A Question About Getting a Babysitter?

Updated on June 12, 2010
D.W. asks from Nashville, TN
17 answers

Hi Mommas!

My husband and I have decided that we want to take one night a month (Saturday night) to do something as a couple, not as parents. We only have one family member that currently watches our 8 month old daughter for us and it is VERY rarely. I was thinking of asking around our subdivision about a 14 or 15 year old that could come to our home on this night.
We would put our daughter to bed at 8:00 and the sitter would come after she is in bed. The sitter would be there unitl about 1 or 2 in the morning. At that time we would drive them home.
Once our daughter is asleep she doesn't wake up, so pretty much the sitter wouldn't have to do anything but sit int he home in case she does wake up.
Does this sound okay? Should I be worried about having someone we won't know well come in our home (even though they would live close to us)-do any of you others do this?
And how much would I pay someone for 5 or 6 hours and them probably not even have contact with the baby (more than likely)?

I'm just trying to get ideas because we do not have help when it comes to our daughter (no one to just drop her off with whenever like some other parents in my area do) so this would be our first experience with a sitter.

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answers from Seattle on

We do this with college students. They get a a quiet place to study (since kiddo is in bed), and $20 and pizza... we get a night out. Win Win situation.

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answers from New York on

this is just me but i wouldn't leave an 8 month old with a teenager, even an early twenty something girl.
i also think you won't be relaxed to enjoy the evening out. unless you have family members (mature, older, responsible) willing to babysit, i would sit out this idea for a few months, until your daughter is old enough, verbal enough to communicate with you.
then again i have 6 yrs olds and i still don't get babysitters. i just don't trust people with my kids.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

I would personally be more comfortable with an older person, maybe a Grandmother. But, I would not have anyone I didn't know VERY well babysit, even while baby is sleeping. I knew a girl when we were 15 years old who would have her friends over while she babysat. When the parents would come home, the friends would go out the back door. The mom found several open and half drunk cans of soda around the living room, which should have been a red flag. However, she just chalked it up to the babysitter being flighty and forgetting to finish a drink before openning another one. I totally understand that you guys need to get out without your daughter! And, it sounds like a great plan, to put her to sleep first. However, I am would be extremely cautious about who you leave in charge while you're out. Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

First of all, good for you for doing date nite!!! :) (Sorry I forgot to say that originally)

I will add some thoughts to the already good advice:
1. Your baby should be familiar with the sitter in case she wakes up so she won't be scared. I would have the sitter come over once or twice to play etc and build a relationship.

2. I would hire someone older and experienced with babies. Maybe a local grandmother looking for some extra money.

3. I would find someone word of mouth. All our sitters came from people so I know they are trustworthy.

4. First time out -- go out just 2-3 hours just to ensure things go Ok. Next time, 4 hours, next time, 6 hours.


2 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

Um, I would not hire a child that is 14-15 years old.
Also, I am sure that their parent would not want them coming home at 1-2:00 in the morning.

Next, no, I would NOT want someone in my home that I do not know well.
Nor a teenager..... or with my baby.
But that is just me... I know there are great "good" teens, who are responsible. Our friends have kids like that. But still, I would not want them to babysit, if I had a baby.
AND, if this Teenager Babysitter were at my home, by herself at night, babysitting... what if a stranger comes knocking on the door? Or someone who knows that only a Teen is there, with a baby and no supervising adult????

Next, you NEED to background check ANYONE who is going to babysit your child or house-sit in your home.

Next, you don't gauge the type of babysitter/quality of care, nor their payment, based on the time of night and that they will not have contact with the baby, just because it is sleep time for the baby. They STILL have to know how to care for a baby... and what to do if there is an emergency.... etc.
Some babysitters, charge MORE for night-time care.

all the best,

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Kudos for thinking about date night. We have been together 25 yrs and it has always been a top priority and rarely missed on a weekly basis.

When our daughter was newborn until about 2 we used a sitter service and found a wonderful grandmotherly type woman who came to watch her weekly. We paid her anywhere from $60-$80 each time she came, depending on how long we were gone, etc.

Around 2, I met a wonderful family in the neighborhood through our neighborhood secured website that had names of teens with experience and training who wanted to babysit. This family had 4 girls. We started with the oldest and she came weekly until she went to college and we followed through with the same family for years.

As a baseline, we guaranteed $40 because they saved the night for us. THEN, we paid $10 an hour. Our date nights were $60-$80 a week.

Right now, with daughter being 15, we are saving some $$ on date night but you can't put a price on the value of having date night and being a couple. Date nights don't have to be pricey, sometimes we did go all out for concerts, sporting events, great restaurants, etc but we also did little things as well, walking through the mall, dancing, etc.

