Background checks, credit history reports, driving records, known aliases…if parents had their way, they’d have access to all this information (and more) when hiring a new babysitter. All joking aside (we certainly hope your potential babysitter doesn’t have any known aliases), finding a reliable, trustworthy person to care for your child while you’re away can be extremely stressful. Whether you need help on a daily basis while you work, or just someone to hold the fort down during the occasional date night, a great babysitter is something all parents look for at some point. But what exactly does a great babysitter look like? While you may have some specific criteria of your own, the following list is a good place to start when it comes to knowing what to look for in a new babysitter.
Nothing beats hands-on experience when it comes to childcare. You can read all the parenting books in the world (and you probably did!) and while they can give you some great information, they can’t quite prepare you for what it’s really like to be fully responsible for a child. Experience is a useful indicator of a good babysitter, not only because it means they have handled more situations and are more comfortable caring for children, but also because it likely means that they actually enjoy babysitting, and will therefore be more engaged while watching your children. It’s especially helpful if you can find a babysitter who has experience watching children with ages similar to your children. Watching a young baby is quite a bit different from watching a toddler, so experience with the right age group can make a big difference.
Does your potential sitter respond quickly to your text messages? Do they return your calls when you’re trying to get a hold of them? If you’ve scheduled an interview with them, or hired them to babysit, do they show up on time? A sitter’s reliability in these areas will likely carry over to their reliability in childcare, so don’t write these things off. You want someone you can count on to be responsible and on top of things.
Some babysitters are content to eat your food, sit on your couch, and watch your TV while the kids play in another room unsupervised. We have nothing against those sitters (okay, maybe we have a little something against those sitters), but you have to admit that it’s better to have a sitter who actually…you know…likes kids. Look for a babysitter who greets the kids, talks with them, and plays with them. This will create a better (and safer) experience for your child, so you can leave home knowing they’re in good hands.
A babysitter’s primary job is to make sure your children are safe while you’re away. Beyond that, however, it’s nice to find a babysitter who does their best to run the house the way you’d like it to be run. Does the babysitter hold the kids to their usual bedtime? Do they clean up any messes made while they were there? Do they know and enforce house rules? It’s important to communicate your expectations to your sitter, and it’s important to make sure they meet those expectations. If they don’t, you probably won’t be hiring them again any time soon.
Babysitting is, at the end of the day, a job. A babysitter should be professional—or at least, as professional as one can be while doing choo choo trains with baby food and making necklaces out of Fruit Loops. But your babysitter should be professional when it comes to things like communication, performance, and payment. It’s not unreasonable to expect your babysitter to treat you, your house, and your children in a polite, professional manner.
Want the best of the best? Then you definitely want a babysitter that has received child-specific CPR training. Knowing how to perform CPR on babies and children is a huge mark in the “pro” column on a babysitter’s resume. Not only does this mean that your potential sitter could save your child’s life in a life-threatening situation, but it also means that they take their job seriously and have the best interests of your child at heart. They are committed to providing you with the best possible service and to helping you feel comfortable when you leave your children under their care. These are the babysitters everyone wants, so if you’ve found one, hold on to them! Have a babysitter you love that isn’t CPR trained? Our infant and/or child CPR courses would make a great gift for your favorite babysitter, and would help them provide better service to you and other families. Good help might be hard to find, but when it comes to finding a babysitter, it’s extremely important to find it anyway. Use this list to get started, and hopefully it will help guide you to the sitter of your dreams (background check not required)!