Need a New Sitter? How to Find a Child Caregiver You’ll Love
You want a person who is mature, reliable and responsible; gets along with your kiddo; is well-versed in first aid and CPR; respects your rules; has endless amounts of patience; and won’t freak out during an emergency.
Finding someone you trust to take care of your child can be a slow process filled with plenty of trial and error. You want a person who is mature, reliable and responsible; gets along with your kiddo; is well-versed in first aid and CPR; respects your rules; has endless amounts of patience; and won’t freak out during an emergency. This can be a tall order for sure, which is why it pays to start looking for one sooner rather than later, says Donna Willis-Brown, M.S.N., R.N., a program support specialist with Safe Sitter. Here, she offers tips on how to find the right caregiver for your family.
1 - Get recommendations
For many parents, the search for a great babysitter begins with recommendations from family, friends and neighbors. Word of mouth is a powerful and popular way to create a short list of candidates with a proven track record. Online services can also be a great resource. Many will vet prospective caregivers, provide references, or even offer to perform background checks.
2 - Ask the right questions
Whether conducted on the phone or in person, the interview is your chance to gauge a potential caregiver’s temperament, personality, and caregiving style. Subjects to cover may include:
* Previous babysitting experience. This includes all of the ages of the children they have ever cared for.
* Whether they have had any first aid training and know rescue skills like the Heimlich maneuver for choking infants and children.
* How they would handle various “what if” scenarios. For example, if you have a toddler, you might ask about a child who cries when the parents leave, who refuses to go to bed, or who has a minor medical emergency, such as a nosebleed. Responses will give you a feel for the sitter’s style.
* Your expectations. This includes your pet peeves (like leaving dirty dishes in the sink) or restrictions, (like limiting kids to one TV show per day).
* Basic facts about your family. Info such as how many kids you have and how old they are; any special problems, allergies or issues; any pets; and your family’s daily routines.
* The sitter’s pay rate and availability.
* References (make sure you contact them).
3 - Schedule an in-home visit
Think you found your frontrunner? The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests inviting them to visit with your child for an hour or two in your home while you are there. This gives you a chance to observe the caregiver interacting with your child. It can also be helpful to ask your kiddo for their opinion, if they’re old enough to offer one. But above all, Willis-Brown says, “trust your instincts to find the perfect match.”
4 - Help day one go smoothly
Even if you choose the perfect caregiver, it may take your child a little time before they feel comfortable with them. Some organizations, like Safe Sitter, train caregivers on how to put children at ease right away, but there are also measures you and the sitter can take to help with the transition. “For example, when sitting with preschoolers, you could give a special blanket or stuffed animal, suggest a favorite game or activity or tell a short happy story using the child’s name,” Willis-Brown suggests.
Also be sure to write down and clearly post important information, such as bedtimes/naptimes; snack, meals and toiling routines for each child; information about allergies and medications, including how to administer them; your and your partner’s phone numbers; the phone number and name of a back-up adult; and phone numbers for your pediatrician, an emergency service, like 911, and the poison control center.
-- By Bonnie Vengrow