Like you, we have no family around and it was vital to find someone relliable and trustworthy. It can be done.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I was a sitter starting when I was 11 with family (nieces & nephews) and then by the time I was 14 I had 3 families I sat for. Whether you have a teen from church or from the division, I would get familiar with her first. I always met with the family a couple of times so the child could get to know me and the parents were comfortable. Plus it helped that I was recommended by a guy with the neighborhood assoc. Even if you put the baby to sleep before she got there, it would be better to know the baby was familiar. Maybe have the sitter come a few times during the day to sit while you are home taking care of other things. This would let you see how she interacts with the baby. And set rules for the house.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Toledo on

Ask the Red Cross (they do sitter classes), or if you go to church, ask someone there. I was babysitting 4 kids, including a toddler when I was 13, and there were no problems. (Olden days.) 14 is old enough to trust, and she would love the money. Get acquainted with the mom, leave your number and emergency numbers, and have a good time. There's a website called "sittercity", you might check them out. $5.00 an hour is plenty for 1 baby.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Killeen on

I think hiring the teen is a good idea, but you should NOT put the baby to bed before you leave. What if she did wake and some strange girl came to get her! Also, the teen should at least have some interaction first with her so she at least knows the baby a little. I would suggest having her come over an hour before you plan to leave and then then could meet, then you could put the baby to bed while she is there.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I think it sounds like a great idea. You two need some time to yourselves to be husband and wife. I have babysitters that I call for my kids and my babysitters are teenagers. One I met when she was co-coaching a soccer team with her mom, we met at the coaches meeting at the beginning of the season. Another I met at my "Homeschool Gym" group that meets once a week to let all of the kids play together.

Many teenage girls are taking infant and child CPR classes, first aid classes and child development classes in order to be more marketable as babysitters. I know I did when I was younger. I was 11 when I started babysitting and I was walking home (two houses over in a cul-de-sac :) after midnight on the nights I was babysitting. I don't think there's anything wrong with it as long as you know the parents and interview them and the babysitter thoroughly. In fact I chose one of my babysitters because her parents interviewed ME to make sure that it was a good situation for HER. They are very caring and conscientious people and I knew that they were available to her if she needed any help and we were out of town (our "town" is very rural so seeing a movie means going to the next town over). I wouldn't hire an 11yo to babysit an infant, but a 14-15yo would be plenty old enough.

However, I would make sure that the proposed babysitter comes around during the daytime for a while to get to know the baby. You don't want your little one waking up in the middle of the night and only getting the attention of someone that is basically a stranger to her. She should know the babysitter before you try this. Summer is here, so consider having any prospects over as a "mother's helper" once a week for a month or two before you hire them as a night-time babysitter. Of course, pay them for their time during the day too.

Go to your church and ask for information on homeschooling groups and ask if you can have the pastor give your contact information to anyone from one of these groups that might be interested in babysitting for you. I'm always advocating for homeschooling on this site, so I'm sure the other mamas are sick of hearing it by now, but homeschoolers aren't like government school kids. Most homeschooled girls of that age have real experience with younger children because they have been helping their mothers with younger siblings on a daily basis for years. And they're generally more mature than government school children because they are living their daily lives in the real world instead of closed up in an institution and segregated by age groups all day (which is an artificial environment in which children are basically raised by their peers instead of competent adult authority figures).

Anyways, that's the best advice I can offer. I hope you get lots of useful suggestions.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

That sounds like a REALLY good idea :) Even a 13 yr old, if their parents don't mind them coming home that late, is a great idea. Plus, it is good to train someone in during sleeping hours to start just in case something would come up and you need him or her during the day.

I would actually start with a 13 yr old - it is nice if you can find someone who will actually be interested in sitting for your family for a few years. Most kids seem to stop sitting around 15/16 when then can get a "real" job, have a boyfriend, drive, etc. If you start someone at 13, they could be with you for awhile, which has so many positives.

As far as pay goes, that is going to be somewhat age dependent and also the area that you live in. Rather than pay by the hour to start, maybe pay by the "job." For a 13 yr old, for 6 hrs of baby sleeping, maybe start at $30 for the evening, a pizza and a dvd to watch.

