Questions to ask a potential babysitterBeginning the search for a nanny or babysitter can seem daunting.
Establishing a rapport and trust with someone to care for your most precious commodities is no easy task. As a mama who used to be the neighborhood block babysitter to coming full circle as a woman with her own children on a quest for the best babysitter she could find…take it from her (me), this is your complete list of questions to ask potential babysitters for those of you with babies and toddlers.
1. Describe your previous babysitting experiences.
You want to hire someone with experience, or who has at least volunteered working with kids, or who has younger siblings. Everyone has to start somewhere, so use you discretion and trust your gut!
2. What is your mode of transportation?
This one is mainly for the teens, but important to ask the adults too. Some families share a car, and not everyone uses a car for their transportation. We set up an arrangement to pick up and drop off our two current babysitters, but this may not work for everyone. It's important to work out the kinks in the beginning.
3. What are your hobbies and interests?
This will be very telling about what kind of person they are, what sort of things they'll do with your children and how comfortable they are doing new things.
4. Have you ever been in an emergency situation? How did you deal with it?
Ask the candidate also if they have an adult or another person they can reach out to if there is an emergency situation. This is really important if you decide to hire a teenager or someone who doesn't drive.
5. What are the top 3 nurturing characteristics that you believe are essential in caring for children?
You're looking for the magical three. Kindness and affection, gentle patience and flexibility. (Okay maybe that's a bit more than three. Anyone worth their salt won't be able to resist on expanding on more than three.)
6. How will you respond when one (or all) of my kids has a meltdown? Experience separation anxiety when I/we leave? Sibling conflict?
These things happen every day in a household where babies and/or toddlers live. It's important that a potential new babysitter expects the unexpected, remains calm, knows that these behavioural challenges are a regular part of baby and toddler development, and has some techniques developed to work through them.
7. Describe to me a typical day that you'd have with our kids.
You want to know that TV or other forms of screen time aren't their automatic go-to. You want to hear about different outings, crafts and activities they've done with children in their care in the past and what they'd hope to do with your kids in the future.
8. Describe to me what you would do with our children for the day with $50.
A day at the Science Center or a trip to the arcade? Off-the-cuff questions like this will inspire genuine answers.
9. Do you have any health problems or dietary restrictions we should know about?
Since you're obviously going to stock up on some of their favourite snacks, it's important to know about these things. Even more important to know if they have health issues that could affect how they care for your children.
10. Describe to me a breakfast, lunch and dinner that you might serve to our children. Snacks?
Again, putting them on the spot like this will garner an authentic response! That's what you want.
11. Do you have any additional training that relates to childcare?
When I first started babysitting as a teen, I took a course and got my first first aid/CPR training. It's kind of the gold standard. Don't feel weird about expecting it or making it a pre-requisite to getting the job with your family.
12. Can you provide references, and are you comfortable with a background check?
This is so important and totally warranted. Perhaps not with your neighbor's 14-year-old daughter, but an adult? I'm gonna be a narcissist here and say HECK YES.
13. Can we be Facebook friends?
Such a random, worthy question. Watch for their reaction here. If they're hesitant - this could be a sign that they have something to hide.
14. Do you have social media accounts?
An essential question in this day and age. It's a very personal decision as to what you're comfortable having your babysitter share about your kids on the internet, and you should know upfront if such a thing is even in question.
15. Why do you love working with kids?
An obvious one.
16. Which age group of children are you most comfortable/experienced with?
Some people aren't comfortable with newborns, for example, or even babies and toddlers. Although, this is usually known before you even get to the interviewing process. It's always good to get the answers in person too.
Related: 25 Disney-inspired baby names for your princess
17. What sort of things can we do to make you comfortable here with our kids?
Cultivate a positive relationship with your babysitter; it shouldn't just be all about you!
18. What sort of things have you accomplished that you're proud of?
An unexpected, introspective question with answers that will hopefully shine more light on their true personality, values, and morals.
19. Can we meet your friend(s) first if you want to bring them over while babysitting?
Obviously, this one is geared more towards the teenagers!
20. Do you have any religious beliefs or affiliations that would affect the way you care for our children that differs from our own beliefs and what we may be comfortable with?
It is your absolute right to not have your children indoctrinated with a religion that you don't follow or that contrasts with your family's beliefs.
21. What kinds of discipline have you administered in the past?
Establish the basics right upfront.
22. Can you do overnights?
23. How experienced are you with diaper changes, potty training, bathtime and bedtime routines?
An essential group of baby- and toddler-geared questions that are mandatory!
24. What is your availability and hourly rate?
All cards on the table right upfront.
- By Selena Burgess
For 30 classic baby names inspired by Old Hollywood stars, visit Disney Baby!
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