Choosing a babysitter

Choosing a babysitter

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 babysitter.

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.

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 they take time to relax and calm down before caring for your baby.

Ask friends, neighbors, co-workers, teachers, clergy or other adults you trust for recommendations. Remember, a baby sitter doesn't have to be a teenager. 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 their name and number.
  • Ask if the sitter has family close by in case of emergency. (This may be important if they don'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 they have 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 them, 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.

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.

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education, Guide for the Care of Children: Ages Birth to 5, sixth edition, ped-ah-91554
First Published: 02/01/2010
Last Reviewed: 11/16/2022