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There’s no denying that trusting someone else to watch your baby is hard. Choosing the right person, interviewing them, and then finally leaving them alone can be one of the most nerve-wracking things you’ll ever do as a parent
That’s why Care.com offers a portal for matching parents with just the right caregiver. Unfortunately, it’s not cheap. You often get what you pay for, and Care.com is definitely worth it, but some parents find that they simply don’t have it in their budget to pay for the membership while also paying for a caregiver and an expensive date night out.
Plus, there are a lot of things to think about when hiring a babysitter, and the entire process can be overwhelming, especially if you’ve never hired one before or you’ve never spent a lot of time away from your little one.
If you’re entertaining the idea of hiring a nanny but don’t want to use Care.com, read on to see top alternatives and make an informed decision!
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What to Look For When Hiring a Babysitter
If you’re a little apprehensive about hiring a babysitter, that’s totally normal. Here are some tips you can use to make sure you choose the right person for the job.
Consider Relevant Experience
You might pay a little more for experience, but hiring someone who knows what they’re doing is well worth the cost. See if they’ve been paid for any type of childcare before. Relevant experience could be as a teacher, camp counselor, or older sibling.
You don’t have to take the definition of babysitter very literal here. Caring, guiding, and watching over children in any capacity could count, as long as you’re comfortable with their knowledge and experience.
Talk About Education
In addition to experience, you could look for a candidate’s education. Some agencies only require a high school degree, but many parents prefer their babysitter be trained in early childhood education or some other type of professional certification.
If you want your babysitter or nanny to be responsible for educational tasks, this is a valuable consideration, but you’ll have to pay more for it.
Conducting an interview for your top candidate will give you a lot of insight into whether they’re the right choice for you or not. You can talk about past experience and education at this time, but you’ll also be able to see how they present themselves and how seriously they take the job.
Make sure you connect with them on parenting style and appropriate discipline techniques so you know you’re on the same page and that they’ll follow through appropriately. It’s important that the babysitter knows how to follow your lead while still taking charge in a situation where they’re the only adult.
Do a Background Check
If you’re going through a finding service, see if they conduct a background check. If they don’t, you need to run your own. It’s not very expensive, and you can guarantee that if they’ve ever been in trouble before, you’ll find it.
At a minimum, you should do a federal criminal check and a sex offender database check, but you could also consider a DMV check if you expect your babysitter to drive anywhere. You can do a credit check if you expect a nanny to handle any finances, and a drug test is also highly recommended.
Along with your interviewing and background checks, you’ll want to call some references. You can collect as many as makes you feel comfortable, but 3 is a good number. Don’t call family and friends. Make sure they’re all professional references like parents they’ve served before or a supervisor at the agency.
This is a great way to make sure the story your potential babysitter is telling you is correct, but it can also give you the encouragement you need to hire them if you were on the fence.
Check Emergency Responses
Find out if your prospective babysitter has any first aid training or certifications. Pediatric CPR is something every childcare provider should know, so you are justified in making it a requirement.
Trust Your Gut
Moms have instincts, so if you don’t feel good about someone, no matter what their resume says, don’t hire them. Other red flags are no previous experience, inconsistent stories from references, or lack of timely communication.
Have a Trial Day
There’s nothing wrong with hiring a sitter for a few hours while you get some work done around the house. This gives you the opportunity to see how they interact or get along with your child while you’re still around.
You’ll be able to see if the sitter is a good fit, put your mind at ease, and give the sitter an opportunity to ask you questions before you leave them alone.
Use a Good Agency
Using an agency can help you vet potential candidates before you hire them. It can get pricey running your own background checks and it’s time-consuming to set up a lot of interviews. A service will allow you to scroll through the candidates, filter them based on your qualifications, and immediately select the top contenders.
These services will also facilitate communication, set up a terms agreement, and often have some sort of guarantee that will make you feel more comfortable.
The Best Agencies for Finding Childcare
The good news is that there are quite a few options. Some are completely free, while others may cost money, but every site offers a few different services that may be worth your while.
SitterCity has been pairing parents with childcare providers for 20 years, and it’s free to sign up. You can download the smartphone app or use it online to find the perfect fit. They also offer background checks.
However, with SitterCity, you’ll also have access to pet sitters, dog walkers, senior caregivers, full-time nannies, and other types of home care. If you need more than babysitting, you can use this alternative to find just about anything.
You can browse local sitters or you can create a profile, indicating what you’re looking for, and qualified sitters can reach out if interested.
The free plan gives you partial access to sitter profiles and some job posting abilities, but here are also paid plans that give you access to additional features.
- Smartphone app
- Background checks included
- Other services outside of babysitting
- The free plan is limited
Bambino also connects parents to local qualified sitters, performs background checks, and has a smartphone app so you have access to it at any time. However, the truly unique thing about Bambino is the time tracking ability.
The time tracker starts at your booking time, which is also recorded on the app, then you can stop it manually when the job ends and pay the sitter whatever rate you agreed upon through the app.
The app also uses Facebook to connect you to sitters who your friends have already recommended, giving you an extra level of trust. It’s also easy to sign up through the app and get started because it’s free.
- Time tracking and payment abilities
- Uses Facebook to connect with friend recommendations
- Smartphone app
- Can’t use through the website
SittingAround approaches quality child care from a whole new perspective. Rather than paying for a sitter you don’t know and stressing about the experience, SittingAround connects you with other parents in your area.
Every parent in the co-op is willing to exchange babysitting for babysitting, rather than cash. That means you save money and get someone who already knows how to take care of children, because they have their own. Your children may even make some new friends.
