Choosing a Babysitter

Interviewing a Candidate

Once you've found a candidate, interview her as if she's being hired for a real job -- which she is.

Ideally the candidate you're considering should come to your house for the interview, so you can see firsthand how she interacts with your child. Find out whether she's ever cared for a child the same age as yours (if you have an infant younger than 1, you want a sitter who has experience with babies), the types of games she plays with children, and what she does when they cry or refuse to go to bed.

It's not enough that the babysitter seems responsible and likes kids, notes Heather Paul, PhD, executive director of the Safe Kids Campaign. It's also important for her to know how to keep kids from getting hurt and what to do in an emergency.

Ask a potential sitter whether she knows first aid, CPR, and the Heimlich maneuver. You can get a sense of how well she thinks on her feet by posing "What if?" scenarios, such as "What would you do if my baby were running a fever?" Finally, ask for a reference (two if she wasn't a friend's recommendation) and check it.

At some point early on, you should ask what she charges. Fees vary across the country, but a teen babysitter makes about $5 to $10 an hour. If you have more than one child, some sitters charge extra. And if you want the sitter to do any extra chores, such as folding laundry, be prepared to pay more.

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