How did you find a baby-sitter you can trust?

Updated Oct 12 2015
Offbeat Home & Life runs these advice questions as an opportunity for our readers to share personal experiences and anecdotes. Readers are responsible for doing their own research before following any advice given here... or anywhere else on the web, for that matter.
Photo by Jamiesrabbits, used under Creative Commons license.
I have been working more lately and as a result we have had to call on friends and family to help with the kids. Luckily we have a very tight support group around us and usually getting help isn't too hard. It's usually more reasonable to send the children to their grandparents' and let them pass the kids between the two houses.

Every so often this isn't an option — and I'm totally frazzled about being able to trust a baby-sitter I've never met. How did you find a baby-sitter you can trust? — Sarah

Stephanie says…

We've been lucky — friends and family that are in line with our parenting practices have always been the people who have watched our son so far. If that's not an option, I have friends who use Care.com. It works in two ways: people who want to apply to be caregivers can create accounts, and people seeking care providers can sign up for a free account to peruse their local options. Care providers can opt to pay $15 for a background check, which can put your mind at ease. If you go this route, I recommend meeting with the potential caregiver at least once before he or she is set to come over — that way you can see how you really feel about him or her.

Another option is to look for certified baby-sitters in your city (for example, the city I live in has Rocket City Sitters). Sitters are usually required to be up-to-date in their First Aid and Child CPR certification, have three to five references, and pass a criminal background check.

Regardless of how you find someone, it's definitely important to have a child-care provider you trust.

  1. As a babysitter that started out in my city not personally knowing any families, I have used Care.com to find families on more than one occasion.

    In my experience, the best way to get a sitter is through word of mouth .. people that your friends already trust with their kids. The families that I met through care.com have recommended me to their friends and that is how I started my network of families.

    I know it is scary finding someone that you can trust with your kids. A lot of the families I work with I end up being friends with too, so I guess that helps.

  2. We are an Army family so we are constantly having to find new babysitters when we move or our sitters move. I have had success with word of mouth and by using the nursery and child development centers. After a couple of months I can pick out one or two who I feel comfortable with and then ask them.

    • We are a Navy family – sittercity.com is free for DoD personnel. We have used it everywhere we have lived and found great care providers – just thought you might be able to benefit from it! 🙂

  3. I browsed through care.com to find a sitter recently, and liked what I saw, but paying for an account in order to get the contact information for sitters wasn't an option for me. The home-daycare I'm currently using, I found through calling around to some local churches. This made me feel better, knowing that the people I'm leaving my daughter with have beliefs that line up with mine. It made me feel more comfortable leaving her with them, even though I hardly knew them. Its working out very well so far!

  4. I'm a nanny with a profile on care.com and they ask you toprovide references, experience and qualifications.
    When families post new special needs jobs in my area I get emails to alert me. So families can either search through profiles or post an advert and wait for responses.

    Sittercity.com offers a similar service

  5. It's great when a family member/friend/accquaintance can refer someone they've used for a lengthy amount of time. I was a nervous wreck thinking about having to leave my child in someone else's care, but we lucked out and got an outstanding referral. And our little girl LOVES her, I think that's the some of the best proof you can get that your child is in good hands.

  6. We needed a sitter for our wedding day, 500 miles away from home. We found a sitter on sittercity.com, chated with her on Skype, and met her in person a couple weeks before the wedding. It worked out great, and we plan to use the site again soon to find a regular babysitter for date nights.

  7. I work as a nanny for a wonderful family who connected with me through care.com. It has been an amazing experience, for both of us. I was able to show them how qualified I was on the website. I am now watching a two year old and 3 month old 3 days a week.

  8. Good timing on this one…I just found out that my awesome sitter was inviting her boyfriend over to our house with my 1 year old! I just found a new one via Facebook just by asking. She's got great credentials and a good recommendation.

