You take great care of your kids, so when you hire someone to watch them, you expect them to do the same. Entrusting your children to a babysitter’s care means trusting them to, at the very least, keeping them safe. Sure, you hope all of your babysitters are as magical as Mary Poppins. But even if they’re not, they should be able to keep your kids safe, happy, and healthy. Outlining your expectations for safety while you’re gone can go a long way in ensuring your kids are safe and protected before you’re ready to leave them solo. Here’s how to make sure you choose a babysitter that is experienced, professional, and great for your kids.
Choosing a Sitter
There are so many resources available to help you choose a qualified babysitter. Gone are the days when hiring a neighborhood sitter was your only option. Today, you can access babysitter databases, reviews, and research to make sure your kids stay safe while you’re away.
At the very least, run a Google search on your potential babysitter’s name to look for bad reviews or any warning signs. You should always run his or her name on your state’s sex offender registry as well. If an individual is over the age of 18, you might also consider a background check, particularly if you’re hiring a long-term caregiver who will be spending a great deal of time with your child.
It’s also a good idea to ask for references from a potential sitter. Asking other families what they liked and disliked about a sitter can give you a better idea on how they will fit with yours.
The more experience your babysitter has, the better. But experience isn’t the only qualification to look for when choosing a caregiver. A babysitter that is trained in emergency situations is better equipped to help your kids in case of emergency, so ask if he or she has undergone any training. First aid and CPR qualifications can give you peace of mind that your sitter will know how to react in a health emergency.
Make sure your babysitter knows your family protocol in keeping kids safe by outlining what to do for eating, sleeping, and playing. A babysitter should know how to properly put an infant on its back to sleep and to watch for potential choking hazards in and around the crib and during playtime. Talk about what types and sizes of foods are acceptable for snacks and meals, and go over any allergies your kids might have.
If your kids get sick, talk to your caregiver about monitoring temperature and when to contact you or a healthcare professional. It might help to type out your rules and outlines and hang it as a guide where your caregiver can refer to it as needed.
In Case of Emergency
Planning for emergencies helps keep your kids safe, period. By giving your babysitter the right tools to react in case of an emergency, you ensure your children get the help they need as quickly as possible. Make sure your babysitter has access to phone numbers to call if he or she needs help. While 911 is a start, there should be numbers for poison control, local dispatch, and an emergency contact number for someone who can help if you’re not available, like a family member or neighbor.
Give your babysitter a tour of your home and point out potential problem areas. It’s also a good idea to head outside and familiarize your sitter with your yard and neighborhood. Make sure to also leave a note with your address for easy access in case your sitter needs to call emergency services and direct them to your house.
You can’t plan for every variable when you leave your children with a babysitter, but you can do your due diligence. Choosing the right caregiver and then walking them through your expectations sets a tone for your relationship together. You don’t need a Mary Poppins, you just need the right babysitter who cares. A professional and experienced caregiver will know how to react quickly to keep your kids safe and protected — with or without the catchy songs.