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What to Ask Before Hiring a Babysitter

Hiring someone to watch over your children is a big decision, and not one to enter into without doing some investigation first, especially if the one you're hiring isn't someone you know well already. We've all heard the horror stories of abusive caregivers, but far more frequent than these are incompetent or neglectful ones. Taking care of children in a way that will keep them relatively content and healthy takes the right combination of skill and temperament.

Obvious questions to ask are the ones you would ask of someone interviewing for any job. What experience do they have as babysitters? Is that experience ongoing? Do they have references you can contact? What training do they have, especially including CPR courses and actual babysitting courses? Is there any health condition that might become an obstacle (such as pet allergies if you have pets, for example)? If you have stairs, are they readily able to climb them? What is their philosophy toward the job, and why do they want to be a babysitter in the first place? Do they have any nearby emergency contacts? What are they expecting in terms of compensation? What hours are they available, and are those hours flexible? Are they up to date with their immunizations?

... when it comes to your children, you want to be sure you get the person who's really right for the job.  

Other questions are more specific to the particular job of caring for children, and specifically, your children. If they have experience, is it with children of a similar age to yours? What ages of children do they most enjoy working with? What sorts of activities do they plan to offer for your children? How will the babysitter handle arguments or separation anxiety? How do they plan to handle disobedience or bad behavior? What do they know about food preparation? What sorts of situations do they consider parental intervention necessary for? Are they comfortable staying in your home for extended periods of time, and after dark?

If your children are infants or toddlers, specialized questions need to be asked. If you still have a baby in diapers, do they know how to change them, and are they willing? Do they know how to feed a baby or toddler? Do they know how to help a baby or toddler who's choking? Do they know the specialized CPR for infants? Do they know how to administer medicines for very young children? Does the prospective babysitter know how to prepare food specifically for infants and toddlers (no uncut grapes, for instance)?

This may seem like a lot of questions, but when it comes to your children, you want to be sure you get the person who's really right for the job. It may well happen that you can't find the perfect babysitter right away, but you should at least be able to screen for those traits you consider essential. Don't take these questions as the totality of what you might ask, either. Your specific situation may call for specialized questions, and if their responses to any of your questions suggest new questions to you, don't hesitate to ask.

The Daily Bang