Finding a qualified babysitter takes time and effort. But your reward is knowing that your child is in capable hands. You'll want to find someone who is mature and friendly, has common sense, and is genuinely fond of children.
The recommendations of people you know and trust are your best bet for finding a reliable and capable babysitter. If you're new to the area and don't know how to find a sitter:
Your neighbors or coworkers might have recommendations.
Ask at your place of worship.
See if staff in your pediatrician's office has suggestions.
Check with your local YMCA, community hospital, or American Red Cross chapter for a list of babysitters. Many will have completed a babysitting safety and infant and child CPR courses.
If your child is in a daycare or after-school care program, ask staff members if they babysit or have recommendations.
Interviewing sitters and checking their references will help you narrow down your choices. Prepare a list of questions to ask ahead of time.
Teach kids how to use 911 to call for help, so that if something happens to your babysitter, they know what to do.
Let your babysitter know your expectations before you leave. If you'd prefer that the sitter not leave the house with your child, make that clear. If the babysitter drives, ask about their driving experience, and let them know the rules about driving your kids. If visitors are off-limits, discuss those restrictions.
Make sure the sitter knows these safety rules:
Don't give your child any medicine without your specific instruction.
Don't leave kids alone in the house or yard, even for a minute.
Don't leave kids unattended near water. Infants and small children can drown in only a few inches of water, even in a bucket or toilet.
If you have kids under 4 years old, the babysitter should know these rules:
Don't feed them popcorn, nuts, hard candy, raw carrots, or any hard, smooth foods that can block the windpipe and cause choking.
Don't serve foods such as hot dogs or grapes whole. They should be chopped into very small pieces, and the skin removed from hot dogs.
Don't let kids play with plastic bags, latex balloons, coins, or other small objects that they could choke on.
Don't let kids play near stairs, windows, stoves, or electrical outlets.
After you return, ask your kids if they enjoyed the sitter's visit. When you find a reliable sitter they like, you're sure to have a more relaxing and enjoyable time away from home.