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Choosing a babysitter is a Big Deal: your child's safety depends on you making the right decision. These tips should make your selection process a little easier.

Most parents will leave their child with a babysitter at some point, and some kids are regularly in the care of a babysitter. Babysitters can have a very positive impact on children, creating memories of fun evenings filled with games and movies. They can also, in some cases, turn an otherwise safe and loving home into a living nightmare. Choosing the right babysitter can be a challenge, but these tips should point you in the right direction. 

When Can You Leave Your Child With A Babysitter?

New parents may ask when their child is old enough or ready to be left with a babysitter, but their is no one definite answer to this question and every parent will need to make this decision for themselves. Your decision will depend on your own gut feelings, your circumstances, and your wider approach to parenting. Some parents are comfortable leaving their child in the care of a babysitter practically right after they give birth, while others will wait months or even longer.

Mothers who are exclusively breastfeeding will deal with practical restrictions — babies who nurse on demand can't be left for very long at all during the newborn stage. Parents who don't breastfeed or whose babies drink pumped milk when they're not around have more leeway, because they don't have to worry about their baby's nutritional needs. 

Whenever you do decide to take that plunge, you can enjoy that baby-free time without guilt, as long as you are sure that your baby is in safe hands.

So how do you choose a safe, responsible babysitter? You'll want to look at several separate things:

  • Most importantly, you'll want to know that your child is safe with the person you choose.
  • Then, you'll want to examine the babysitter's childcare skills.
  • You will probably want a babysitter who is on the same parenting-philosophy wavelength. 
  • For older children who are able to express themselves verbally, you'll want a person your child likes. 

Why Choosing A Babysitter Is A Big Deal

Chances are that you've already seen "nannycam" videos of nannies and babysitters beating young children up. If you haven't, you're only a Google search away from extremely disturbing footage, some of which appeared in media outlets after these "carers" were charged. Sexual abuse is also a possibility any parent hiring a babysitter should consider. Parents who think this is so rare they don't need to worry about it should think again — statistics show that one in three girls and one in and one in five boys will have had sexual contact with an adult by the time they're 18. As a parent, you play an extremely powerful role in protecting your child from victimization. 

Then, there's a whole host of other concerns, like whether your babysitter uses drugs and alcohol on the job, steals from you, or is just clueless when it comes to childcare. 

Some parents are lucky enough to have people they already know well and trust completely — grandma, for instance — at their disposal. If you are one of them, you can stop reading now, because they don't have anything to worry about. For everyone else, big decisions lie ahead. 

"In our culture of short encounters and little accountability, it is important to learn a lot about someone you bring into your life, particularly someone who’ll be alone with your children," renowned child-safety expert Gavin de Becker points out.

Gone are the days in which most people lived their whole lives in a single community and someone's reputation meant something, in other words. In this relatively anonymous world, it is fairly easy for people to represent themselves as something they just aren't. Not having any connection with your potential babysitter's daily life, finding out what kind of person they really are can be tough. Thankfully, there are things you can do to reduce a candidate's anonymity.

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