BabysittersI was recently on WCCO-TV talking about “What Age is it OK to Start Babysitting?” and thought I’d share some tips with you here. (You can also view the WCCO-TV “Good Question” interview here if you like: http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2014/06/17/good-question-what-age-is-it-ok-to-start-babysitting/)

Summer is a perfect time for you to plan a date with your honey or hang out with your friends since baby-sitters are more readily available. If you’ve been looking to get out more often, here are a few things to keep in mind when hiring a baby-sitter.

Look for these 3 qualities in a babysitter:

1)    Safety Training- The Red Cross has an online training program and an in-person training for kids 11 and older. This is a good starting point to give kids the basics of kid care. You may also want to see if they’ve had basic first aid training. You can also do a background check if you wish.
In addition, when you interview the potential baby-sitter you can ask them hypothetical safety questions like: What would you do if my child had a deep cut on their chin? What would you do if the pot on the stove started on fire? What would you do if someone rings the doorbell while you’re babysitting? What would you do if my child won’t stop crying?

2)    Experience and Skills- Certainly it helps if your baby-sitter has some experience. You should ask what age children s/he has watched and what responsibilities s/he had? Can they make basic meals, change diapers, put kids down to bed? Also check their references.

3)    Personality- You want to make sure that they really like kids, have patience, can think on their feet, are fun, and creative. A great thing to do after you interview them is to have them return and watch your children when you’re home.  Quietly observe how they interact with your kids and if your kids feel comfortable with them. Your child will also feel more comfortable with the potential sitter if they’ve spent more time together before you leave them alone.

Although some kids start baby-sitting as young as 10 or 11, I would recommend 8th graders or high school kids as a rule, but maturity levels can vary and it depends how long you will be leaving your kids with the sitter.

Here’s a link to a great handout from www.sittercity.com listing information you should provide a sitter with:  https://s3.amazonaws.com/empire-cdn/assets/Sittercity+-+Babysitter+Cheat+Sheet.pdf

Good luck! And I do have two teens who babysit if you live close!

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