Finding a Babysitter Doesn't Have to be Scary

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leaving baby with a sitter

photo by Punkylu78

Leaving your baby with a sitter for the first time can be stressful, especially if it's not a friend or family member. But Genevieve Thiers, the founder of Sittercity, a national online child-care service says that searching for child care these days is actually safer and more reliable than ever if you follow the right steps.

1. Know the lingo. Are you looking for a mother's helper (usually a younger sitter who comes over to tend to the kids while a parent is home), a babysitter (who comes to your house for fewer than 20 hours a week at an hourly rate) or a nanny (who spends 20 or more hours a week in your home and is paid like a full-time employee)?

2. Always ask these three important questions: "Do you know CPR, first aid, and the Heimlich maneuver?" "What is your experience?" and "What are your theories on discipline?"

3. Think about age. Older sitters (post-high school) often have more experience and usually can drive, however they also tend to charge more. Younger sitters may have more energy and engage your kids in more play. College-age sitters tend to be available on weekends.

4. Know the going rate. In general you should expect to pay $10-$14 an hour, depending on the sitter's age and experience, the number of children she will be watching and your proximity to a big city.

5. Screen them. Always ask for references and always check them out. You can use LexisNexis, Backgroundchecks.com, or just Google "background check" to do a state or national background check, which usually cost between $10 and $80. All the sitters listed on Sittercity have already been put through a national background check.

Have you left your baby with a sitter yet? How did you choose him or her? How did it go?

child care