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Where can I find a babysitter?
Start by asking other parents. Word of mouth is often the best way to get recommendations for local babysitters and check references at the same time. You can also try asking friends, neighbors, and relatives.
Just remember to always check references and take the time to interview the sitter in person. (Read questions to ask a potential babysitter.)
Online parenting communities and neighborhood groups that you belong to can also be a good source of candidates, especially if they have a dedicated area to connect parent and babysitters.
If you use social media to cast a wider net or post an ad online, as with any post or message, be careful about how much personal information you include.
If your child goes to daycare, a staff member may be available for additional work outside of business hours. Similarly, if your child attends preschool, a teacher might be willing babysit outside of school hours.
Alternatively, ask another parent to swap babysitting time with you.
What community resources provide babysitter referrals?
A babysitting agency is a good source of prescreened sitters, and agency employees are usually more experienced. The detailed background checks and additional experience can provide piece of mind, but you will pay a premium.
Some urban areas have a nonprofit childcare referral service. Check online to find out if such a service exists in your area.
Your local college or high school may have a student employment service that can post a notice for babysitting or provide candidates. Your local YMCA, community hospital, or American Red Cross chapter are also good places to call. They may keep a list of babysitters who have completed childcare safety training classes.
What about online babysitting services?
A number of other online services connect parents and potential sitters. Typically, you post a parent profile specifying what you're looking for. The companies also maintain databases of babysitters looking for employment, and you can often search by different criteria, including zip code, languages spoken, or hours available.
Allow enough time in your search to post your profile, screen responses, and check references.
Online babysitting services are less expensive than using an agency. Some are free, and others charge a fee that varies depending on how long you keep your listing active and the type of service you want.
They usually offer helpful guidelines and forms in addition to your listing and may also provide background checks (often for an additional fee). If you don't pay to have the service prescreen a candidate, be sure to do your own reference and background check.
How do I find a babysitter when we're away from home?
Large hotels and resorts often have a prescreened babysitting service available to their guests, so ask when you make reservations. Or check a local directory at your destination for a babysitting agency.
If you're visiting friends, let them know ahead of time that you'd like to hire a sitter while you're there, and have them ask around.