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The task of considering leaving your child with a babysitter can be daunting for some parents of young children. If your immediate family members do not live locally or grandma is on vacation, finding alternative care for your children so you can take a break is something parents should consider carefully. How can parents be sure that the sitter is right for your child? How can parents ensure the person they choose is trustworthy, reliable, and caring? What should parents look for in a babysitter?
What should parents be looking for in a babysitter? What skills should they have?
If you are used to having your close relative, friends, or family members care for your children, think about the qualities they portray when they take care of your children. Does the alternative babysitter you find have similar qualities and characteristics?
Many people who babysit often will have First Aid and/or CPR certification. In the case of an emergency, this is an added bonus and a great skill for your babysitter to have.
Perhaps you require your new sitter to give you a few names or letters of reference – it never hurts to be too detailed when choosing the right fit for your kids!
Above all, your new babysitter should definitely have a decent amount of previous experience with children. Where do they work? Have they cared for children in the past? How do you know this information is valid?
Does age matter?
Don’t focus or get too caught up on the “age” of your babysitter. Do remember that age is only a number, but use your best judgment. There may be some 14 year olds out there that would make much better babysitters than an 18 or 20 year old! Remember to consider many factors – not just age – when choosing a sitter for your kids.
How can you be sure the sitter is right for you and your children?
When discussing potential babysitters with friends or neighbors, do not rely on comments from others such as, “she was good,” or, “he was fine.” Ask specific questions about potential candidates:
Did they arrive on time?
Do the children look forward to seeing this person?
Be sure to discover how your potential babysitter views discipline – is it consistent with yours?
Be sure the person you choose to care for your children is “compatible” with you and your family. Invite the person to your home to “play” with your children while you are there. Or better yet, invite the person to a family function. Do they mingle well with your family? Are they friendly? Do they interact with children?
Tips for preparing for the new sitter’s first night.
Create an easy access, easy to read folder for your babysitter’s first night with any contact information they may need. Remember not to scare them with this, though! Be sure your babysitter knows your child’s routines, eating habits, sleeping schedule, bathing, outdoor time, etc. Be sure your child knows this person is in charge – if your child is old enough, have a conversation not only with the new sitter about expectations for the night, but include your child in this conversation.
It is always a nice gesture if you have beverages and snacks appropriate for your babysitter as well as your kids – sitters aren’t too fond of drinking out of juice boxes!
- SMILE when you leave the house, and remind the kids and the sitter to be safe and HAVE FUN!
Heather is the Director of The Children's Workshop in Lincoln, RI. She first started her journey with the TCW family in 2007 in our Smithfield location as a Kindergarten teacher. She then entered the company's Management in Training Program, working in several of our locations while also training staff in various areas of early childhood education. She holds a BA from Providence College in Elementary and Special Education as well as a Master's Degree from Rhode Island College in Early Childhood Education. Her true passion is not only working with children, but sharing knowledge with families and teachers in order to provide the best early learning experience for all young learners. She is also a member of the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the Rhode Island Childcare Director’s Association, as well as the Rhode Island College Early Childhood Advisory Board.