Leaving your child with someone other than a family member or close friend can be a scary thought for parents, but there may be a time when you need a babysitter to keep an eye on your child when you've got something else to do. With the weight of the responsibilities required, you may find it hard to find someone that you trust to do this. Making a list of requirements before you begin the search process can make it easier to find the right person and help you feel confident in your choice.
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Age and Maturity
It's important that your babysitter be old enough to handle any surprises that may occur. Babysitters should be at least 14 years old, recommends the University of Illinois Extension Service. If you're considering a younger babysitter, make sure that she is legally old enough to stay home alone. Regardless of age, it's important that the babysitter you choose is mature enough to take direction from you and care for your child. Explain the house rules for both the babysitter and the child. Let the babysitter know if he is allowed to use the phone or have guests over, what time your child should go to bed, what snacks are available and any other rules you have. After having a discussion about rules, you should feel confident that the babysitter will abide by them.
Babysitter or Safety Training
A babysitter should have basic first-aid knowledge, know how to perform the Heimlich maneuver and know CPR. The Red Cross offers babysitter training in many communities. Whether the babysitter received training through the Red Cross, a school program or with some other group, make sure that she knows what to do in the case of an emergency.
Choose a babysitter that has experience babysitting children roughly the same age as your child. A babysitter with experience watching preschool age children may not be capable of handling an infant, while a babysitter that is capable of holding, feeding and caring for an infant may not understand the importance of watching a toddler constantly. If you're considering a babysitter that doesn't have experience, consider hiring her as a mother's helper for awhile first. A mother's helper stays in the home and watches the child while you're there. This gives you the opportunity to observe the babysitter and child interact and allows you to decide if the babysitter seems competent.
Importance of References
When searching for a reliable and trustworthy babysitter, it's important that you ask for references. Getting recommendations from family or friends can also be a helpful way of finding a good babysitter. You could even ask at your pediatrician's office or your local school, suggests Kids Health. During the interview process, request references from each babysitter and contact these families after the interview to inquire about their experience with your potential sitters.