  9. We had a lot of luck (in Canada) with a site called http://www.canadiannanny.ca/ We were able to search for sitters with twin experience who lived in our area and interviewed our 3 regulars before hiring them on. It costs money for a membership, but our sitters have a lot of childcare experience and one of them is a student in early childhood education. The first time or two we use a new sitter we don't go far and make it a short evening. By researching, thoroughly interviewing and checking references we have some great people who we can count on who genuinely care about our kids.

  10. I always found sitters from my church. I had a few for a while who were older siblings in a family of many children (8) so I knew that they would be experienced with my kids at a relatively younger age. My cut off is around 12 for being able to baby sit. Since they were from my church, I knew they would be trust worthy and I knew their parents. A few of them happened to live a couple blocks away, so I knew if anything happened where they needed more expertise, then their mom was not far away. Also, they were lots cheaper than anything you'd find on care.com.

  11. I thinking I'm going to give care.com a shot and see how that goes. I like that nannies responded =] I guess its all about persistance and trusting someone to be good to my kids when I'm not there. Thanks!

  12. I hired a girl that I work with. They have to be finger printed before hired in our office. Plus she was an au pair for 6 months in Spain for 3 small children and she has a small Sunday school class at her church. My daughter loves her and she is so great with her.

  13. I'm a nanny for two AWESOME families (and have worked for two others in the past). All of my jobs have been acquired through word-of-mouth, and I totally recommend that. Not only do you get a recommendation about your sitter/nanny, but s/he gets an implied (or actual!) recommendation about YOU. Good luck!

  14. My former city had a great service that was basically speed dating for baby sitters. I cannot for the life of me remember what it was called, but my roommate found sitting jobs through it. Basically, parents would pay to attend, and baby sitters went for free. You'd go from person to person for a mini interview just like in speed dating. All initial contact was then done through the service.

    It's definitely worth a google.

  15. I do a lot of networking through places like our local twins club, fellow preschool parents, other child care providers I already know, friends who aren't parents but know people who babysit, friends with adolescent kids, etc. The parent groups are a big resource in particular.

  16. I am a nanny… for a woman I'd never met… before she responded to my ad online. My ad was on a website called Care.com, where I paid to have a background check on my profile, and I granted her access to see that I had no negative marks on my record (save for the 2 car accidents, but I won't be driving her kids).

    Another great website you might check out is sitter.com. I recommend only interviewing day care providers or nannies who have background checks on their profiles, and can provide you access to them.

    I would rely on these websites, myself, before hiring a neighbor's kid or a friend of a friend, because it's a little awkward to ask for a background check on someone you know… but you never know what skeletons they may have in their closet. This ensures that you have background checks on anyone who would be supervising your kids.

  17. My wife is currently a nanny and I was a nanny for about a year, and we both found our jobs through sittercity.com. We also signed up for care.com accounts, but we had A LOT more luck with sittercity. I know a lot of parents can't afford paying a website to find a babysitter, but if you can I know a lot of people who have found babysitters through these websites. It was not uncommon to be playing at the park and run across other nannies who found their jobs this way.

    Word of mouth is also amazing. After we both got established in this area, our moms started passing our names around to their friends. So definitely check with any of your friends who have children. My wife's nannying position is for twins, and the mom is a member of a multiples group in the area, and she's sent out our information to the group, so these types of groups can also be really helpful in finding childcare.

    I've also seen flyers in the education department at my university for families seeking childcare, so that's also an option to consider. Good luck!

    • I work as a nanny/babysitter and have accounts on both Care.com and Sittercity.com

      I recently moved to Houston, Texas and care.com seems more popular here. In Michigan sittercity.com was far more popular! So it varies city by city.

  18. Hello,
    If anyone is looking for care in Canada I was a nanny on canadiannanny.ca. It is a good site provided you ask for references and a police check. (Anyone looking specifically in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada can try ottawababyrespite.com/Claire)

  19. As a nanny, babysitter, special needs caregiver and future Montessori Educator, I know how nervous parents can be about leaving someone new with their child. Here's my advice:

    -Treat the job you are offering just like a job. Ask for resumes and references. Have prepared questions that you want to ask them during the interview (especially on topics that you are sensitive about and parenting choices that you want continued). Let them know 'the ropes'. Tell them about your child, their likes and dislikes, any special needs, and typical schedules. Outline behavior problems and responses you typically use, what works and what doesn't. Make sure they are comfortable with those responses;ask them what their response might be, and make sure it fits in the same line as yours.

