How to find and use a babysitter

When hiring a babysitter, try to find one your child will like, and use that sitter whenever possible. Getting recommendations Neighboring mothers of small children are often the best source of information on local babysitters whom they have found satisfactory. You can also find teenagers who baby-sit by contacting your local high school.

Children 12 or 13 years old often make diligent, enthusiastic sitters when you go out for short periods of time and will be nearby and available by telephone. If you have a small baby or will be away overnight, hire an experienced adult who will be able to deal with any emergency that may arise. Again, ask neighbors.

You can locate professional full time sitters through advertisements in your local newspaper or through sitter agencies listed in the yellow pages of your phone book. If you find a sitter through an advertisement, ask for at least two references and check each reference carefully. If you use an agency, make sure it is a reputable one. A sitter from an agency is usually costly because of the agency’s fee.

Interview prospective sitters and introduce them to your children. Watch how the sitter talks to the children and how the children react to the sitter. Ask about the sitter’s experience and what age group he or she is accustomed to handling. Discuss how to deal with such emergencies as choking, fire, falls, and accidental poisoning. Use only a sitter who seems perfectly capable of looking after your children in any emergency. What to tell a sitter The first time you use a babysitter, have the sitter come early to observe your children’s normal activities. In this way both sitter and children will be comfortable with one another and you can leave with an easier mind.

Tell the sitter what time you will be back and where you can be reached in an emergency. Also, specify what foods and beverages the children may have and whether or not they may watch television or play the stereo. Write down your instructions so that the sitter can refer to them. Leave telephone numbers-police, fire department, doctor, neighbors who can help in an emergency-near the phone.