Choosing a baby sitter

You've made many important decisions including choices about a birth plan, child care and health care providers. There's another important decision now that your family is home: choosing a baby sitter.

You and your partner need time alone. It's important for you two to have regular "dates" and enjoy time together that doesn't involve feeding, diapers or laundry.

If you don't have family members nearby who can watch your baby, you can still find a babysitter.

Ask friends, neighbors, co-workers, teachers, clergy or other adults you trust for recommendations. Remember, a baby sitter doesn't have to be a teenage girl. You may want to consider searching senior centers or colleges for capable or qualified sitters.

Once you find a candidate or two, there are some important details to share and questions to ask.

  • Tell the sitter where you found his or her name and number.
  • Ask if the sitter has family close by in case of emergency. (This may be important if he or she doesn't have a driver's license.)
  • Ask for a list of references or previous experience with babies. Don't be embarrassed or afraid to ask. (You can't have an enjoyable afternoon or evening out if you're worried about the sitter.)
  • Ask if he or she has taken CPR, first aid or baby sitting classes through the Red Cross or an area hospital.
  • Talk with the sitter about your expectations and family rules about visitors; phone, Internet and TV use; your baby's bedtime routine.
  • Have the sitter come over for a visit to meet your family. If the sitter has a parent who wants to visit and meet you, welcome him or her, too.
  • Ask if the sitter has any experience with babies who have special needs (if it applies).
  • Ask about the hourly fee.

Once you are ready to go out, be sure to leave your sitter detailed information about:

  • where you are going and a phone number or pager number where you can be reached
  • when you are coming home
  • a name and number of someone to call in case you cannot be reached
  • emergency numbers (include your house address, telephone number and doctor's number)
  • your insurance information (leave a spare insurance card, if you have one)
  • your baby's feeding, diaper and sleeping schedule (include instructions for warming pre-pumped breastmilk or preparing formula)
  • any special health care concerns, issues or medicine needs or schedule(s)

Have your sitter call or text you if your baby cannot be soothed.

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Guide for the Care of Children: Ages Birth to 5 Years Old, fifth edition. To avoid awkward sentences, instead of referring to your child as "he/she" or "him/her," this guide will alternate between "he" or "she" and "him" or "her."
Reviewed By: Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts, including the Pediatric Department of Allina Health Coon Rapids Clinic
First Published: 02/01/2010
Last Reviewed: 01/01/2016

No one should ever hold a baby while feeling angry, frustrated or upset. Make sure your sitter knows about and understands shaken baby syndrome. Stress the importance that he or she take time to relax and calm down before caring for your baby.
Did you know?
Regular dates with your partner can help regain your intimacy and keep you connected as a couple. Your baby may also enjoy a new voice and face for a couple of hours.