Essential Questions to Ask a Potential Babysitter

Woman giving her daughter to nanny

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Before you choose your child's babysitter, consider asking any/all of these important and relevant questions. Just as with a childcare center, the answers provided should make you feel comfortable and confident leaving your youngster(s) in their care. After the interview, don't forget to check references before you hire someone.

Top Questions to Ask a Babysitter

  • Are you trained in CPR?
  • Do you drive?
  • Do you have references who can vouch for your experience and skills?
  • What are your cooking and cleaning skills?
  • What are your strengths as a babysitter?
  • What are your weaknesses as a babysitter?
  • What do you like about working with kids?
  • What is your babysitting or other relevant work experience?
  • What would you do in case of an emergency?
  • Why should I hire you as a babysitter?

Questions to Ask a Prospective Babysitter

When interviewing possible babysitters, there are a multitude of questions to ask. You'll want to ask about general qualifications and anything pertaining to specific needs for your family, such as the ability to drive, help with homework, cook, or speak another language. Additionally, ask anything that feels important to you. However, consider the following questions to get you started.

Babysitting Experience and Skills

Of course, it's crucial to ask about their specific qualifications as a babysitter. Try variations on the following questions:

"Have you babysat previously? If so, please describe your experience, including the ages and number of children you have experience babysitting."

"Do you regularly work/volunteer with kids? If so, please describe, such as helping out with youth dance classes, serving as a sports assistant, etc."

"Do you know how to prepare a simple meal? Do you know how to feed an infant and/or a toddler? Do you know what to do if a child chokes?" You want to hear that the sitter is knowledgeable about safety considerations like not propping a bottle up or heating it in the microwave, or feeding a youngster whole grapes, for example.

Do you know how to change a diaper and are you comfortable with changing even the really messy ones? How about assisting with potty training?"

Health and Safety

It's also important to go over issues related to health and safety.

"Have you received any specialized training in childcare such as first aid/CPR, attended a babysitter course, or taken related school courses?"

"Do you know how to administer medicine?" If your child has a cold, for example, and needs medicine, you want to make sure the babysitter is comfortable giving the proper dosage.

"Do you know what to do in case of emergency, such as calling poison control or 911, or what to do in a natural disaster?"

"Are your immunizations current? Do you have any health restrictions that could affect your ability to babysit?"

For example, if you have three cats and the candidate is terribly allergic to cats, that could be a problem. Or, if you have someone who can't access stairs but the kids' beds are on the second floor, you need to know that before making a hiring decision.

"Is there an adult or family member nearby in the event of an emergency whom you could contact?" This question is relevant if you are considering using a young teenager or a person who does not drive.

"Are you comfortable being in my home at night or for an extended period?" Some people get nervous about being in someone else's home after dark, for example.

Finding the Right Fit

You'll also want to determine if a potential babysitter is a good fit for your family. Aim to ask questions that reveal a bit about the person's personality, interests, and temperament.

"Why do you enjoy working with children? What activities will you plan with my kid(s) when I am gone?" Ask this question to determine whether the potential babysitter plans any games, crafts, or child-friendly activities in your absence.

"What age group do you most enjoy? Least enjoy? Why? Which age group are you most comfortable/experienced with?"

"What is your overall childcare philosophy? What level of engagement with the children can I expect? Will you be using your phone for personal reasons while babysitting?"

"What qualities do you have that should make me want to hire you?" A good babysitter may talk about kid activities or art projects already planned, fun and games, a strong sense of humor, etc.

"What was your worst babysitting experience, and why?" See how the candidate worked through the problem.

Handling Discipline

It's also key to go over how they approach discipline. Tailor your questions to fit your family and the parenting style you use, for example:

"What will you do if the kids aren't getting along or fighting? How do you handle separation anxiety?" Ask these questions if the potential babysitter will care for more than one child and if your children are likely to get upset when you leave.

"What will you do if my child won't listen to you or exhibits bad behavior such as biting?" This is an insightful question to determine how the potential babysitter processes the question and provides you with an answer. It also provides insight into disciplinary approaches.

"Under what type of situation would you call me?" Ask this to determine how a potential babysitter would rank a "need" or emergency.

Pay and Availability

You'll also want to talk about the basics like pay expectations, availability, and references.

"What is your hourly rate of pay? What hours and days of the week are you available to work?" Ask if there are any particular times/dates a potential sitter cannot work. Also, ask about what they will do if a conflict comes up or they are sick. Additionally, it's important to talk about what their thoughts are on taking care of a sick child if that is a type of care you may need.

"What type of commitment will you provide me that you will honor our agreement to babysit and not cancel?" This question is particularly important if you are hiring a sitter for when you'll be working or for key holidays or busy times such as New Year's Eve.

"Do you have a list of references? What can I do as a parent to help make your babysitting experience with my kids a success?" If you have not already spoken with someone about the babysitter beforehand, be sure you call and talk with references before entrusting anyone to care for your child.

2 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Academy of Pediatrics. Choosing a childcare center.

  2. Sege RD, Siegel BS. Effective discipline to raise healthy children. Pediatrics. 2018;142(6):e20183112. doi:10.1542/peds.2018-3112

By Robin McClure
 Robin McClure is a public school administrator and author of 6 parenting books.