules, including any limits on TV, computer use, video games, playing outside, etc.
- Make sure the sitter knows whom to contact in an emergency. Provide an emergency phone list that includes neighbors, friends, relatives, and your doctor. Write your own phone number and address on the list, so that in case of an emergency, the sitter can give that information to the 911 operator.
- Show the babysitter where emergency exits, smoke detectors, and fire extinguishers are located. Demonstrate how to enable and disable security systems and alarms if you have them.
- Show the sitter where you keep the inside door keys in case a child locks himself or herself inside a room.
- Let the sitter know of any special problems your child may have, such as an allergy to bee stings, certain foods, or household products, or the need for medication at a specific time (explain and write down the directions).
- Teach kids the meaning of 911 and how to call for help, so that if something happens to your babysitter, they know what to do.
Let your babysitter know your expectations before you leave. If you’d prefer that the sitter not leave the house with your child, make that clear. If the babysitter is a driver, let him or her know the rules about driving your kids. If the phone and visitors are off limits, discuss those restrictions.
For more on this topic, please visit CHOC’s Kids Health education resource.