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Health & Parenting

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Choosing a Baby Sitter You Can Count on

Choosing a Baby Sitter

Interview with a Sitter continued...

Hirschfield lists three issues parents should discuss with candidates:

  • In case of emergency. What would the baby sitter do should there be a fire, injury or trauma? Is the person skilled at/confident with administering first aid?
  • Discipline. How would the person discipline a child? Is there an understanding about what a sitter can and cannot do with a child (e.g. a no-spanking policy)?
  • Backup. Does the baby sitter have parents, friends or neighbors to call for assistance?

If you feel confident that this person meets your criteria, you can then have them meet your child so you can observe the "connection" between the two.

Checking Background

Whether you do this before or after the interview, it's critical that you check to see how much baby-sitting experience a candidate has. Some baby sitters may have completed training courses; others might have experience with their own brothers and sisters. Check the sitter's references before hiring. Ask past employers if the person is dependable, what age children were cared for and how children got along with the baby sitter.

If you have an infant, confirm that the candidate knows the proper procedures for feeding/burping, bathing, sleeping and playing. Because there are different qualifications needed to care for a 6-month-old versus a 6-year-old, make sure to address age-specific issues.

When You Find the Right Sitter

Once you've settled on someone you're comfortable with, you need to iron out certain details:

  • Pay -- Although there is no standard wage for baby sitters, keep in mind that minimum wage is five dollars and seventy-five cents per hour. It is typical to pay anywhere between five and ten dollars an hour, depending on the area of the country you live in and the amount of experience your sitter has. You may want to pay a sitter with a car a higher wage than one who requires a pick-up and drop off.
  • Make a list -- Before the baby sitter arrives, make a list of child care information. The list should include routines your child relies upon, such as a story before bedtime; pet care information; house rules; contact names and numbers in case of an emergency; where you can be reached and what time you will be home.
  • Follow-up -- The best comments on the baby sitter's performance come from your children. If your children are old enough to talk, ask what they did, if they enjoyed their time with the baby sitter and if they want the sitter to come again.

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