Choosing a First Babysitter

By Beth Weinhouse

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Leaving a baby with a sitter for the first time has to rank up there as one of the scariest experiences for new parents. It would be different if your baby could say, "Hey Mom, this new lady is really fun!" Or, "I don't really like this new babysitter. She doesn't pick me up right away when I cry."

I was hoping to wait until my son could say something like that before ever leaving him with a sitter, but my husband had other ideas. After several months of our new baby life without child care, my husband was starting to chafe at the social isolation. (And yes, I admit it, so was I.) But we had just moved to a new town where we didn't know anyone yet, so we didn't have any babysitter recommendations. So my husband started perusing the childcare ads in the local paper.

And then our first applicant came for her interview. She was a little older than me, very warm and friendly. She told us about her own three children, and she was obviously immensely proud of them. She picked up my baby and had him smiling instantly. I called her references, who raved about her. And so we hired the very first person we picked at random from the local paper. And never regretted it.

It was true my son couldn't talk yet, but he could very clearly communicate how he felt about his new babysitter. As soon as she walked in the door he started smiling and reaching his arms out to her. Did I feel jealous? Not one bit. I felt incredibly relieved, and glad that my son was happy while my husband and I were out. Our very first babysitter turned out to be one of our best, and all of us were sad to say good-bye when we moved again.

When you're hiring a babysitter you can -- and should -- read tips from expert sources. But you should also listen to your own instincts, and pay attention to your baby, who will let you know how he feels about this new person in his life without saying a word.

Beth Weinhouse is an award-winning journalist who specializes in writing about parenting issues and women's health. She's been an editor at Ladies' Home Journal and Parenting magazines, and her work has appeared in dozens of consumer magazines and websites.
Our parenting advice is given as suggestions only. We recommend you also consult your healthcare provider, and urge you to contact them immediately if your question is urgent or about a medical condition.