Learn how to find a babysitter you can rely on when you ned someone to watch the kids.
- Written by Genevieve Howland
- Updated on May 24, 2019
You know how important date night is for your relationship, but you’re panicking: Who can you possibly trust to take care of your precious baby? It’s a totally normal reaction, but here’s a bit of good news: It is possible to take good care of yourself and make sure your children are well taken care of—if you know how to find a babysitter you can trust.
I know it sounds intimidating, but you can do this. Let’s break it all down, including:
- How to find a babysitter
- How to vet babysitters
- Plus, how much to pay your babysitter
How to Find a Babysitter
When you’re trying to figure out how to find a babysitter, the first step is to build a rolodex of names. Don’t overthink this part—just ask people you trust for the names and numbers of people they trust. If you cast a wide net, you’re more likely to find someone that’s a good match for you and your family.
Ask friends and family if they know any babysitters they would recommend. People in your personal network know you and your style, and they’ll only refer you to someone they trust. Trust is key.
Leverage other local moms
Another great resource for babysitting referrals is your local community. Is there a local moms group or Facebook page? That’s a great place to ask for babysitter referrals. Other local meet-ups, like the La Leche League or mommy and me classes are also good places to begin your search.
Try trusted organizations
Organizations and local businesses can also provide referrals. Call or stop by your church or local YMCA, daycare center, or preschool. Many places like the library or community center will have a bulletin board where you can find local sitters’ contact information. Some communities even offer a babysitting class for young people—ask if there is a list of people who have taken the class that are looking for babysitting jobs.
Hire an agency
Of course, there are also websites and agencies that can help. Sites such as care.com and Sittercity often charge a fee to gain access to special features like background checks, but can be a wealth of information. Just use caution when expanding your search online: Some of these agencies conduct background checks, but it’s important to do your own due diligence too. (More on this below!)
Finding a Babysitter: How to Vet Candidates
So you’ve got some names and numbers… now what? It’s important to fully vet your babysitter before planning the big (or little) getaway—regardless of where you got the babysitter referral.
Schedule an interview
This can be done over the phone, but in person is ideal. You’ll get a much more comprehensive read on the person through face-to-face interactions and body language.
During that initial meeting, here are some key things to ask your potential babysitter:
- How many years of experience do you have?
- How many kids do you generally watch at a time? And how old are they?
- Do you have formal training through an organization like The Red Cross?
- Are you certified in CPR or first-aid? Are either of your certifications infant- and/or child-specific?
- Do you have other certifications, like child education, that may be relevant?
- How would you describe your style as a caregiver?
- Do you have a good driving record?
- Have you ever faced a criminal charge?
- Do I have your permission to conduct a background check?
Even if you have a good feeling about a candidate after that initial interview, don’t forget to complete your homework by calling references and conducting a background check. This person will be caring for your child, and you don’t want any surprises.
Here are some questions you should ask a reference:
- What have you hired this babysitter for? What were their job duties and responsibilities?
- Is the caregiver reliable and professional?
- Can you describe his/her personality and caregiving style? Are they playful, engaged, and attentive?
- How well do they follow your instructions?
- How well have they handled any problems or emergencies?
If the reference is vague, ask for specific examples. If they can’t provide any, that may be a sign that something is amiss. Trust your gut. If something does feel quite right, it’s better to walk away. With a little persistence, you will find the right babysitter for your family.
Conduct a background check
It may sound intimidating, but a simple background check can reveal a lot about someone. This is an especially important step if your babysitter will be driving your child anywhere or doing overnight care.
- The DIY route: You might be able to do a limited background check on your own. Ask your local police department to help you run criminal records and request driving records from the Department of Motor Vehicles.
- Professional options: There are multiple private agencies that conduct a full background check for a small fee, but be wary of “instant” online background checks. Check the National Association of Professional Background Screeners to find an accredited screening firm. This step is definitely worth the investment!
Schedule a test run
If everything checks out, the last step is to invite the prospective babysitter over for a “test run.” Schedule a time for the candidate to come over, explaining that you’ll be home getting things done while they have a chance to get acquainted with your little one(s). You should offer to pay them for this time, though they may offer to visit at no charge.
During the test run, give them space but stay close enough to observe their style. And most importantly, notice what your intuition tells you about the way they interact with your loved ones.
Qualities of a Good Babysitter
During the hiring process and test phase, be on the lookout for the following qualities of a good babysitter:
- Professional: Your ideal babysitter will be punctual and an effective communicator.
- Comfortable: Your babysitter should play well, engaging your little ones with ease, patience, and a positive attitude.
- Competent: Your sitter should be skilled in the tasks you need them to complete. Make sure they know how to properly hold and care for a baby, prepare healthy snacks, load kids into the stroller or car, and so on.
- Likable: Your child will let you know if they like the babysitter, either directly or through unspoken signals. Pay close attention and don’t underestimate a child’s cues.
What to Pay a Babysitter
So you’ve found a qualified babysitter and you’re ready to plan your date night?!
Babysitting rates generally range from $12-20 per hour, but vary greatly based on the person’s experience, your geographic location, and the number of children they’re caring for. Ask your friends what they pay their babysitters or use online tools to establish a baseline, but be prepared to have a candid conversation about compensation. This will help avoid awkward or disappointing moments later.
One bit of advice: If you find a good babysitter, treat them like a precious gem, and pay them well. Finding good help isn’t easy, especially when caring for your most precious little ones. Cherish a good sitter!
People involved in our kids’ lives are so important. If you’re on a budget, you can be creative in meeting your needs. Maybe you find one babysitter who is looking to gain experience but has a lower rate, so you ask this person to come over while you are doing work at home, and reserve your more-experienced babysitter for when you are out.
You Got This (With Help)
Parenthood is a major balancing act and we should never feel like we have to do it all! Though there’s nothing quite like quality time with your children, time apart is good, too. Finding a great babysitter ensures you have time for yourself, your relationships, and the things you need to get done. Skillful and loving caregivers are all around—you will find the right fit for your family.