Babysitter with good qualities

13 Qualities All Good Babysitters Share

(Do You Have What It Takes?)

Are you looking to become the best possible babysitter that you can be? The first step is to identify the important qualities that make a good babysitter.

What qualities do you need to be a good babysitter? Parents look for babysitters who are responsible, dependable, trustworthy, and punctual, who show kindness and patience towards their kids and continually demonstrate creativity, playfulness, and self-confidence.

In this article, we'll look at some of the key qualities that you should have if you want to be a successful babysitter!

What Qualities Make A Great Babysitter?

Babysitting is a more complicated job than a lot of people think! There are a lot of qualities that you need as a person to make a good babysitter. The truth is that not everyone is perfectly suited for it right away. But luckily many of these qualities are things that you can learn or improve upon over time.

Here is my list of the top 13 qualities that good babysitters share:

1. Responsible and Dependable

Every parent wants a dependable babysitter. Their worst nightmare is getting all dressed up for a night away from the kids, only to have the babysitter call 30 minutes in advance to say they won't be able to make it.

Responsibility is quite an over-arching quality of a good babysitter that is displayed in everything you do. You want parents to be able to trust you, depend on you, and feel confident that you're able to responsibly take care of their kids. After all, you're the only one in charge of making sure the kids stay safe while their parents are away.

A responsible babysitter makes both children and parents feel safe. Whether you're out at the playground, or just at the house.

For me, being dependable and responsible is a characteristic of a babysitter that's more important than almost anything else. The kids you babysit might love you. But it doesn't matter if you're the best babysitter in the world if you're always canceling or showing up late.

Parents should feel like they can trust your judgment. You should have a clear idea of what kinds of activities are safe for kids, and be able to identify any potential risks where an injury could happen. A responsible babysitter won't let kids fight with tree branches, try to do a backflip or anything else that seems clearly unsafe.

2. Punctual

Punctuality is closely tied with being dependable and responsible. But punctuality specifically deals with showing up on time for your babysitting jobs.

As a good babysitter, you should respect the time of the families that you're babysitting for, and show up when you said you would arrive. It's best to even show up a bit early to discuss any specific requirements or plans for that particular day.

A punctual babysitter sticks to their word and shows up when they say they will. The life of a parent is stressful and hectic enough. Worrying about whether the babysitter is going to show up or not is one thing that parents shouldn't have to deal with.

If you ever find that you're running late, be sure to contact the family you're babysitting for to let them know as soon as possible, as well as when you expect to show up.

If you're not going to be able to work for a babysitting job that you've previously agreed to, try to give at least a week's notice if possible so that the family has time to find an alternate babysitter. Of course, emergencies happen from time to time where you may need to cancel at the last minute, but those sort of incidents should be few and far between.

Being responsible in terms of punctuality gives parents a bit of extra confidence that you'll also be responsible in other ways when watching their children.

3. Kind

Kindness is the quality of being considerate, generous, and friendly.

Being kind is a bit infectious. So if you want the children you're babysitting to be kind to you, you need to be kind to them first. As a babysitter, you are a role model to the children that you watch, and they'll look to you for how they should be behaving.

Kindness is crucial when it comes to establishing new relationships with children. Not only will they be kind to you in return, but also to other children and adults that they meet.

A kind babysitter makes children feel accepted and at ease. They don't need to worry that their sitter will criticize or judge them, and it gives them a safe space to express themselves.

Being kind doesn't just mean being nice or doing whatever it takes to make a child happy. You can be a kind person but still, set limits or boundaries and discipline children you're babysitting. In fact, disciplining kids may be easier if you're kind since they will see you as a fair person. Gentle and kind corrections to any inappropriate behavior are often more successful than harsh ones since kids can be quite sensitive.

4. Patient

Patience and the previous quality of kindness often go together hand in hand.

The importance of patience goes all the way back to the Latin expression "maxima enim, patientia virtus," meaning "patience is the greatest virtue." Today we still consider patience to be a virtue.

This is especially true if you're a babysitter dealing with a three-year-old who constantly has to ask "why"!

The ability to be patient goes a long way when it comes to being a good babysitter. You're going to need patience if you hope to build a relationship with the kids that you're put in charge of.

Being patient helps you to get children to trust you and they'll be more likely to respect you and listen in return.

