Finding a babysitter that fits your family

Chloe Schneider

Chloe Schneider

Chloe is a writer and content strategist with bylines in mindbodygreen, Mashable, Ageless by Rescu, and more. She's a mum to one-year-old Felix, and believes that you can have it all, you just can't have it all at once
Updated on Jul 09, 2024 · 11 mins read
Finding a babysitter that fits your family

Leaving your baby, toddler, or child with a babysitter for the first time is one of the most nerve-racking and guilt-inducing moments in a first-time parent's life.


If you’re really feeling anxious about it, it could be that you are simply not ready to leave your child with a babysitter — and that’s ok! You don’t have to rush it. There will be date nights, dinners with your best friend, and moments for self-care in the future.

But if you know those butterflies in your stomach are just a regular dose of mum guilt mixed with first-time parent nerves, don’t call off your plans just yet. Instead, take some time to find a babysitter you trust and consider bringing them in for a trial hour with you at home. It might be a little more prep work up front, but having a trusted babysitter can be the difference between you actually enjoying your child-free night or feeling stressed and distracted.

In this article, we’ll share some of the things you should consider when finding a babysitter you can trust.

Why finding the right babysitter matters


Finding a trusted and safe babysitter is important to your child’s well-being. You want to do everything you can to ensure your little ones are in safe hands. This is where references and qualifications can be particularly important.

Parental peace of mind is also a factor, and this is where finding a good fit for your family is important.

Whether it’s work, date night, seeing friends, or time to yourself, you are getting a babysitter or nanny near you so you can get some time and mental space back for other things. If you don’t feel assured your kids are being cared for by a babysitter who has a good rapport with your child and family, you won’t get the peace of mind you need to focus on other things.


Defining your needs


You know your child, schedule, and family values better than anyone. Before you start looking for a babysitter, take a minute to define exactly what you need. Consider creating a short checklist to reference — this might help you make a decision later on.

What are your care needs?

First, think about your schedule, what kind of care you need, and what works within your budget. It might be as simple as an experienced babysitter to care for your toddler on a date night or a longer-term arrangement like a nanny a couple of days a week.

Consider your child’s needs

What are your child’s needs – from their age, personality, and any special requirements? For example, if your child has a disability or neurodivergence, you will want to look for a babysitter who has experience working with children who have similar needs.

Consider your family’s values

Think about what you value and whether there are any non-negotiables for your family. For example, you may want to ensure your babysitter or nanny is a non-smoker or that they prioritize learning through play.


How to find a babysitter you can trust


There are a few ways to find a trustworthy babysitter — it’s a good idea to search all of these sources to generate a short list of names, then do further research on your own before making a decision.

Online directories

Use online directories or babysitting agencies to find a reliable babysitter. These services can be helpful because they pre-vet babysitters before listing them on their directory and allow you to search for the things on your checklist like a non-smoker, first aid qualifications, driver’s license or experience with babies. Always read the reviews of the directories you use and check to see that the company checks all child carers for a working with children (WWC) check.

Referrals

Ask family friends, other parents at daycare or primary school, and parents in your mother’s group or friendship circle for referrals. While nothing beats a word-of-mouth referral, it is still a good idea to do your own homework to ensure the babysitter or nanny referred to you has a working with children check and ask about any other qualifications like a first aid or CPR certificate.

Social media

Check social media forums or online reviews to get an idea of a babysitter’s reputation. Again, even if a babysitter or nanny comes highly recommended, it’s a good idea to check they have a working with children check and additional qualifications like a first aid or CPR certificate.

Evaluating a babysitter’s qualifications


There are many qualifications to look for when searching for a babysitter. Some will be must-haves for you, and others may be nice-to-haves. Think about what’s a non-negotiable for you and ask about any qualifications that are not immediately evident on the babysitter’s profile page or resume.

Working with Children (WWC) check

A working with children check is a requirement for nannies, early childhood educators, teachers, and volunteers who work with children. It is a form that asks for details about past employment and criminal history — each state and territory in Australia has its own version of the Working with Children check so check your state or territory’s guide to find out more.

First aid and certifications

Check if the babysitter has a CPR certificate or first aid training. This is especially important for younger children and those who have special health considerations like allergies or asthma. If the former, you may also want to look for someone who has anaphylaxis training.

Vaccination history

If your child is young or immunocompromised, you may want to consider whether the babysitter is COVID-19 vaccinated and/or has had the most up-to-date flu vaccination. Don’t be afraid to ask whether a babysitter or nanny is COVID vaccinated or about vaccination history more generally — it’s a common requirement in their line of work.

Driver’s license

If you’re looking for an ongoing babysitter, a driver’s license may be important so your kids can get to extracurricular activities or the playground. And if you’re looking for a casual babysitter, a driver’s license may still be a consideration as, in any emergency, they could need to take your child to a doctor or hospital.

