How to Find a Babysitter (and Make the Right Choice)

Baby sitter entertaining cute little girl

When it comes to finding a babysitter for your kids, the task can feel daunting. You are, after all, leaving your most cherished people in the care of someone else. This is a vital parental decision that you definitely want to research and think through. Know how to find a babysitter that will complement your family by learning about your options and taking important factors into consideration.

Who Do You Know?

Sometimes the things you are looking for are sitting directly in front of you! When thinking about hiring a babysitter, consider the people already in your life. Maybe you have a niece or nephew living nearby who is approaching babysitting age. Do you have a neighbor with teenage kids in need of a summer job? Perhaps your elementary-aged kids go to school where young teachers work. Are any of them wanting to earn extra money in the summers or evenings? Many times you can score a perfect babysitter just by thinking about candidates already in your life.

Go by Word of Mouth

You are not the first person to need a babysitter. Many parents have gone before you, hiring out the care of their kin to others. Sometimes the best help can be found simply by asking trusted friends and family who they use as a babysitter. Word of mouth is a powerful tool. It can also be reassuring to know a friend or neighbor used a certain babysitter and had great success. You already know from the jump that they can handle the gig with someone else! Aside from speaking directly to others who use sitters, check out local avenues for help in the childcare department.

Local Facebook Groups

Oh, the power of social media. It is astounding how far you can reach with a few clicks of a button. Thanks to the internet, nothing is impossible to find anymore, including local, quality child care. If you use Facebook or Nextdoor.com, reach out and see if local friends and neighbors have a babysitter they'd recommend. Check out parent-based Facebook groups for members of your community and reach out to the members who live by you. Many have sitters they have used and had success with, or they have older kids of their own in search of a babysitting job.

Nearby Universities

If your family lives near a university, you are in luck. Not only are universities excellent places to foster creativity, culture, learning, and diversity, but they are prime spots for landing top-notch babysitters. Post ads in the child development and education buildings of the local university. There is a good chance one of those hungry, strapped for cash kids is more than willing to babysit for your family and earn some moolah. College kids often take classes throughout the day and week, and their schedules will change per semester. Still, if you need babysitting services on a fairly inconsistent basis and can be flexible with your time, universities are a great space to begin your search.

Baby sitter and boy playing with geometric puzzle box

Take to the Net

If word of mouth, Facebook, Nextdoor.com, and local educational institutes don't flush a sitter out for you, there is still hope. Dozens of apps and websites are devoted to matching families with prime caregivers.

Care.com

Care.com is the largest online provider of caregivers, so there is an excellent chance that you will land your dream sitter here. The site spans 20 different countries and has helped some 25 million people find help with their kids, pets, and homes. The app allows parents to find sitters, book babysitting jobs, pay the sitters directly, and leaves reviews for services they have used. There is a sign-up fee to use the services, and it is worth... every ... penny.

Sittercity.com

Sittercity.com is an app that connects people with all sorts of caregivers, whether they are babysitters, pet sitters, senior caretakers, tutors, or house sitters. You can either search by your zip code and see what is available in your general area, or post a job on the site. Matches will populate depending on the skills you desire and the schedule you require. After matches are created, parents have the opportunity to read references and do a background check.

Urbansitter.com

Urbansitter.com is home to some 15,000 potential babysitters located in sixty different cities. The service is revered for its rapid response time from babysitters, and parents in a bind can often locate someone reliable to care for their children. Parents can post jobs for sitters to pick up, and look at pay rates, credentials, and experience of the babysitters listed on the site. Those choosing to use this space do have a monthly fee to pay, but many are happy to oblige because of the convenience the app offers.

Helpr.com

Parents in a pinch might find Helpr.com to be a fantastic option for babysitting services. If you need a babysitter at a moment's notice, this app has you covered. Every possible babysitter with a Helpr.com profile must have at least 2 years of babysitting experience, have completed phone and in-person screenings, have reputable references, undergo a social media review, and be trained in CPR. The best part... you only pay for the services, no hidden monthly fees! Currently, parents in major cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Atlanta, Seattle, and Chicago can utilize Helpr.com's services.