Just like kids need to be reminded to be patient when they're playing a game that requires taking turns, you should remind yourself as a babysitter to be patient every once and a while. That might be something as simple as taking a deep breath whenever you find yourself starting to become frustrated.

Kids will often do what you say, but go about it in a roundabout way and take their own time. If you ask a child to put their toys away, be sure to stay patient and give them the time and space that they need to complete the task. Of course, you can give gentle reminders if they start to stray from the task, but try to avoid becoming impatient with them.

Even the most patient babysitter can struggle sometimes. Read my article on how to deal with a difficult child so you know what to do if ever you find yourself in a tricky situation.

5. Experienced

Just telling you to be more experienced is perhaps unfair. Experience is something a bit more out of your control than most of the other qualities on this list.

Parents understand that every babysitter has to start somewhere. But some babysitting jobs just require someone with more experience to provide parents with peace of mind. Especially when it comes to babysitting infants, children with disabilities, or other special circumstances.

The good news is that experience isn't just about on-the-job babysitting. If you've looked after a sibling for your own parents or taken a babysitting or First Aid course offered by the Red Cross, those are valuable experiences that can help to set you apart from other babysitters as well.

An experienced babysitter is simply better equipped to deal with any difficult or unusual situations that they come across.

Experience is most commonly linked to a babysitter's age and the number of years they've been babysitting. But other factors such as maturity level also play a part.

Are you brand new to babysitting? Check out my article on how to get started with no experience in 7 easy steps.

6. Creative and Playful

Kids love a babysitter who has a strong imagination and can help come up with all kinds of creative activities, games, and crafts. Likewise, parents want a babysitter who will create an active and fun experience for their kids, instead of just putting them down in front of the television for the entire night.

Kids love to use their imagination and play pretend. It's great for stimulating their creativity and creating an active mind, especially in younger kids who tend to have a shorter attention span. So as a babysitter you can't be afraid to get a bit silly and play along with whatever crazy idea that kids you're watching come up with. It's an important part of bonding with the children you're supervising.

When kids run out of their own ideas for games, you should be ready with some creative and fun suggestions of your own. Kids are constantly hopping from one activity to the next, so it's good to have a bunch of different activities ready to go, and to be able to think on your feet if you suddenly find you've run out of stuff to do!

Need some fun things to do while babysitting? Bookmark my list of over 200 babysitting activities on your phone then whip it out whenever you hear the words “I’m bored!”.

7. Active and Healthy

Kids are full of energy, so it's important that as a babysitter you're able to keep up!

Being babysat by their grandparents is fun once and a while. But kids generally prefer a babysitter who can run and crawl around with them.

You don't need to be an athlete, but a reasonable amount of physical fitness will help you from feeling winded while running after a toddler! You should be ready for a day of hide and go seek or tag at a moment's notice.

Aside from being active, being healthy is also important. Children have a weaker immune system than adults. So if you've got the flu or any other infectious disease, it's best not to accept any babysitting jobs. Parents are generally pretty understanding if you're sick. They'd rather find a replacement babysitter than treat a house full of sick children for the week afterward!

For more advice on that topic, check out my article: Should You Babysit When You're Sick?

Also learn the tricks now for babysitting sick children because eventually you'll find yourself looking after kids that aren't feeling well.

8. Trustworthy

Allowing you into their home and temporarily putting you in charge of their children is a very intimate thing for a parent to share with you as a babysitter. To make it work, a very high level of trust is required.

Trust is one of the most important bonds between a parent and babysitter. Parents need to know they can trust you to keep their kids safe and make sure that you enforce the rules of their house.

Read our tips to being a safe babysitter.

A lot of the trust between parents and a babysitter is implied. But if you ever do something to break that trust, it can be difficult to rebuild a parent's faith in you.

The more you can get to know parents before you babysit for them the first time, the better. Share as much as you can about your previous experience and what kind of person you are with them in advance. It can be helpful to go out for coffee with a parent just to get to know them and share a bit about yourself.

9. A Leader

Of course, part of being a babysitter is being playful and able to relate to the kids you're watching. But you also need to be able to take charge and act as an authority figure or make sure that rules are followed when necessary.

Babysitting might seem like just fun and games until you come up against a specific rule like not watching any television that kids may want to rebel against. It's all about having the tact necessary to diplomatically stand up to kids and make unpopular decisions when necessary, but also be seen as someone who is fair and kind. Kids need to know that you're in charge, but also shouldn't necessarily be afraid of you.

