Things to Look for in a Babysitter or Nanny

I’m really looking forward to this series on childcare. I’ll be highlighting a few different areas that are important for parents to consider when looking to leave their little ones in someone else’s care, especially if it isn’t with family. I’ll be diving into blog posts that pertain to the emotions mothers (and fathers) might feel leaving their little ones to return back to work after maternity/paternity leave, dealing with separation anxiety with little ones, etc…I hope highlighting these topics might encourage some of you who are going through this or could be in the future.

For the first four months of Rowan’s life, I took maternity leave from my full-time job to stay home with him and then went back to work full time. Now, when I say back to work, I had the luxury at the time of having a home office. So when it came time to look for a nanny, we knew that one who was willing to work inside the home while I was upstairs in my office was the best and most convenient route to go. We did some asking around in order to get paired up with our nanny – we found out quickly that the cost for great in-home care for our one child would run around $10-15/hr – yikes! We decided to try to work something out with a friend who was also looking for in-home care for her 2-year-old. This matchup worked so great! We were able to split the cost of the nanny – and she was willing to come to our house to watch both boys. My friend would drop her two-year-old son off each morning on her way into work, the way the situation worked out was such a blessing. This sort of childcare is often called a “nanny-share”.


The following year, in January 2018, I decided to quit my fulltime job to stay home with Rowan. I wanted to work on my blog more and spend more time with him now that he was becoming more social and active and for a handful of other reasons we just felt made it the right choice for our family.  However, after a handful of months Dusty and I realized that it was unrealistic for me to watch Rowan every day, all day, and not get any reprieve from the day to day job of “mom”. Dusty’s schedule was crazy busy and the break was very much appreciated on my end. We do not have the luxury of having family living nearby so this meant that we had to find a babysitter not just to watch Rowan once a week for a few hours to give me a break, but to help with date nights and random outings Dusty and I wanted for some adult time. Our nanny who we had had for the last year moved away and now we had to start over and find someone with a very flexible schedule who wanted to just work 4-8 hours per week. Thankfully, we live in a university town and with the hours and flexiblity we needed, the job would be fitting for a college student.

The process of searching for a babysitter felt super stressful at first even more stressful than when we initially had to find our full-time nanny.  We put a profile up on which was helpful, we messaged and texted friends and neighbors to try and get firsthand referrals. brought up a handful of great options – but we ended up going with a college student who was referred by a friend. She now has been helping with Rowan one day a week since last spring, and Rowan loves her!

Leaving your kiddos with another person and under someone else’s’ care can be hard and challenging. Whether you’re going back to work after maternity leave, looking to get time away for yourself, etc. whatever the reason, it is hard to walk away for any amount of time knowing your little human(s) are being watched by someone else. I knew that ultimately creating a safe and comfortable environment in which to leave Rowan would give him and the confidence needed to succeed in this transition – and in turn, we both would succeed. Rowan actually cried and clung to me for the first 8 months when our new sitter would show up…and just the other day I braced myself for her arrival and he merely waved to me and said “Bye mom.” and asked the sitter to play hockey with him. He could have cared less that I was leaving…more on this in another blog post coming soon!

I’m sure there are plenty more tips that I’m not thinking of or that could be added to the list below. In the end, trust your gut. If the person you’re interviewing passes all your expectations and meets all the criteria but something isn’t sitting right – trust that instinct. It’s ok to be picky about this!

Here are some tips from moms of my Samantha Elizabeth Blog Facebook Group that might help you when searching for a nanny or a babysitter for your kiddos. The ideas below may fluctuate based on need, for example, you may not need the babysitter to meet certain criteria if it’s just a weekday thing for a handful of hours, hopefully, this acts as a guide!

  • Give yourself plenty of time to interview and meet with potential nannies or sitters! Don’t wait till the last minute, no matter how hard it is! Giving yourself time is the best for you and your baby/kids.
  • If you are able, get a referral from someone you trust and who knows the babysitter personally.
  • Always do a background check if your babysitter or nanny isn’t someone you personally know or has a great firsthand reference. If this is someone you know little about, a background check should be conducted. There are many options out there if you use Google, but I found this link online that might be helpful.
  • Are they willing to meet at a neutral place in town to get to know you and the child.
  • Have an idea of the type of personality you want the sitter to have.
  • Get good references! Don’t be afraid to ask for two or three and one should be a past employer and call them!
    • Ask references about their attendance and punctuality at the prior job site.
    • Ask about how they dealt with conflict.
    • On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being excellent and 1 being would not recommend, ask how likely the employer would recommend them for another position elsewhere.
  • Always, always, look them up on social media and browse their profiles (creepy -but necessary).
  • See if they are willing to do light cooking and/or cleaning.
  • Ask if they have the ability to carry out small projects (educational or art).
  • Are they willing to care for sick kids.
  • Are they willing to come over if the parents are sick.
  • Make sure they are CPR certified and have basic first aid skills.
  • How much childcare experience do they have, what is their background.
  • What is their schedule like and make sure they are flexible.
  • Are they willing and do they seem to understand of the rules you set in place for your kids (i.e. no screen time, limited screen time, etc…)
  • Find someone who is willing to take the kids out and do something (story hour, parks, beaches, etc).
  • Make sure they have a driver’s license!
  • Find someone with lots of patience or understands the importance of patience with young kids.
  • Are they comfortable with special needs children or children with special health restrictions.
  • Are they comfortable administering medication such as antibiotics, epi-pens, etc.
  • Similar lifestyle, so that things they do with your child/children are in line with choices you would make.
  • What is their “style” of discipline for children they babysit, are they open to adopting some of your techniques.
  • Ask them how they deal with the conflict between children – what would they do? Then share what you expect or would like them to do and see how they react to your preference.
  • Are they available and willing to babysit on date nights.
  • Are they willing to do overnight babysitting/nannying if your job requires travel.
  • Are they willing to spend some time around your child/children while you’re home doing chores, or perhaps doing some smaller caretaking while working up toward more of a full-time schedule or the set hours you had in mind. (i.e stopping over and playing for a bit then taking kids to the park down the street) – basically, are they willing to get to know your child to make sure it’s the right fit before being thrown into babysitting full-time or even part-time.
  • Make sure to agree on hourly or salary pay ahead of time! Please leave a comment with other ideas I may have missed!

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