If it's your first time hiring babysitters, you might not be sure what separates a good babysitter from a bad one. Luckily there are some reliable signs of a good babysitter. You can use them to be sure you don't end up with a less-than-stellar sitter.
Hiring a good babysitter is vital for several reasons. First and foremost, you want to be sure you're working with a sitter that can keep your children safe. You want to have someone you can trust and rely on to take good care of your children while you're away and it's definitely worth the peace of mind knowing that everything is taken care of at home.
Signs of a good babysitter:
- They're happy to see your child
- Your child is happy to see them!
- They ask for help if they're not sure
- They're creative and can improvise
- They keep in touch
- They keep your child clean and happy
- They keep your home tidy
- They don't mind a challenge (or extra tasks)
- They give your child plenty of attention
- Your personalities don't clash
Let's look at these and more in detail.
1. They're Happy To See Your Child
A good babysitter is one that is genuinely pleased to see your child and enjoys their company.
Children need to feel wanted and feel like their sitter enjoys spending time with them. They'll be able to tell if that's not the case! Your child will feel more loved and cared for when they feel their babysitter genuinely cares about them as a person.
It's great if the babysitter feels like a real friend to your child, then you know that your child is in good hands and will have a great time with their sitter while you're away!
A babysitter that seems disinterested in your child, bored, or in a hurry to get somewhere else isn't someone who is a good fit.
2. Your Child Is Happy To See Them!
If your babysitter really cares, then your child should warm up to them fairly quickly. Although some children take longer before they really develop a sense of trust with their sitter.
It's okay if your child isn't entirely on board with a brand new babysitter the first time that they come over. After your sitter has babysat for you a few times, you should start to notice your child warming up to the babysitter.
Your child doesn't have to be super excited whenever your babysitter comes over, but their behavior around their babysitter should indicate they see them more like a friend or family member, as opposed to a complete stranger. If there's a lot of hesitation there, maybe your child and that particular babysitter just aren't a great match. It can also be a warning sign that something isn't quite right, so it might be time to move on to a new babysitter in that case.
Once your child has a regular babysitter, they should be pretty excited about them coming back. When children spend time with a babysitter, they usually get plenty of activity and attention, and maybe some treats they don't normally get. So your child should really seem like they enjoy the time they spend with their babysitter.
If your babysitter is providing the kind of connection and warmth that your child needs, then it should be pretty apparent. When you ask your child about their time with the sitter, they might talk about how much fun they had, or be excited for them to come back. That's a great sign that you've picked a good babysitter!
Before you leave your child alone with a babysitter for the first time, you might want to give them an opportunity to meet each other first while you're around. You might pay the babysitter just to come over and spend some time with the child while you're at home. That way, they can become more comfortable with each other before you have to leave them alone.
3. Your Personalities Don't Clash
It's crucial that your child and the babysitter get along. But it's equally important that you as the parent get along with the babysitter as well. You may be seeing them quite frequently, depending on how often you need a babysitter. So it's good to pick someone you naturally seem to get along with.
There's no point dealing with extra frustration if a babysitter doesn't have a personality that jives with yours. Don't be afraid to listen to your gut feeling or intuition when it comes to telling a good babysitter from a bad one. It's usually right.
4. They Ask For Help If They're Not Sure
It's great to have a self-reliant babysitter that doesn't need to call you for answers every time you're out, but it's also good to know that you have a sitter who isn't afraid to reach out for help if they find themselves in a difficult situation.
If something is going on, like your child is refusing to go to bed or take a bath, your sitter should be ready to turn to you for help. It's great if they even check on smaller things that you haven't discussed beforehand. For example, whether your child is allowed to watch a scary movie, or eat cake before bed. Sure they could just use their judgment, but some things have consequences that will last longer than others if they make the wrong choice!
It's all about having a babysitter that finds the right balance between knowing when to ask you for help, and when they're probably safe to make a judgment call of their own.
