Should you trust a stranger with your kids? 4 babysitting FAQs
The process to find a babysitter can be a difficult one if you have no friends or family nearby. Alix McNulty, an injury prevention coordinator at Advocate Children’s Hospital, answers some frequently asked questions parents often have when choosing someone they trust to care for their children.
1. Where should a parent look for potential babysitters?
Ask for recommendations from people you know well and trust and look at online babysitting referral services. When using babysitter referral websites, it is important that you do not rely solely on the website for screening. Make sure that you ask for referrals and have face-to-face time with a potential candidate.
2. Should my children meet the sitter before I officially hire him or her?
Yes! A trial run is a great way to introduce a new caregiver to your child. This will help you assess their ability to engage and interact with your child, and it will also help your child feel more comfortable in getting to know their potential new babysitter and establish trust.
3. What questions should I ask of the potential babysitter?
Ask questions that can help assess the caregiver’s level of comfort and experience, such as:
- Describe your previous babysitting experience. Have you ever cared for children in the same age group as my child?
- How comfortable are you with changing diapers or helping with potty-training? Can you assist with homework? (if age appropriate)
You will also want to find out their availability and other priorities. Often, college students will babysit to make extra money, but no parent wants to see their babysitter cramming for an upcoming test rather than tending to their child’s needs. Lastly, it is wise to ask a potential caregiver if they have done any CPR or first-aid training and if they are willing to submit to a background check.
4. What information should you share with the sitter?
Communicate if your child has any medical issues and provide instructions on what they would need to do if something occurs. To help the caregiver engage with or choose enjoyable activities for the child, let them know your child’s interests and family hobbies.
McNulty cautions that screening a new babysitter candidate takes time and not to rush into choosing a person.
“Above all, trust your gut. If something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t. This person has been charged with taking care of your child’s life in your absence. Make sure you feel comfortable with them and can establish an appropriate level of trust.”
About the Author
Julie Nakis, health enews contributor, is manager of public affairs at Advocate Children's Hospital. She earned her BA in communications from the University of Iowa – Go Hawkeyes! In her free time, she enjoys spending time with friends and family, exploring the city and cheering on the Chicago Cubs and Blackhawks.