We’ve all seen the horror reports on the news; hidden cameras blowing a babysitter’s cover, exposing their evil deeds and witnessing the appalling treatment dealt out to youngsters. It needn’t be that way. As a parent, it is your responsibility to be vigilant about whom you choose to care for your child when you’re not there.

Don’t leave it till the last minute
As with everything in life, if you don’t get in early, you miss out on the best opportunities. But you also don’t want to limit your options by waiting until the last minute. Plan in advance, perhaps even before you need a sitter, and have someone organized for when you do.

Ask around
Word of mouth referrals from people you know and trust is one of the safest methods of choosing a baby sitter. You need to be able to trust a sitter with the life of your children and if they come highly recommended by someone else who has used their services, then they’re a pretty safe bet.

Interview potential sitters
It’s your job to ensure that any potential sitters are appropriate for your children. Arrange to interview candidates, invite them to your home and have a casual conversation so as to get to know her on a personal as well as a professional level. If you feel she may be suitable, introduce her to your child/ren and gauge the way they interact together. Kids are a great indicator and can sniff out insincerity at twenty paces. After she leaves, you can gently prompt the children for their instincts about her suitability.

Check references
Don’t feel that you’re going behind a baby sitter’s back by validating her references. That’s what references are for! You need to cross check with former employers regarding her capabilities, skills and personal traits.

Consider the baby sitter’s age
If you are entirely comfortable with charging your neighbor’s eighteen year old daughter with the responsibility of looking after your child/ren, then that’s up to you. However, you really should consider her maturity level and what you know about her own behavior before leaving her on her own. Try having her around to play with your kids in advance of granting her sole babysitting duties. Be advised that if your sitter is under the age of sixteen, you are legally responsible for anything that occurs in your absence.

First aid training
Baby sitters with first aid training are naturally highly regarded. At the very least, you should aim to find someone who can think logically and rationally in the event of an emergency.

Remember, your children are your most precious asset and nothing is more important than their safety and well-being. Be vigilant, be prepared and be responsible. Don’t cut costs on child care and always trust your instincts when selecting someone to look after your family in your absence.