Tips for Finding a Great Babysitter

Planning an evening out and in search of a sitter to watch your kids? Here's what to keep in mind

Tips for Finding a Great BabysitterWhere to find a sitter

  • Ask for referrals from people you know (friends, colleagues, neighbours).
  • If your child is in a daycare setting, you might discover some of the providers also babysit during the evening to supplement their income. However, be prepared to pay a little more than your neighbourhood teen would charge.
  • Use the power of the Internet. Some sites connect parents (usually for a fee) with college/university-aged babysitters in their area.

Your sitter needs to know

  • How you can be reached.
  • Health information, including where the inhaler is for an asthmatic child or the EpiPen for one with allergies.
  • Which neighbour can help in an emergency, or who has an extra key to the house.
  • How to lock the doors.
  • Where you keep a flashlight, first aid kit and fire extinguisher.
  • Escape route (and outdoor meeting spot) in case of fire.
  • Instructions about pets.

Sitter Prep

  • Negotiate the fee up front, to eliminate any awkwardness at the end of the evening.
  • Explain how the baby monitor or any child-safety features (such as a baby gate) work. Plus a quick run-through
    of the DVD player and where you keep your child’s favourite DVD, if she will be watching one.
  • Write down your child’s bedtime routine including where to find his PJs and his can’t-sleep-without-it stuffed toy.
  • Even if your sitter has sat once before, let her know of any new developments with your child, including potty training or being able to go to up and down the stairs by himself.
  • Let her know where to find any snacks, and if you’ve ordered in food, leave money (including tip).
  • Go over ground rules with your sitter about having friends over.
  • Make arrangements to get the sitter home — whether your spouse or partner will be driving her or her parents will be picking her up.

Pay up

Depending on where you live, and the age/experience of your sitter, babysitters charge $5 to $15 an hour. Have two kids or more? Expect to pay at least $10 an hour.

How do you keep the sitter happy?

“We try to have her favourite snacks, and I think we pay her a little too well!”
Erin Goffin, mom of Riley, 6 and Saide, 3

“While we were out, our daughter fell and split a lip. To top it off, my wife had forgotten to turn on her cellphone. Well, the sitter did great. I told her that my wife and I would only leave our girls in responsible, safe hands and her actions had proved she was both. She teared up.”
Ken Davis, dad of Alexandra, 5, and Makeda, 2

“We always leave the house organized and the kids happy to make their job easier. We also treat them with the same respect that we want them to treat our children with. We pay well, and always give them little gifts around the holiday season.”
Darlene Quartermain, mom of Skylar, 9, Bethany, 8, and Kelsey, 5

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