5. They Respect Your Time
A good babysitter arrives on time. After all, the whole reason that you've hired a babysitter is that you have somewhere to be!
If a good babysitter is going to be late, they should call to let you know that they've run into something unexpected.
A babysitter that really goes above and beyond will even give you warning a few weeks in advance if they're going to be on vacation or otherwise unavailable for the time they usually babysit. They might even be able to suggest a substitute sitter that you can use in the meantime!
Interested in learning even more signs of a good babysitter? Check out this other article - What to Look For in a Babysitter (12 Essential Qualities)
6. They're Creative and Can Improvise
A good babysitter should be able to improvise to give your child the best possible care, even if they run into problems.
For example, if your babysitter is helping your child paint and they run out of paper, the sitter might improvise and let your child paint on rocks, popsicle sticks, or some other material instead. If your child is being a fussy eater, your sitter can come up with a creative way to make it into a game and get your child to eat their dinner.
Babysitters who have a few years of experience should have some tricks up their sleeve when it comes to distracting children, comforting them, and more. A good sitter can come up with creative solutions to all kinds of situations that might present themselves.
A creative babysitter is also helpful when you don't really have much of an itinerary planned for the day, or in case of an unexpected rainy day. A good babysitter should have an excellent back catalog of games and activities that they can do with your child to keep them busy and engaged.
7. They Have Good Answers To Your Interview Questions
The better a prospective babysitter can answer your questions during an interview, the higher the likelihood is that they're a great babysitter that really knows what they're doing.
Don't be afraid to ask your potential babysitter some hard-hitting questions. Like what they would do if your child hurts themselves and wouldn't stop crying? What they'd do if your child refused to go to bed? Or what the babysitter would do if they locked themselves out of your home and didn't have a phone on them?
It can also be useful to ask your potential sitter what kind of challenging scenarios they've personally dealt with on the job before.
To make sure you're asking all the right questions during the interview, check out this article - How To Interview A Babysitter (Essential Tips & Trusted Techniques)
8. They Keep In Touch
A good babysitter will keep you informed at every step of the way.
They may call you a day or two ahead of your scheduled babysitting time, just to confirm that you still need a sitter (and to show that they remember!)
While you're out, they might text you just to give you an update on how things are going.
Some babysitters will even provide a daily report, or at least some detailed notes, of what the child was up to while you were out, and how things went. At the very least, they should give you a brief verbal summary of the night once you get back home. They can touch on basic things like what your child ate when they went to bed, and what kind of activities they did together.
Thoughtful babysitters know that you want to be kept in the loop on how your child is doing.
9. They Keep Your Child Clean and Happy
Your child shouldn't be sticky or dirty when you get home after a night of babysitting. That's usually an indication that your babysitter was either too lazy or too inattentive to wipe your child down after meals or give them a bath before bed. Especially for younger children, it should be expected that the babysitter wipes their hands and face whenever they have something to eat or drink or get a bit messy.
If your child is in bed before you get home, they should be in a good mood the next day and seem well-rested. That's a good indication that the babysitter got them to bed at their regular bedtime. If your child is cranky the next day, it might mean they've stayed up later than you had asked for.
10. They Keep Your Home Tidy
It's not your babysitter's job to act as a maid. After all, the vast majority of their attention should go toward looking after your children, not cleaning up. good babysitter should do their best to leave your home at least as clean as they found it. That means doing some basic tidying and cleaning after meals or craft time.
An above-average babysitter might even clean up toys, wash the dishes, or do other tasks after your child has gone to bed, as an added bonus.
How much should your babysitter do around the house? Read this article to find out - Do Babysitters Wash Dishes & Do Other Chores? (What to Expect)
11. They Don't Mind A Challenge (or Extra Tasks)
An experienced babysitter shouldn't mind taking on some more challenging tasks. For example, you might need the babysitter to take your children to dance or swimming lessons once a week. Or your child may have special needs that need to be taken into account.
