Thursday, April 22, 2010

Tips for Hiring a Babysitter

NOTE FROM SUSAN: I still remember the day we went to interview the woman who would become my two oldest boys’ babysitter. I worked in an office back then, and I really wanted someone who could care for my oldest son (and my second son after his birth) in a loving home environment. When we walked in, her whole family was there to greet us! Her husband and two school-aged children were so engaging and warm. Her home was clean and bright. She just melted with love when she saw my little son. I knew right away that we had found the right person. Sure enough, she remained our babysitter until both my boys went to all-day kindergarten. She loved my boys so much that she’d offer to keep them some weekends for free, just to give me some time to myself (when I became a single mom). She was like my boys’ second mother, and I felt so much less stress about not being home with them when I knew they were with a loving caregiver. I was truly blessed because I know that finding a great babysitter or other childcare arrangement can be difficult. To help in the search, Candi Wingate, President of, has some terrific tips to offer.

Choosing who will care for your child when you are away is one of the most important decisions we make as parents, and peace of mind that your child is safe and happy is top priority. Long gone are the days when finding a babysitter was dependent on word of mouth. Today, services like provide a massive database for everyone to find their perfect child care match with just the click of a mouse. With such a vast array of qualified candidates at your fingertips, here are a few tips to help make the process easier.

Make a list of your requirements.
Before you start the interview process, it’s a good idea to figure out what you’re looking for in a babysitter. Think about the hours you require, the amount of experience you’re looking for, the type of childcare philosophy, and whether any household duties will be involved.

Do your homework.
Your child’s safety is top priority. Conduct background checks and thoroughly check references.

Ask the right questions.
These could include things like the number of years she has had as a childcare provider, what type of training has she had, what ages has she dealt with, and what her ideas are on childrearing.

Include your child.
It is best to conduct initial interviews without your child present. There is no need to confuse your son or daughter by introducing him or her to multiple caregivers who they will likely never see again. Introduce your best candidate to your child and observe how they interact together. Does the babysitter actively engage him or her? Is she keeping your child entertained?

Be clear about discipline.
The babysitter must be able to relate with your family and administer discipline to your children in a manner that is appropriate and consistent with your family’s boundaries. You and your babysitter should discuss, prior to hiring, the discipline style that your family would like the babysitter to use.

Explain boundaries.
The babysitter should be capable of handling small “crises” on his/her own. You and your babysitter should come to an agreement about what issues may warrant a call to you and what issues the babysitter is authorized to handle on his/her own. Your babysitter should be able to act comfortably within the boundaries you have provided.

Finding the right babysitter for your child is a critical decision. Take your time and be picky in your choice. Ideally, this babysitter will be in your child’s life for as long as possible so they can form a long-lasting relationship and truly enjoy their time together.

Candi Wingate is an expert in the child care industry with over 20 years experience. She is the founder of and, and author of 100 Tips for Nannies & Families and mother of two.


  1. I can't stress enough to be thorough with your questions and get references, more than one. It is also a good idea to get references from people like you, not always so easy to do. I was in a situation once where I hired a babysitter to take care of my daughter during the days in my home. I work from home so thought it would be a great idea. Not so great. I thought I did a good job of getting references (only one from a neighbor that I don't know all that well), interviewed her, and did everything I thought needed to be done. It didn't last more than a couple of weeks before I realized it just was not going to work. It wasn't a good match. She may have been good for another home but just didn't work out right here. Ask, ask, ask lots of questions! Make sure it is right!

  2. Thank you for the great post! is here to answer any questions you have about hiring a babysitter, tutor, housekeeper, pet sitter or elderly companion.

  3. Great post with excellent tips.

    As a former nanny agency owner, I would like to echo the advice about conducting background checks and especially checking references. A nanny candidate with a great personality can shine during an interview, but it is important to make sure her references are glowing as well.

    I also recommend, which was rated by my website, Nanny Services Guide, as the "Most Experienced" online nanny service.

  4. Very good advice. This is definitely not a decision to be made lightly. And ALWAYS check references!


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