If you and your partner are longing for a night out on the town, you may be interested in finding a babysitter to look after your child. Babysitters have long been a tried and tested childcare alternative, and it is more than probable that you even acted as a babysitter when you were younger. This being said, hiring a babysitter isn't always that easy, and it can be particularly difficult to know where to look when it comes to finding a reputable sitter. Here are some tips to keep in mind when it comes to finding a babysitter that is right for you and your child!

What is a Babysitter?
A babysitter is the term given to someone who comes to your home to look after your child for you when you are out for the evening, at work, or busy with other activities. Babysitters typically work on an occasional or part-time basis and often live in the same neighborhood as you and your children. Babysitters don't necessarily specialize in childcare - in fact, they are typically teenagers or young adults who just enjoy caring for and looking after children in their spare time. Babysitters often make excellent caregivers, as they can form a close and intimate bond with your children.

What are a Babysitter's Responsibilities?
To ensure that you can go out relaxed, knowing that your children are in good hands, read about what to do when the baby sitter arrives. Your babysitter is primarily responsible for ensuring that your children remain safe and happy when you aren't at home. They provide entertainment and activities for your children, and ensure that all house rules remain in place when you are out.  Additionally, babysitters may also:

  • prepare snacks or small meals for your children
  • change diapers when necessary
  • clean up the playroom or kitchen at the end of the day
  • put your children down for a nap
  • get your children ready for bed

What Qualifications Does a Babysitter Have?
Unlike nannies and au pairs, most babysitters have no specific childcare qualifications. The majority of a babysitter's qualifications come from previous babysitting experience. This being said, more and more babysitters now have training in basic first aid and childcare, and many complete babysitting courses before looking after any children.

How is a Babysitter Different from a Nanny?
Unlike nannies, babysitters are not involved in the day-to-day intellectual, emotional, and physical development of your child. Babysitters are not expected to perform household chores, heavy cooking, or provide constant companionship for your children. Additionally, babysitters rarely work on a full-time or live-in basis. As a result, babysitters are much less expensive, but also have much less practical experience and childcare education than a nanny does.

How Much Do Babysitters Cost?
Babysitters are typically paid on an hourly basis. Fees vary greatly, depending upon the amount of experience your sitter has, how far she has to travel, and the days on which you would like her to babysit. Fees can range anywhere from $7 to $20 an hour, or even more on holidays. If your sitter has to take a taxi home, you will be expected to pay for the cost of transportation.

Where To Find a Babysitter
Finding the right babysitter for you can be difficult. However, there are a number of different places that you can look to when it comes to finding your dream sitter!

  • Word of Mouth: Most babysitters are found through word-of-mouth. By talking with other parents, family members, or friends, you may be able to find a babysitter that is trustworthy and affordable. Many parents guard their babysitters carefully however, but their sitter may have a sibling or cousin who is interested in working for you.
  • Pediatrician: Your child's pediatrician may know of other parents in the area who are available to look after your children on an occasional or part-time basis. Many doctors' offices have a bulletin board advertising these types of services.
  • Community Centers and Schools: Community centers and schools often run babysitting courses and can then set you up with a trustworthy sitter. Alternatively, you can post fliers or advertisements at your local high school or youth center to try find the right sitter for you.
  • Babysitting Co-ops: Babysitting co-ops are organizations that are formed by churches, community centers, and hospitals. These co-ops sign up local teenagers, young adults, and parents who are available to provide babysitting services. These co-ops typically operate on a non-profit basis, so you only need to pay your sitter an hourly rate.
  • Babysitting Agencies: Babysitting agencies are an excellent choice, especially if you are looking for a more experienced sitter. These professional agencies prescreen dozens of babysitters, and, for a fee, you can book one of these sitters when you need to. There are hundreds of babysitting agencies located throughout the United States, all of which offer an assortment of different sitters.

Choosing the Right Babysitter
Once you have located a babysitter, it is important to follow a few steps before hiring them. These steps will ensure that you have found a babysitter with the experience and knowledge necessary to provide a safe and fun childcare experience for your little one.

  • Interview the Sitter: Before hiring your sitter, be sure to conduct a short interview during which you can find out a little more about their skills and experience. Remember to ask questions regarding their knowledge of first aid and emergency procedures, as well as about the activities that they will do with your children. Don't forget to ask about previous babysitting experiences, their future availability, and their fees.
  • Call The Sitters Parents: If you are hiring a teenager or young adult, be sure to get in contact with their parents. Reassure the sitter's parents that you will provide transportation to and from your house, if necessary. Also, briefly speak with the parents about the sitters previous babysitting experience and driving record.
  • Watch The Sitter With Your Child: If you like the babysitter, ask him or her to spend a little bit of time interacting with your child. Pay close attention as to how the sitter relates to your child and what techniques he uses to soothe, comfort, or entertain your little one. Afterwards, ask your child what she thought of the sitter.
  • Ask for References: Before you hire your babysitter be sure to ask for a couple of references from previous jobs. Be sure to call these references to ensure that your sitter is qualified and trustworthy.