Finally, make sure that whoever you do hire, you have around the baby a few times during the day before leaving them for an evening. Nothing will startle your child more than waking up and finding a stranger at the crib holding out their arms :)

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

You've gotten some really good advice and I wanted to add in one more idea. Our regular baby sitter is actually an older (and when I say older I mean 8-9 older than me) woman who I work with. She has three teenagers (one or the other of the younger two usually come with her and watch movies at our house) and it works out really well for everyone involved because we have a reliable baby sitter and she gets extra cash for whatever. I mention it because it took me forever to make the connection and she was right there the whole time.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Denver on

We asked around the neighborhood and I tried to think of people we knew who either had teens or had used babysitters and asked for recommendations.

We used some of the kids we knew from Church as well. Since they won't really have much contact with the baby, you can probably get away with $5/hr.

You could do a trial run --only be gone for a couple of hours the first time - go to dinner and come home. It might make you more comfortable.

God Bless-

1 mom found this helpful


answers from St. Cloud on

I would ask some moms for babysitter references and your local pastor! If they come recommended by someone you can trust, I wouldn't be worried.

As for pay. You will still have to pay a normal rate whether the child will be sleeping or awake. The babysitter is still giving up their evening. Ask a neighbor what the going rate is in your community. It is anywhere from $3 to $6 an hour per kid where I live....... (The more kids you have, the better "deal" the parent can get. No babysitter will want to give up 5 hours of their Sat. evening for $10........) You will have to pay a fair rate if you want the babysitter to be willing to come back.

I started babysitting when I was 11. Now that I'm a mother I personally wouldn't have a babysitter THAT young, UNLESS I knew them and knew that I could trust them. However a 14 or 15 year old and up would be fine by my opinion.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

We went to our church's youth group leader and she pointed us in the direction of the most responsible babysitters. I recommend going this route if you dont have friends to recommend someone.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

We have used several responsible teen babysitters for my son. When I was a kid, I started babysitting at age 12. Now, many girls take a babysitting/first aid/safety course through Girl Scouts or the YMCA, or even their schools.

I would start by asking other mothers if they have the number of a responsible sitter. I would try to find one that has some experience sitting with a baby and not just elementary-age children. Asking other moms, your church, etc. is a great way to find a reliable young person with good references. This should also put to rest your worries about letting a stranger into your home.

Ideally this will be a kid (boy or girl- my brother also did a lot of babysitting when we were younger!) who is local to your neighborhood, recommended by other moms or the church Youth Group, etc. who has experience with watching a baby AND whose parents will also be home and close by.
(When I was a girl and one of my babysitting charges climbed onto the garage roof and refused to come down to me - what a stinker!- I was really glad I could call my mom for backup!)

Seriously, I don't think you should worry about leaving the baby home with a responsible teen sitter, especially if the baby will likely sleep the whole time. Just make sure you have a bottle prepared and instructions for what you would like the sitter to do if your baby wakes up (feed her, don't feed her, walk her, put her back down, etc.) and make sure the sitter knows how to change diapers and where the clean onesies are!

As for pay, ask other moms in your area what the going rate is. Usually it is higher if there is more than one child to watch, but I am betting you will pay around $5 per hour.

I know a lot of people will tell you horror stories about coming home to find the baby crying and a drunk teen fooling around on the sofa with her boyfriend- but in my experience, NOTHING like that has EVER happened. One of our sitters even watches out for our house and walks our dogs and collects our mail for us when we go on vacation now- when she graduates, I don't know what we'll do!

The key is to establish a relationship with your sitter and her family. Ask to meet her mom and have the sitter and a parent over to the house to meet the baby and show the sitter around before you go out. If you set this up the right way, you will have peace of mind and your child will have another support person in their life as they grow up.

Don't worry- this is a big first step, but after you do it once, you will be so glad you did! Remember, your little one is going to be around a long time and you and daddy are going to NEED some nights out! I really have had great luck with babysitters, finding them just how I described above and I am sure you will too! Have a fun night out and don't fret!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

I started babysitting when I was 11 and quit around 15/16. I don't recall any of my classmates continuing to babysit beyond 16 because we got real jobs that paid more and had our own dates on Saturday nights. I suppose I did sit a few times a year around the holidays for old clients until I went to college. New Years Eve was a major money earner!

When I was 11 my parents did not let me sit past midnight, you may have trouble getting a sitter until 1 or 2 am unless they are a very close neighbor. Lunch and a matinee on a Saturday might be a cheaper way to test out a sitter and gradually move to early evening events. I had taken infant CPR/safety certification before I started babysitting and you should definitely require a copy.

I think most of my clients found me via word of mouth in the neighborhood park/school/church but the first few knew I had a baby brother. Look for kids who are responsible for their younger siblings, they will love to work for you because they already know the job, they will just be getting paid for it now!

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