Finding quality childcare for your new baby takes time, organization and a network. You can't simply set a date on the calendar and go. After baby arrives you'll need a plan to cover your return to work or orchestrate that much needed date night. Here is the Momtrends Guide to finding a sitter or daycare setting.
Plan ahead: Best case scenario--one month to interview and vet a childcare provider.
Put together a checklist: Before you start scanning Sittercity or Craigslit or your local YMCA babysitting wall, you need to put together a job description or a checklist for a daycare center. Think about:
- Hours (are you in need of PT, FT or just occasional help)
- Duties (due you want someone to do baby laundry, cook, clean, drive)
- Experience (how many years experience)
- Special health considerations (does your child need medicine or physical therapy)
- Pay rate
Start the hunt: There are several ways to find a daycare center or sitter/nanny.
1.) Ask friends and coworkers for referrals.
2.) Post an ad on your local web group or newspaper.
3.) Use a sitter service such as Care.com, Sittercity or here in NYC, SitterStudio
Twitter Tip: Think out of the box. @CynSieWil says, "Contact friends and colleagues with school-aged kids-Got into a share-a-day setup with one mom & her fantastic sitter of 10y"
Interview at least twice. One time without the child, one time with the child. For some great interview questions, check out this article from BabyCenter.com.
SmartStartSitter Tip:Instead of seeing how 'personable' a sitter is in the interview, challenge the candidates to answer open-ended questions to discern just how much skill they really have with the children they care for, especially in trying circumstances.
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Check all references. Yes it is a pain to make dozens of calls. On our last sitter hunt two of the calls provided me with damning information. Of course, there are two sides to every story, but why take chances. One of the major upsides of a sitter service--they do the checks for you.
Trust your gut. If you feel nervous handing your baby to this person to hold, don't do it.
Momtrends Tip: For the first week or month, plan surprise visits home by you or a neighbor to make sure everything is going smoothly.
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