Be sure to talk to parents in advance to make sure exactly how their family specifically handles discipline or bad behavior.

Part of being a good babysitter (or leader in general) is being able to set boundaries. Kids thrive best when they're given a specific and predictable routine to follow. So the closer you as a babysitter can keep kids following their usual household routine, the less likely you are to start running into problems. As long as things stay consistent, kids are less likely to have a problem. Although you still need to be prepared for them to test the limits a bit, particularly at the beginning!

Read more about babysitting leadership skills and how important they are in general.

10. Flexible

Parents appreciate a babysitter that is flexible. That mostly means being able to adapt to different needs and situations seamlessly.

Parents might arrive home an hour or so later than expected some nights because of traffic or any other number of reasons. As a babysitter, you should expect that you won't always finish exactly on time, and should be okay with that. As long as you're compensated for any extra time that you need to work, of course.

Flexibility includes negotiating when it comes to pay-rates, schedules, and generally being easy-going about all things involved with babysitting.

(Are you trying to figure out how to negotiate a babysitting rate? Check out my 9 tips!)

Things can often come up for parents at a moments notice, so being flexible enough to drop everything and go babysitting if you get a phone call can provide you with some extra work, and very grateful parents!

Of course, you want any relationship with your clients to go both ways. If you offer some flexibility to them, it's fair to expect a bit in return as well.

You want to be open to a variety of different situations without ever feeling like the families that you babysit for are taking advantage of you. There are some things, like the minimum pay you're willing to accept, that you shouldn't compromise on. But in general, a bit of flexibility really goes a long way in establishing a long-term babysitting job.

11. Smart

You can have all the babysitting training and experience in the world. But some people just really lack common sense when they're faced with a new or uncertain situation!

As a great babysitter, you should be a great problem-solver and be able to think analytically to solve any problems that you might find yourself facing. You should be able to use your experience to figure out how to use a new microwave or washing machine at a client's home that you've never used before.

Aside from overcoming obstacles on the job, you want to be able to answer any questions that kids may have for you.

Children are full of questions and they're naturally curious, so you should be educated enough to answer some basic questions for them like why the sky is blue or grass is green. Or at least have the ability to find out for them if they ask something that you can't answer!

A smart babysitter can make sure that kids are having fun and learning at the same time!

12. Self-Confident

Kids and parents alike will judge you by how you act and look. When dealing with either of them, you need to be confident and sure enough in your own knowledge and abilities to stand your ground.

Babysitters need to be talkative and outgoing to really build a bond with new children that they're watching. If you come across as awkward or shy, communication might be difficult and it can take longer for kids to warm up to their new babysitter.

You don't need to be the most bubbly and extroverted person in the world. But you at least need to come across as someone who is friendly and confident in themselves.

Adults don't want to hang out with a low-energy person who is just boring, and young kids aren't any different. So try your best to be confident and appear outgoing, especially when babysitting a new child for the first time.

13. Have Good Manners

As a babysitter, you're setting an example for the children that you're watching. So you should show a basic level of etiquette and manners that you would expect them to follow as well.

This means simple things like saying please and thank you, and generally being courteous. Using table manners when eating with the kids you're watching. And also showing general respect for the home of the parents that you're babysitting for. That includes respecting their privacy and not going through drawers and closets without permission, or handling their personal possessions.

Conclusion

We can identify certain qualities that all good babysitters seem to have.

This includes characteristics like being responsible, dependable, punctual, kind, patient, creative, confident, and more.

Many of these are things that parents expect a new babysitter to have right away. But luckily, most of them are things that you can also work to improve on if you have weaknesses in a specific area.

Do you struggle with any particular quality I've listed? Try to come up with a plan to gradually improve on it over time!

Up next:

Written and Illustrated by:

Matthew Taylor

Matthew Taylor

Kidsit Founder & Editor, Illustrator, Web Developer, and father of three beautiful kids from Sydney, Australia.

Published: 28 July 2019

More Babysitting Tips

Babysitting Qualifications (Which Ones Do You Need?)

Learn the most popular babysitting qualifications, what they are, why you need them, and how they can put you ahead of the competition when applying for jobs.

How to Start Babysitting with No Experience (7 Easy Steps)

Learn the steps needed to start babysitting with no experience. Once you have some experience under your belt, you’ll be really marketable as a babysitter.