Bambino

Bambino has meshed social media with a need for childcare. The babysitting app takes your Facebook account and connects it with babysitters that your Facebook "friends" have used and reviewed. Sitters listed on the site have one of four possible levels assigned to them, with levels reflecting age and experience. The app is free to download, and the booking fee is $2 to $3 per session.

Do They Make the Cut?

So you have a few sitters in mind? Great. Finding potential caregivers is the first step. Now that you have some options, you'll want to go through several processes to determine if they truly make the cut.

Little girl hugs mother during day care interview

Conducting interviews

You need to interview your babysitters. Unless you have known them for years, you'll want to sit down and spend some time speaking with them one-on-one. Babysitter interviews can be uncomfortable for both parties, but you must get your questions asked. Come prepared with a list of questions that you have thought out beforehand. Allow the sitters time to ask questions of you as well.

Check All References

If you interview a babysitter and think they could very well be the answer to your childcare prayers, the next thing you need to do is perform a background check. Ask for several reliable references from potential babysitters. Make sure the references are people who can attest to the babysitter's attitude towards children, work ethic, and general demeanor. You don't want to entertain any biased references from the babysitter's parent or grandma.

Are They Certified?

Know what certifications your babysitter has. Are they CPR trained? Have they taken babysitting safety courses through the community? Do they attend college in the fields of child development, education, or otherwise? It is good to ask potential sitters about certifications, and if they are crucial to you, suggest they get those certifications. You may consider offering to pay for them.

Things to Look for in a Babysitter

Everyone is going to look for different qualities and qualifications in a potential babysitter. Decide what is important to you and your family and choose a sitter that flows with your needs and values.

What Is Their Availability?

Even if you have the most wonderful Mary Poppins lined up to care for your family, the arrangement will fall to pieces if your schedules don't align. Before you fall head over heels for your sitter, make sure they can commit to the times and days you have in mind.

Do Your Values Align?

What do you value in your family life? Are you all about creativity, projects, and art, or educational and academically based activities? Do you prefer the sitter take your kids out into the big, wide world and explore, or stay home safe and sound? Choose a babysitter who shares some of your values and ideals.

How Are They With Your Kids?

The final hurdle you'll want to jump through with your possible babysitter is a meet and greet with the kids. Set up a time for the sitter to meet and engage with your kids. Do they hit it off? Are there any red flags to pay closer attention to? What kind of vibe do you get when watching the sitter spend time with the kids? How did the kids feel about the meeting? A meet and greet gives you a general sense of how the parties will mesh.

Average Cost of Hiring a Babysitter

Quality childcare doesn't come cheap (unless you have Grandma watching your kids, you lucky duck!) According to Sittercity.com data, the going rate for a sitter is about $17.50 per hour. What you pay your sitter can be influenced by a plethora of factors, including:

  • How many children you leave in the sitter's care
  • The age of the kids (an infant requires more time, attention, and work than an eleven year-old who prefers to play on the iPad all day long)
  • If the sitter has lots of credentials and certifications (if so, expect to pay more)
  • If the sitter is taking on more duties than childcare (you will want to pay extra for those as well)
  • Travel expenses: will your sitter have to travel long distances to your home?

It is good to discuss payment before the actual babysitting job, so everyone is on the same page. Also, know how your sitter prefers to be paid. Does cash or check work best, or a direct deposit into an app like Paypal or Venmo?

Hiring Child Care Is a Major Family Decision

When finding and deciding on a babysitter, put the time into the choice. Even if you're finding yourself in a childcare crunch, spend the time to make sure you are hiring the best person for the job. Knowing you are putting your kids in the absolute best possible care is something that you will never regret.

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