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Your Babysitter Options

The Babysitting Guide: Your Babysitting Options
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The best babysitter for you is one who fits your needs and your budget and who has a decent level of experience. You’ll also want someone who meshes with your personality and parenting style. To find the best sitter for the job, you might need to explore different types of babysitters who provide the services you want. But first, it helps to get really specific on what you’re looking for in a sitter.

Check out these five babysitter types to help you narrow your search down:

High School Sitters

High school-aged sitters are a good option for families that need after school care or summer babysitting (assuming the teen is available when you need her). You can find someone who lives close or even attends school near your children for easy pick-ups.

Many parents worry that teen sitters don’t have a lot of experience, but that often comes with a lower hourly rate. To reduce your anxiety, you can try the first few babysitting sessions while you're at home so you can provide feedback and answer any questions.

>> MORE: 10 Reasons to Hire a Teen Babysitter

College Sitters

College babysitters are a good option for after school or summer care, as well. They are often slightly more mature and experienced, which is important to many parents. Just be sure to ask up front about their availability during the school year. Ask her to inform you of “blackout dates” where she’s not available, too, like exam periods or holidays. Also ask if she takes evening/weekend classes that interfere with your needs.

The best part about college babysitters is you can often find a few who are studying for a degree in Early Childhood Development or Education. This makes them a great asset to your family -- and great tutors, too!

>> MORE: 10 Reasons to Hire a College Babysitter

“Mature” Sitters

Older babysitters could account for any adult babysitter, from professional child caregivers to older women who have grown children or grandchildren. Daycare and elementary school teachers are often interested in extra babysitting, too, and come with great child care and child development experience.

If experience and skillset are most important to you, start looking for adult babysitters with more than a few years’ experience. They may charge more per hour but are often comparable to less-experienced sitters.

Family Members or Trustworthy Neighbors

Family and neighbors are great resources for babysitting, especially if you need someone last minute or “free.” Given the familiarity factor, your kids will already be comfortable with them and they’ll be excited to step in for a few hours or an evening. Beggars can’t always be choosers, but make sure you trust the person you ask to babysit. Also be sure to set expectations and guidelines the same way you would with a hired sitter. It paves the way for managing the relationship should any issues arise.

NOTE: Even if you think they won’t charge, do not ask someone to watch your children without expecting to pay them for their time. If they want to babysit for free, consider having dinner ready (or cash on-hand for a food delivery order) or gift them a nice bottle of wine or bag of goodies. You can also offer to return the favor, asking when you can babysit their own children.

Mother's Helpers

Mother's helpers are usually in middle school or junior high. Considered a "babysitter in training," a mother's helper does just that -- helps you. They're babysitters who are generally considered too young to care for children on their own, but old enough to responsibly play with children while you're busy (yet present). 

In many cases, they're known to the family (the parents may be family friends) and live in the neighborhood. It's a nice opportunity for a young person who wants to gain experience and then try their hand at babysitting once they're old enough. Mother's helpers can do a variety of tasks from playing with the kids while you make dinner, to helping fold laundry, assisting at a birthday party, or more.

>> MORE: What Is a Mother's Helper?

Find Babysitters of All Ages and Experience Levels

By now, you hopefully you have a better idea of the type of babysitter that is best for your family. When you start your search, you can pick potential sitters based on their experience, rates, education, or even by their location. Now it’s time to find potential candidates and start interviewing them!

>> MORE: What I Wish I’d Known: Hiring a Babysitter Using Care.com

Christine Koh is a music and brain scientist turned parent and writer about parenting issues for Care.com. She is also the editor of BostonMamas.com.

June 6, 2014

I believe that all ages should be able to sign up because I am eleven and I babysit quite often with respect and maturity. My friends and I are even starting a new business called Rock-A-Bye baby sitters that is made up of ages eleven to fifteen. I am just commenting because I think that you should change the age limit from eighteen to something along the lines of twelve.

March 22, 2013

Im a new mom at the young age of 42, I lost my mom to C.O.P.D. and am going crazy,I NEED HELP. A huge problem is im pentacostal, I No. Not Married, Hate my name, But losing her was Sooo Unexpected. I loved my mom and The problem is my caller, My medical needs have changed Im diabetic. C.P.S. has been involved in the past, But My caller Wellllllllll........... 10,000 isnt much to pay, Im very wealthy, But My Life seems so complicated, Just who do you look for in a nanny, I need someone in there 50s, Mature, Well educated like me , Religious, Caring, Kind, Nurses and is clean, Showers daily and loves fashion, My career goal was Hollywood Superstar, But my injury Wellllllll....... Im A Bit disabled. Thats why the extra help. This boy of myne is the greatest, Im not sure who the father is but at my age who cares, Hes Myne Thats all that counts, And i love him. God Bless The Mothers who desighned this sight Dang, Theres hope for us yet.

Jan. 2, 2013

Hi Jasmine and Shauna, Thanks so much for you interest but unfortunately you do need to be over 18 to sign up for the site. Hope to see you in a few years!

Dec. 27, 2012

Can a 13 year old sign up for this site?

July 27, 2012

can a 14 year old sign up for this site?

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