    -Use babysitting/caregiver sites. (Care.com is awesome) Post at local colleges near the education department/look for local education institutes or early child care programs, sometimes people need extra work and or can point you in a direction.

    -Get someone who has some experience, but also someone who jives with your lifestyle choices. Include casual conversation in your interview, asking about their life and interests. This is a great way to get a feel for someone.

    -Know and communicate your expectations. This is the best way to avoid needless frustrations with a caregiver. If they know you and your children's routines and expectations, then they will be better able to step into your role as adult/guide when you leave.

  20. I use sitters from our daycare. Since you don't use a daycare, you could contact a reputable one and see if they commend any of their employees. Our daycare does random drug screens and all the employees are CPR and First Aid certified, plus they have lots of expense with a roomfull of kids so your one or my two are simple!

  21. I've been a caregiver on sittercity.com since college. It's a great service that I've found a lot of great families with that I've been able to form long-term relationships with.

  22. I've worked as an evening babysitter and a full time live-in nanny. I met most of my families through my local childcare recruiter, or through sitters.co.uk (in the UK). The agencies were really good as they required a background check from both the nannies and the families. Taking a job as a sitter is an exercise in trust for both parties – heading out for an evening at a stranger's house is daunting for the nanny as well, and I definitely felt better knowing that there was an interview process and background check on both sides.

  23. One thing I would recommend is while interviewing sitters/nannies is to have them meet your child after doing a phone interview with them. See how they interact with your child, if your child feels comfortable with them, if they speak TO your child and not AT them. Little ones are pretty good at reading people. Of course, if your child is going through the stranger anxiety phase, this may be a bit more difficult.

  24. I am probably simply adding to what those have already said, but as a nanny and childcare provider I'll leave you with this:

    My current nanny position I believe we connected through care.com where I was sustaining a profile, though before this job I had always been referred through other parents for whom I had previously worked. Look for sitters with experience and references within your child's age range and do ask them about their values to make sure they line up with yours! Meet with them beforehand, preferably in a public space, and if at all possible have the potential sitter hang out with you and the child/children for a day before the first visit. I taught babysitting classes for the Red Cross and if you are going for a younger sitter I would definitely recommend someone who has taken that class or one similar. Also CPR/first aid classes are great qualifications your sitter should have. I wish you all the luck in finding someone who matches your needs!

  25. I highly recommend using http://www.SeekingSitters.com. I have been on their babysitting team and it has been the best babysitting referral company to work through. SeekingSitters has in-house licensed private investigators that do a hands on background screening on each babysitter. Parents who use SeekingSitters know they are getting a babysitter who has gone through pre-screening qualifications, personally interviewed by the local SeekingSitters owner, background screened, verified up to date CPR and FA Certifications, and several references are diligently contacted to verify the Contract Professional Sitter's work history and experience level with children. SeekingSitters does all the work for families- families can log into their account and review sitter profiles and feedback each sitter has received from families that have used them. SeekingSitters maintains a safe babysitting community for the babysitters and families.

  26. I live in Australia and have have been a nanny & baby sitter for many families. Most of those contacts were made through word of mouth and friends of friends. However I did get a few jobs while I was at TAFE studying Childcare.
    In Australia you have to have a police check before you begin studying any form of child care and you gain a First Aid certificate with the training being focused around Childcare. Most of my fellow students had been babysitters before so they had references.

    People would contact the TAFE and have a notice put up on a notice board. I thought it was a great way to find someone affordable who was well trained. And Students always need a form of income!

    Even if you arent in Australia I would consider looking into your local educational facilities. I would also insist on references and a face to face interview.

    Hope this helps people 🙂

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