It can be difficult to find a babysitter you’re comfortable using. When you leave your child for an afternoon or evening, you want to know that he’ll be happy and safe.
Yet it’s hard to tell from a quick conversation or a few minutes’ observation whether a sitter will be responsible. When parents can’t turn to their parents or relatives for babysitting help, the best way to select a sitter is to ask for recommendations, get to know the sitter, and monitor carefully the way she performs the job.
To find potential sitters, ask friends, neighbors, relatives, and co-workers. You can also ask local high school teachers or counselors for suggestions. Good sources of names are sitters who may be too busy to work for you but who can pass on names of friends. Whatever your source for babysitters, get suggestions from people you trust. Also, as you seek referrals, keep in mind the ages of babysitters.
After you’ve contacted a potential sitter, invite her to your home so you can observe her with your child. Ask questions about her activities, schoolwork, and friends. She’ll be pleased that you take an interest in her, and from her responses you’ll get to know what she’s like. Watch as she interacts with your child. Is she friendly, playful, nurturing? How does your child respond to her?
One father was delighted when the girl he was interviewing spontaneously took out her keys and jiggled them in front of his whimpering eighteen-month-old, calming the child.