However, you should let your sitter know any specific extra requests you have before they start working. And generally the more extra tasks you ask of your babysitter, the better they should be paid for going above and beyond their regular babysitting duties.
12. Your Child Doesn't Have Frequent Accidents
It's normal for children to get the occasional scrape or bruise while they're running around and being active but a good babysitter should have safety at the forefront of their mind regardless of whether they're in your home, or out at the playground.
A good babysitter will make sure your child looks both ways before they cross the road, and keep a vigilant eye out for any potentially dangerous behavior where they need to intervene.
If your child seems to be constantly getting hurt while under the care of a babysitter, that's probably a sign the sitter isn't paying close enough attention and isn't making your child's safety their priority. Maybe they're too busy talking to other parents at the playground, or too focused on their phone or the television in the home, and not giving your child the supervision they need.
If your sitter is constantly coming to work looking tired or worn out, that's another sign they may simply not have the energy or constant attention to properly watch your children and make sure they're kept safe.
13. They Ask The Right Questions
Babysitters should have a list of important questions that they ask all new families they babysit for. They'll want to know of any allergies your child has, how they should handle discipline, who to get in contact with, in case of an emergency, and other details. This shows that your babysitter is thinking ahead and knows how to be prepared.
14. They Give Your Child Plenty of Attention
Some babysitters may spend more time looking at the television, or their phone or laptop than at your child. That's not the kind of sitter you want!
The majority of the time your babysitter is in your home, they should be directly supervising and engaging with your child. Unless your child is already asleep.
Your babysitter needs to have their phone turned on so you can call or text them if needed. For example, to let them know that you might be home a bit late. Your sitter shouldn't be texting their friends the entire time that you're gone.
Usually asking your children about their time with the babysitter can reveal if they've been given the right amount of attention and stimulation or not.
15. They Have Great References
Before a babysitter even arrives at your home for their first babysitting shift, you'll want to have checked their references. It's a good idea to talk to 3 to 5 references to get an accurate idea of what they're like.
Be sure to ask references the ages of children the sitter worked with. The skillsets needed to babysit a ten-year-old versus a newborn are very different.
(See our recommended questions to ask babysitter references.)
Whether your babysitter has provided previous employers, teachers, or someone else as a character reference, they can all be useful. You can ask questions of these people to get a good overall picture of how kind, hard-working, responsible, and punctual your babysitter is.
If any references your babysitter gives seem to be uncertain about their abilities, it's probably a sign that they do a less than stellar job.
16. They Have A Respectable Lifestyle Outside of Work
You want to hire a babysitter who is an all-around good person. This doesn't necessarily mean that you need to be a prude. If you look on your babysitter's Facebook and their entire profile is pictures of them partying, drinking, or engaging in other behaviors that are considered less than respectable, you should proceed with caution. After all, your regular babysitter is going to be one of the role models in your child's life. You want someone who is mature, dependable, and going to be a good influence on your child.
Now you should have a detailed idea of what to look for in a good babysitter.
The overall kind of sitter you want to look for is someone who enjoys spending time with your child, and who your child likes as well. They should be a good problem solver, detail-oriented, and should always have the safety and wellbeing of your children at the forefront of their mind.
Now that you know the signs of a good babysitter, you might also want to know some of the warning signs of a bad one! Check out my article – Warning Signs of A Bad Babysitter (18 Red Flags to Watch Out For!)
Do you have a good babysitter? Then you should write them a glowing babysitter reference. If you're not sure where to start, see my Sample Babysitter References for inspiration.
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The Perfect Gift For Your Babysitter
My book, Babysitting Business Secrets, is out now as an inexpensive ebook or full-color paperback. If your babysitter is serious about becoming the best sitter they can be, then this book is perfect for them. I reveal all my tricks and tips for first-time babysitters or experienced sitters who just want to up their game. Get your copy today!
- Matthew Taylor, Kidsit Founder