2. Set Up an Interview
Once you've lined up some potential picks, get a sense of what they're like by doing a phone interview.
"Always get a little background. Ask her about her home life and childcare experience, and get some references," says Angelina Newbury, babysitting instructor at the Women and Infants Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island.
When you speak to references, ask open-ended questions. "Instead of asking if she always came on time, try, 'Tell me about Lisa,'" says Kerstin Potter, director of the early-childhood education program at Harcum College, in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania.
Once everything checks out and you've gotten a feel for her sitting style, schedule an interview in your home. During the meeting, observe how the sitter interacts with your baby, says Patricia Varden, chairperson of the early-childhood education department at Manhattanville College, in Purchase, New York.
"You want someone who's excited about being with your baby, not someone who looks as if she's thinking, okay, this is a job and it's time to check in."
You can also learn a lot about a sitter by giving her potential scenarios, says Greg Stockton, health and safety expert at the American Red Cross. "Ask what she would do if your toddler refused to eat or if the baby wouldn't stop crying."