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Choosing and Instructing a Babysitter

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 is genuinely fond of children.

Emergency contact sheet

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. If your child is already enrolled in a daycare or after-school care program, staff members who are already familiar with your child may be willing to either babysit or provide sitter recommendations.

Interviewing sitters and checking their references will help you narrow down your choices. Prepare a list of questions to ask ahead of time. Ask about a sitter's experience caring for kids and whether he or she is certified in infant and child CPR or has taken a babysitter course. (Your local YMCA, community hospital, or American Red Cross chapter might have a list of babysitters who have completed their babysitting safety and infant and child CPR courses.)

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.

Babysitter Instructions

Before you walk out the door, prepare the sitter with the following information:

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.

Sitter Safety

Make sure the sitter knows these safety rules:

After you return, ask your kids if they enjoyed the sitter's visit. When you find a reliable sitter they like, you're sure to have a more relaxing and enjoyable time away from home.

Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: January 2014

Note: All information on KidsHealth® is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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