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19 Questions to Ask a New Babysitter

Photograph by Twenty20

Hiring a new babysitter is no small task and not something you can do nonchalantly. I mean, you don't want just anyone watching your kids; you want someone who is trustworthy, responsible and deserving of being left alone with a child. A great way to get a sense of whether a babysitter is a good fit for your family is to have a face-to-face-interview with them and ask the following basic (and not-so-basic) questions.

Basic questions:

Name, phone, address, email and age. The age question is more important if you are hiring a teen, as opposed to someone who is clearly over the age of 21.

Availability. Even if you fall in love with a person, they can't help you if they aren't available when you need them.

Rates. Cover rates right off the bat so it's clear to you if you can afford them and it's clear to them what they would get paid.

References. If you have not already gotten references, now is the time to do so.

First aid and CPR training. If they do not have first aid and CPR training for infants and children, would they be willing to get it?

Background check. Are they comfortable with a background check? You probably wouldn't ask this question of a teen who is babysitting for a few hours, but it's a good question to ask adults. Even if you don't intend on getting a background check, their response could either put you at ease or raise a red flag.

Experience. What is their experience with providing childcare? What ages are they the most comfortable with?

Not-so-basic questions:

    What is their comfort level with meal preparation? Can they make meals if you supply the ingredients, or will you have to leave meals set up in advance? Don't assume everyone knows how to cook or even use a microwave.

      What activities would they plan on any given day? Obviously, you don't want them to say they will sit your kid down in front of the TV all day. It's nice to know if they have go-to activities like going to the library or the park, or doing crafts.

        How do they discipline children? You need to know if the way they plan on discipling your child gels with you—and if it doesn't, now is the time to ask if they are willing to discipline the way you would like them to.

          Do they have any dietary restrictions or health issues? It's good to know what kind of food you can have on hand for them and also know of any health issues that might affect the way they care for your child. If someone can't lift more than five pounds, they might not be well-suited to care for a baby or toddler.

            Can they do overnight care? It's good to know in case you ever need that option.

              Have they ever gone through an emergency situation while caring for a child? If so, how did they handle it? If they haven't, give them an emergency scenario and ask how they would handle it.

                How will they be commuting? Do they have a driver's license? Can you see it? Are they comfortable driving your children around if you want them to do that? If they don't have a license, how will they get to your home? Will they need a ride to and from? If you have kids still in carseats, are they familiar with using carseats?

                  Are they willing to abide by these rules? This is where you would list your particular childcare rules. If you don't want them posting pictures of your child on social media, if you don't want them feeding your kid junk food, if you want them to put your child to bed at a certain time, and so on.

                  Bonus round in case the interview is going great and you want to take it a step further:

                  • Do they have any questions for you? Be open and candid when answering; they're interviewing you too.
                  • What can you do to set them up for success? What kinds of things would they like to have available to make their job easier?
                  • When can they start?
                  • How long of a commitment can they make? This is important if you are looking for a long-term sitter. What days are they not available? Think holidays and special events, so you know ahead of time.

                  Having a list of questions ready to go is a great way to ensure that you cover all topics that are of importance to you when you interview a potential babysitter. Of course, you can deviate from the script and ask anything that comes to mind that isn't on your list, but the list is a good jumping-off point to make sure you don't forget to ask all the important questions.

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