Early childhood education qualifications

The gold standard is a babysitter with all the above qualifications and a certification in early childhood education or a related field. Finding an early childhood educator who babysits or nannies on the weekends can be great for parents who are looking for some help with younger children on the weekends or evenings.

Assessing a babysitter’s experience


In addition to parent references from conversations at pick-up or the playground, you might want to ask a potential babysitter for more information about their experience.

Years of experience

Generally speaking, the younger your child, the more experienced the babysitter should be. If you are looking for a babysitter to care for a baby, experience looking after babies is crucial. In the same way, any special needs or disabilities in your family will likely be better supported by someone whose had experience looking after kids with similar needs.

Part-time casual babysitting and references

Ask for references from previous families or childcare centres for part-time, casual babysitters. Parent references are a great place to start, especially if you can get one from a family with children of similar ages or needs to yours.

Look for the part-time, casual babysitting experience or au pair experience. You may also find some early childhood educators or teachers who occasionally babysit.

Availability for school holidays

If you need care over the school holidays (which most working parents – or just overwhelmed parents – do), discuss this with your babysitter and consider their flexibility and notice period. Check if they’re available for last-minute bookings or have a regular schedule, and ensure you’re on the same page.

Evaluating potential babysitters


Once you have a shortlist of potential babysitters, you may want to conduct additional checks to evaluate them and find the right one for your family. This process has two phases: an interview and background or reference checks.

Interview questions

Interviews help parents assess whether a babysitter or nanny is a good personality fit for their child and confirm that the sitter has the skills needed to care for their children. They are also a good opportunity to ask for additional references, qualifications, or background checks.

Start with basic questions about the babysitter’s childcare experience, why they like their job, and their caring style or approach. Then, you could ask how they would respond in specific situations—whether that’s more serious emergencies (e.g., choking or an accident) or how they might distract your child if they become upset that mum and dad are not home.

Red flags to watch out for include lacking basic childcare skills, being unable to provide references or backup qualifications, seeming checked out or uninterested during the interview, or simply getting a bad gut feeling. This is a time to trust your mum gut!

Background checks and references

Once the interview is complete, run background checks, such as looking up WWC check status and asking for a CPR certificate or first-aid qualification. Next, call a couple of the provided references and ask about their experience with the babysitter or nanny.

Remember, those references are parents who have been in your shoes before, so you should feel comfortable asking any or all questions, no matter how specific.

Scheduling and logistics


It is important to thoroughly check that your babysitter or nanny is legally allowed to work with children in Australia and that their references and qualifications are checked out. This is especially true if you are hiring a nanny on an ongoing basis, but a thorough check is important in all cases.

Although there is no law stating the minimum age to be a babysitter in Australia, if an incident occurs with a babysitter under 18, the child’s parents will be liable.

Finalising the arrangement


Once you’ve found a babysitter or nanny you can trust, it’s time to book them in and agree on fees.

Babysitting fees and payment terms

Research the going rate for babysitting fees in your area — you can find out by asking other parents at your child care centre, enquiring with your mother’s group or friends, or jumping into local Facebook groups to get a sense of rates.

When negotiating a fair rate, consider the babysitter’s experience, qualifications, and age, as well as the age of your children and their needs.

If you are working with an agency, this will be made clear upfront, along with any additional administration-related agency fees.

Ongoing relationship management


For parents working with a babysitter in a more ongoing way, you’ll likely need to treat the relationship as you would with any other kind of employee (which hopefully involves mutual respect).

Regular check-ins

Continuous communication is crucial — you want to ensure you are addressing any issues or concerns that arise and that your babysitter or nanny feels comfortable bringing up any concerns they have. Keep the relationship open but strictly professional — this will ensure your babysitter or nanny has a safe space in which they can bring up issues like behavioural problems or accidents that happen when your children are in their care.

Handling changes and termination

As your needs change or your babysitter or nanny’s availability changes, you may need to terminate your arrangement or make changes to hours and fees. Communicate any changes clearly and with as much notice as possible to ensure a smooth transition. Remember – a babysitter or nanny is like an employee of your family, so keep it professional and be respectful of their time and experience.

Frequently asked questions


1. What qualifications should I look for in a babysitter?

Look for a Working with Children check (WWC), qualifications in early childhood education, CPR certificate, first aid qualifications, and any specialised qualifications or certifications based on your individual child’s needs. These qualifications should come in addition to reference checks and reviews.

2. How much should I pay a babysitter in Australia?

This largely depends on where you live and your needs, but on average, you can expect to pay between $20 and $35 per hour. At the upper end of that limit, you will find someone with several years of experience who can care for babies and young children and has some qualifications or certifications.

3. What are the best websites to find babysitters in Australia?

If you are looking for a trusted site to find babysitters, try websites and apps like Kiddo, Find a Babysitter, and Juggle Street. Remember, these are just directories, so you will want to do your own reference and qualification checks. You can also enlist the help of babysitting and nanny agencies like The Nanny Collective and Little Lovelies, which have networks 

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