Introduction: When you fly on an airplane, the flight attendant always notes that if the pressure drops, you should put the oxygen on yourself first and then on your child. One of the most important things for new parents to do is to devise an entertainment strategy for themselves because happy parents always lead to happier children. And this necessarily requires parents to find some type of child care provider. Although there are many male babysitters, the use of “she” and “her” will be employed to avoid confusion!
- Choosing a babysitter
- What is the age of the child? Most new parents are very protective of their child. It is therefore more useful to have a college or older high school age babysitter with much experience with infants. Having a supportive mother just a phone call away is helpful for many younger babysitters.
- What experience does she have? You have to first decide what level of experience is necessary for your needs. If you expect the sitter to feed the baby, what experience does she have? Does she have younger siblings? Have you even seen her in action? If you expect the sitter to put your child to sleep, what experience does she have in that area as well? How long (if at all) do you want her to allow your child to cry?
- What are your expectations?
- A sitter needs to be respectful and attentive to your needs. It doesn’t matter what someone else wanted; it matters what’s important to you.
- Do you personally know the sitter? References are not nearly as important as relationships. If you do not personally know the sitter, how well do you know the person who referred her?
- Safety background
- Fire safety. A sitter should understand what to do in the event of an emergency, how to contact the police and fire department and how to summon the emergency squad.
- CPR. It is nice to find a sitter with training in CPR. But the likelihood of needing CPR is very small and it is more important for a sitter to have a basic grounding in dealing with choking, poisoning and illness.
- Babysitting course graduates. There are many Red Cross outlets and local municipalities that offer such courses. They are useful because they provide lots of practical hints. But choosing a sitter with good common sense may be more critical.
- What information to leave with a sitter
- Always leave a pager or cell phone number or the number at the restaurant or night club at which you are attending.
- Identify the number for poison control and for a grandparent or friend who can help out in the event that you cannot be reached.
In Home Care Providers
- Choosing a nanny or in home care provider
- Screening by phone. Ask about experience. How will she get to your home? Does she seem excited about the idea of spending time with your child? What language does she speak? If it is not English, can she communicate well enough in English to keep your child safe?
- Checking references. Always check references even if she seems wonderful during the interview. What were her previous employment experiences. Did she leave on a pleasant note? What age of children did she watch previously? Was she reliable and punctual?
- The interview. Is she tidy as if the interview is important to you? Does she click with you? Is there a personal chemistry? What are her feeding practices? Would she modify them to satisfy you? What are your other expectations? (cleaning, errands and laundry) Keep the interview friendly and don’t become confrontational? Watch to see if she becomes defensive. Do not hire anyone that seems angry or depressed.
- What training does she have?
- Has she gone through an official program or is she self taught?
- Does she have experience with dealing with choking? CPR?
Group Care Facilities
- Call the center and speak with the director!
- What is the philosophy of the center?
- Is the facility licensed or certified?
- What is the provider/child ratio? What is the staff turnover?
- Can parents visit without prior arrangement?
- What info will be shared with parents?
- How many different caregivers are there in a week?
- Check References
- Visit the facility
- Is it clean and neat? Do the children seem happy?
- Are inside and outside play activities supervised at all times?
- How much time is spent watching television? What toys are available?
- What foods are provided? Can arrangements be made for a special diet?
Whether it is a babysitter for an hour or a child care provider or facility for 40, remember it is your child. Any person or place that makes you feel uneasy when you ask a question is probably not the right place for you. Good luck!