Childcare

Where to find a good babysitter?

Finding a babysitter doesn’t have to be such a hardship. Several solutions are available to you: references, ads, online babysitter selection services or traditional placement agencies. 

The choice of a babysitter or nanny is an important decision for any parent: you will entrust her with your most precious possession - your children.

We reviewed the pros and cons of each of these solutions to help you find the one that works best for you.

What are the criteria on which to base your choice of a method for finding a babysitter? The most important elements are the choice of candidates, the quality of applicants, the response time, the cost and your level of implication in the selection process.

Your Network

By network, we mean your friends and family, neighbours, colleagues or other parents. What are the advantages of using your network? It significantly shortens the search process since you’re asking people that you already know and getting immediate references. Usually, this solution is also free. However, it has few disadvantages. First, success is not guaranteed: what you seek in a sitter is not necessarily what your friends seek. Then, if you share a sitter with friends, it can create tensions. Finally,one reference is not enough to be sure about the sitter. You must therefore do your own screening (references, criminal background check, etc.).

Traditional ads

These are the ads placed in local newspapers, community centers, schools, etc. The advantages of this approach are that the applicants come from your community and that the costs of putting an ad are negligible or nonexistent. Among the disadvantages of this option are the time and effort required. The time to write the ad and put it in the suitable places, and the time to receive answers and sift through them. There’s also no screening: everyone can apply, so you’ll have to check all the references yourself. Also note that writing an ad that attracts the right candidates is no easy task, and that changing the ad after it is published is almost impossible.

Online ads

There are many classified ads websites where you can place an ad for a nanny or babysitter. Among the pros of this option: publishing the ad is fast, you can easily update it at any time and the response time is almost immediate because of the sheer number of people accessing these sites. In addition, it is free or involves a very small cost. However, the disadvantages are that applicants won’t necessarily come from your community, you will still need to do all the screening yourself and, as for traditional ads, you’ll need to write a good ad to attract the right candidates.

Online babysitter selection services

Online babysitter selection services provide detailed profiles of child care providers for parents to choose from and contact directly. This method has multiple advantages. It makes the selection process fast and efficient: with just a few clicks, you have immediate access to a large number of available babysitters in your area. Such a service provides you with tools to help you through the process of recruiting your babysitter: selection according to your criteria, references validation, interviews, etc. Finally, this option costs a fraction of the price of a traditional agency. The disadvantage is that you are entirely responsible for your selection, the validation of the babysitter and your ultimate choice.

Traditional Placement Agencies

A placement agency recruits, screens and sends you candidates that meet your needs. Using a placement agency will save you time and will make your selection process hassle-free. It might also provide you a certain peace of mind since all the candidates are screened by the agency before you meet them. Moreover, there is usually a warranty if things don’t work out with the nanny; a free replacement is then offered within a specific period of time. However, the disadvantages are not negligible. The first being the price: placement agencies are expensive ($ 500 and up for opening a file and placement fees). Some agencies might also take a percentage of the nanny’s salary. Finally, parents are usually tied with the caregiver by contract, and as with all the research methods, there is no guarantee of success.

In conclusion, choosing a babysitter or nanny is a big decision. There are several solutions available to you. Review the pros and cons of each one and select the one you are most comfortable with. Most importantly, whatever method you choose, always do your own reference, credentials and background checks, even the service offers to do it for you.

Paulina Podgorska
Founder of SOSsitter.ca

Like most women, Paulina wears many hats.  She is a mother, she is an entrepreneur, she is an at home child care expert.  This vocation manifested at an early age when she started being a full time nanny for her baby brother.  Later on, she used her experience to work as a babysitter while in college.  She then became a Mom and started to look for child care providers. Being a single mother, finding the right at home baby sitter was critical to her.  This quest for the perfect nanny gave her the opportunity to meet and work with numerous nannies and  babysitters and further develop her expertise. Realizing that finding the right nanny or babysitter turned too often into an obstacle course, Paulina created SOSsitter.ca, an on line service where parents and local in-home sitters connect, that’s fast, efficient and affordable. Through SOSsitter.ca, Paulina leverages her expertise to help families find the local help they need, when they need it.  The site gives parents the opportunity to use their own criteria to search through a large database of detailed profiles of local nannies and babysitters that have been reviewed by mothers. Paulina also has a blog where she shares advice to help families through the selection and hiring process of a babysitter or nanny.  She also describes on her blog her adventures as a mom entrepreneur and founder of SOSsitter.


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