SittingAround offers a free 60-day trial and it’s really affordable. You can pay monthly or for an entire year upfront and you’ll get access to co-ops near you.
- Access to experienced parents
- Exchange babysitting for babysitting rather than cash
- Limited co-ops in rural areas
UrbanSitter comes with a monthly fee, and it’s very similar in structure to Care.com. You can find, book, and pay babysitters in your area, but you can also connect to Facebook for insight into who has used the sitters you like before.
You can read babysitter reviews and get good recommendations from other parents. They also have smartphone apps so you can use it on the run. You can typically even book last-minute jobs because of a large network of caregivers.
It’s also helpful when you post reviews about your experience with caregivers in the app, so other parents can make educated decisions.
- Find, book, and pay from the app
- Smartphone apps
- Connect to Facebook for reviews and recommendations
- Book last minute jobs
- Monthly fee
All caregivers on Helpr have at least two years of experience and are certified in CPR. This definitely puts your mind at ease, especially when needing to hire someone you don’t know with as little notice as three hours.
You’ll only pay for the hours you book, so you don’t have to pay a monthly fee, but the service is only available in select cities.
However, you can also connect to remote learning opportunities rather than hiring an in-person sitter, so you can keep your child engaged at times when you need to focus on work or clean up the house.
- Babysitting and remote learning options
- All sitters trained in CPR with two years experience
- Only available in select cities
- No smartphone app
Sitter takes another unique approach to babysitting, allowing you to create a trusted network of parents and babysitters, so you can share experienced babysitting with your friends. All you have to do to get a sitter is send a message to your trusted network and wait for a response.
You can find new sitters based on recommendations from friends, and when you send out a message, all sitters will get a notification, even if they don’t use the app.
You can also search Sitter’s directory for caregivers. If you like them, you can shortlist your favorites and add them to your trusted network for easy hiring again.
The app also includes the ability to post jobs to the board to get responses from qualified sitters. Once you hire someone, you can use time clock, calculator, and payment capabilities, so you don’t have to argue over how much you should actually pay.
Sitter also has nannies, a directory of daycares, early childhood educators, and live-in nannies for people who are looking for those kinds of services.
- Create trusted networks
- Get recommendations from friends
- Find childcare quickly and easily
- Smartphone apps
- Requires a monthly or yearly subscription
Bubble is like Sitter, only free. You can connect to the babysitters your friends recommend or tap into available sitters who might already be in your phone contacts. You can also link it to Facebook and find sitters you may already know.
Everyone goes through a background check, but Bubble includes a feature that allows you to ask a friend to vouch for a particular sitter if you’re interested. Sitters even have profile videos to help you get to know them better.
Creating a Bubble is like creating your trusted community of sitters and recommending them to your friends. There’s also a secure in-app payment option for haggle-free compensation.
- Connect with sitters you already know
- Get recommendations from friends
- In-app payments
- Smartphone apps
- Can’t use on the web
Let’s pretend you have childcare under wraps. You’re good to go with a fantastic babysitter who’s always available, or you simply have no intention of ever leaving your kids with a stranger. Great!
But don’t you still have errands to run, laundry to do, and dinner to cook? Like most parents, you’re probably overwhelmed with everything that needs to get done and you simply don’t have time to do it.
Rather than using this Care.com alternative to find a babysitter, use it for chores around the house. TaskRabbit will connect you with people in your area who don’t have a problem running your errands or doing your dirty laundry so that you can spend more quality time with your kids.
Plus, having someone do odd jobs around the house is likely a whole lot cheaper than hiring a babysitter. People on the app have a wider range of prices than other babysitting sites, and the expert you’ll hire has already been vetted. Every job is also insured.
- Vetted experts and insured jobs
- Wide range of prices
- Great for errands and chores
- Doesn’t offer babysitting
Answer: Like any site that offers connections to babysitters, it can be worth it if you use it right. They offer a lot of talent, but there are only a few ways in which it’s a good investment.
If you’re looking for a regular sitter, you can pay for a subscription and look fervently for a sitter you like. Once you find one, cancel and you’ll hopefully have a full-time sitter you can trust.
If you’re always needing a sitter at the last minute, it may be worth the cost to sign up for something that will take the stress out of finding a sitter with very little notice.
If you rarely hire sitters or you typically have plenty of notice when you need one, it’s probably not worth it to pay very much for a monthly subscription.
Answer: There are always scammers, especially on job posting sites. That’s why it’s important to notify the site if you encounter a scam, no matter which site you use. It’s also very important to interview your potential caregivers in advance, to weed out any scams.
Answer: There are plenty of ways to find great childcare. You can ask friends for referrals, look for a local church group or mom’s day out program, or use any of these online apps to connect with a qualified candidate.
These apps aren’t always right for everyone, but if you do have a sitter you love, you should share them. Many moms frantically search for good sitters they can trust, and that’s why several of these apps allow you to create your own personal network of parents and sitters.
Answer: The great thing about using an app to help you find a sitter is that there will be no question about how much you need to pay them at the end of their shift. Many parents wonder how much they should pay, but these sitters will have already requested their desired amount, you can agree on it ahead of time, and then pay them through the app.
Take the stress out of finding the right sitter for your family and use these tips to help. Any of these apps will be useful if you find one that has the capabilities you need. Even if it costs money, you can cancel it when you find the right sitter for you.
My personal favorite are the apps like Bubble and Sitter that allow you to create your own network of contacts and share them. While SittingAround’s co-op idea is fantastic, it’s not available everywhere, and you can replicate this idea pretty easily on your own if you talk to other parents in your neighborhood.
No matter which way you go, any of these services will be a worthwhile choice for finding a sitter you can trust.