Ask friends and neighbors for recommendations. Consider joining an online network such as Sitter City (sittercity.com) to browse available sitters (and nannies)—and access their references and background checks.
Prepare a contact sheet.
Include numbers for your cell phone, the family doctor, and all emergency care. Write down allergies and other important medical information.
Meet with candidates and ask about his or her qualifications, including any CPR or first-aid training. (American Red Cross branches offer babysitter’s training courses for $25 to $80.) Discuss the amount of money you’re offering.
Introduce candidates to your kids.
Make sure the relationship seems comfortable.
Always talk to your top candidate’s previous employers. Ask about his or her strengths and weaknesses.
Make an offer.
If you’re fully satisfied with the answers you get from the references, book the sitter.
Make up a set of keys.
Have an extra set of house keys for the sitter—just in case.
Set the rules.
List bedtimes, bath times, meal times, and any other routines. Discuss how you wish the sitter to handle discipline, in case a child misbehaves.
Make a list of security issues.
Detail the fire-escape route and what to do about answering the door or phone. Also make sure your sitter knows how to work the circuit breaker, fire extinguisher, alarm system, child safety locks, TV, and other important appliances in your house.