When parents are interviewing potential babysitters or leaving your child with a sitter for the first time, Cathleen Williams, Outreach Life Support Coordinator at Children’s Hospital Colorado recommends asking the following questions:
What age(s) children are you comfortable working with?
A babysitter should be honest about their comfort level and experience with different ages, such as babies, toddlers or school-age children. Keep in mind that caring for a 5-year-old is significantly different than caring for a 5-month-old.
How many children are you comfortable watching at one time?
The amount of children might vary by babysitter’s previous experience, as well as the ages of the children.
What will you do in case of an emergency?
You are looking for answers that indicate that he or she will first get the child(ren) to safety, call 911, and notify you as the parent.
Ask scenario-based questions like the following:
- If Tommy and Billy are fighting over a toy, what will you do?
- If Baby Allison won’t stop crying even after being offered a bottle and diaper change, what will you do?
- If a stranger comes to the door, what will you do?
- If you are changing baby Sarah’s diaper when you realize you left the baby wipes on the dresser across the room, what will you do?
- If you are bathing toddler James and you can hear your phone ringing in the living room, what will you do?
- For all of the scenarios listed above, parents should look for answers that indicate your sitter will act maturely and safely.
What will you do if you run into a problem and I (parent) do not answer the phone?
In this case, you want the sitter to attempt to reach you multiple times through as many means available (such as phone call, text, email, etc.).
Only you can determine what the other acceptable alternatives are (such as the babysitter calling his or her own parent, reaching out to a back-up contact like the child’s aunt/grandma, etc.).