Every now and then, parents need a break! Taking the night off by hiring a babysitter can be a great way to prevent burnout and enable you to take even better care of your child after a much needed reprieve. But before you leave your little one with a caregiver for the night, you have the task of making sure the sitter is as prepared to care for your child as you are. This means knowing who is a best fit, what questions to ask, and so much more! Keep reading for our tips on how to choose the perfect babysitter!

How to Start

Maybe you have a family member, neighbor, or friend in mind already, or maybe you need to find someone entirely new. Either way, don’t worry! Just keep in mind a few things to ensure that your intended sitter is a qualified and appropriate match before you leave your child with them. So what should be at the top of your list of what to ask a babysitter before hiring them? Start with their background and qualifications. 

First thing to note is an appropriate age range that you are comfortable with. Babysitters should be no less than 13 years old yet young enough to stay alert. While a trusted teen might be a suitable choice for your family, keep in mind that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends hiring babysitters who are trained or certified in first aid and CPR. Knowledge of a sitter’s preparedness for emergency situations can not only help keep your baby safe but also bring you confidence when leaving your little one at home. 

Questions to Ask

Before you get cold feet about leaving your baby at home, set your mind at ease with these important questions: What is their previous experience? Can they provide a reference? What prior safety and skills training do they have? 

Beyond the ideal duties of a sitter, it is also vital to understand what services they are comfortable providing. Are they able to cook for your child or properly dispense any necessary medications? Do they feel prepared to take action in an emergency situation? The responses you receive from these questions can not only tell you about what a sitter is willing to do, but how they would react in a given situation.

Get in Touch

Perhaps the hardest part of hiring a babysitter is knowing that your baby is out of reach, even if it is just for a quick dinner date with your partner! For safety reasons, and your own peace of mind, make sure that your babysitter is able to get in touch with you, your partner, your parents, your neighbors, the emergency services, and anyone else who could assist them in the event of an unforeseen circumstance. 

Each relevant person’s contact information is an essential part of a babysitter checklist for parents. So, be sure to make a list of contacts (especially and extensively your own) for a sitter to reach out to. Add the full names, phone numbers, email addresses, and home addresses of each of these people as well as pediatrician and emergency department information so that you and your babysitter will have no doubt in their ability to reach someone who can help them in case of a burning question or emergency.

Before You Go

Need a hot tip for hiring a babysitter? Get to know your babysitter in person first and introduce them to your child before the day you need them. Make sure your kids know who the person is, what their role is, and ensure that everyone is getting along well with the new person. After the babysitter is familiarized with your children, be sure to show them around your home as well. They will need to know where everything is including first aid and other health and safety equipment such as epipens and fire extinguishers. 

If your child needs medication, go over that with your babysitter in advance and ensure they know what to do. Make them aware of any health concerns, such as allergies your child might have so they stay away from certain foods, allergens, or other concerns. Before leaving, be sure to secure any potentially dangerous items so that the babysitter won’t need to worry.

Set High Expectations

Your baby is your responsibility, always. So, when you let a babysitter watch your child it is vital that they know what your preferences are. Explain your expectations in advance about things like food, bedtime, rewards, discipline, and what constitutes a reason to make a call for help — topics all key to a thorough babysitter checklist for parents.

So, make sure your sitter knows how to best reach you and when you want them to reach out. Do you want to be notified if your sitter is unable to console your child? Do you want to be called if your child misbehaves? Be clear that if there is an emergency they must call 911 right away and contact you as soon as possible after. However, you can also allow them the freedom to do what needs to be done to best prioritize the health and safety of your child.  

At Coastal Kids Pediatrics, we are here for you every step of the way in ensuring that your child is in good hands. So, when curating a babysitter checklist for parents, feel free to include your pediatrician’s contact information, in case you are unreachable and your sitter needs non-emergency medical advice. If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to  your pediatrician for any further tips for hiring a babysitter, as always, we are happy to help!