What Age Can You Start Babysitting? (Laws & Maturity Requirements)

Learn how to tell for yourself if you're old enough to start babysitting, and things you can do to make yourself more likely to get hired as a young babysitter.

Babysitting Rate Guide (How Much Should You Charge?)

See out how much you're actually worth as a babysitter by reviewing your skills, experience, the job requirements, and where you live.

How to Babysit Preschoolers (Child Needs, Discipline & Common Mistakes)

Learn what preschoolers need, what's important to them, effective discipline strategies, and common mistakes all babysitters should avoid.

Babysitter with responsibility list

Babysitting Responsibilities (23 Duties Parents May Expect From You)

Learn the most common responsibilities that parents expect of their babysitters and how your duties may change depending on the job requirements.

How to Babysit a Toddler (28 Tips: Care, Activities & Discipline)

Learn the important things to keep in mind when you're babysitting a toddler, as well as 28 tips to make your job a bit easier.

Safe babysitter

How to Stay Safe When Babysitting (Essential Tips You Should Know)

Learn all the steps for keeping safe from the interview, to on the job childcare. Our tips include preventative measures and best practices while babysitting kids.

Babysitter with her backpack

What Should I Bring to a Babysitting Job? (18 Essential Items to Pack)

The best way to bring your A-game is to be prepared for everything. This article will help you pack the ultimate babysitting pack.

Kidsit Babysitting Kit

Get Your Printable Babysitting Kit (Download Free Forms, Checklists & Documents)

Download and print our free babysitting kit. It's packed full of useful resources to make childcare easy and fun.

Playing hopscotch with kids

Fun things to do when babysitting 200+ Kids Games, Activities & Entertainment Ideas

205 Kids Games, Activities & Ideas to keep even the fussiest kids entertained for hours.

A baby walking for the first time

Why Become a Babysitter? (11 Reasons Why it's a Fulfilling Job)

We explore the main benefits of being a babysitter to help you decide if it's the right job for you.

Five-star review

Babysitting References (What Are They & How To Get Them?)

Learn what babysitting references are, why they're important, who you should use as a reference, and some essential tips to put you ahead of the competition.

What to Expect at a Babysitting Interview (By Phone, Video Chat or In-Person)

I'll walk you through the major steps of a babysitting interview process so you'll know how to prepare and what to expect.

Babysitting For Free (6 Reasons Why You Should, Plus Coupons!)

Learn why babysitting for free is a great choice, particularly as a beginner when you need to gain childcare experience and references.

How To Negotiate A Babysitting Rate (9 Tips: Preparation & Strategies)

Learn some essential tips and strategies to bring to the bargaining table to help get you the pay rate that you deserve.

The Ultimate Babysitting Binder (20 Documents & Fun Items to Include)

With a well stocked babysitting binder, you can focus on caregiving because you know you have everything you need.

How to Become a Babysitter (13 Easy Steps to Get Started)

Learn if babysitting is right for you and which simple steps you need to follow to become a successful and confident babysitter.

Sleeping child

How to Get Kids to Bed When Babysitting (Ssssssh… 8 Bedtime Secrets!)

Learn these 8 simple tricks to nail a successful bedtime every night! It's surprising how many of these sleeping tips are not commonly known.

Babysitter choosing clothes

What to Wear When Babysitting (How to be Professional and Practical)

Strike the best balance between professional and practical by following our handy clothing tips for your next babysitting job.

Babysitter hugging a child

How to Be a Safe Babysitter (Essential Safety Tips You Should Know)

Learn how to be a safe babysitter by following our essential safety tips and best practices while looking after children. Safety is so important!

Babysitter cleaning

Should Babysitters Clean? (How to Set Parent Expectations)

Cleaning is a part of doing a good job. A good babysitter will tidy up any mess made while caring for the children. But how much cleaning is necessary?

Babysitter with a fed baby

How to Babysit a Baby: The Beginner’s Guide

Learn how to babysit a baby by following our simple beginners guide and you’ll know what to do in no time.

Babysitter hugging a boy

Can You Babysit Without Qualifications?

In most places, you don't need qualifications to babysit. However, parents prefer carers with a First Aid Certificate & other basic credentials. Find out what qualifications you need.

Multi-skilled babysitter

28 Skills you can Learn from Babysitting (And why they're so valuable)

See all the skills that babysitting can teach you and learn why most of them are fully transferable to other occupations.