Hiring a caregiver? Don't fret--there are some great babysitters out there. Here are 15 pointers to help you find the one who's right for you and your child.

By Lori Shecter

1. Give yourself time to find a caregiver. If you're going back to work and hiring full-time care, it's best to allow two months to find and train your babysitter.

2. Interview all prospects at least twice--first without your child present, so you can really pay attention to her answers and body language.

3. It's hard to be objective. Have a friend help you interview. They may pick up on things you don't.

4. Follow your instincts. Don't hire someone you think is mediocre because you're running out of time.

5. Let your candidates answer your questions. Don't give her the answers by telling her the qualities you are looking for.

6. The person who acts most friendly to your child is not always the best choice. No one can develop an instantaneous bond to a child.

7. There is no one "type" of person that makes the best caregiver.

8. Interview questions should extract information ranging from her own childhood experiences, child care philosophies, safety knowledge, discipline questions, personality traits, and personal habits.

9. Always have trial days before offering the job to give you time to watch her with your child.

10. Good references don't always ensure a good babysitter--but never hire a babysitter with poor references.

11. Conduct a background check.

12. Your caregiver is not your servant. Be respectful of her working hours. Pay her overtime if you are late. If she's working for you full-time, she should get at least 1 week paid vacation as well as some paid sick days.

13. Make sure your babysitter knows CPR.

14. Be specific about what you expect in terms of childcare and keep lines of communication open.

15. If you're instincts tell you that the babysitter you've hired isn't working out, don't keep her on just because you hate to fire somebody. Always put your child first.

Copyright © 2002 Parents.com.

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