Especially as first time parents you’ll probably dread the thought of going back to work.  I know I did.  I didn’t like the thought of leaving my baby with a complete stranger.  I kept thinking that no one will care for my baby the way I will.  No one will love her like I do.  I cringed at the though of leaving her in the care of someone else.  But for working moms you really don’t have a choice.  So at 5 months in we were on our third babysitter.  To help you avoid some of the bullshit we went through, here’s what to ask so you know what you’re getting.

1. Get references (and check them!)

Whether you get a referral from a friend, coworker or head over to sites like Care.com or SitterCity, ask for referrals and call them, email them, do whatever you need to do to contact them and find out what you can about your potential new babysitter.

2.  If your child has special needs, be absolutely clear about what those are.

I’m not just talking big things.  I’m talking the little things too.  If you want your baby held a certain way, fed at certain times, convey that to your potential babysitter and see how they react.

3. Meet in their home.

In my experience, everyone wants to babysit in their own homes.  I understand and I’m willing to accommodate that.  Meet there, where they will be watching your child.  That way you can see for yourself what kind of environment your child will be in. If there are pets, you can meet them, if there are other children that they will be caring for at the same time, you may be able to meet them as well.

4. Ask Questions.

If you have a partner, sit down and put on paper questions you want to ask.  Don’t be afraid to ask anything.  Ask more than you feel you need to, it will make you more comfortable in the long run.  Go in to the meeting prepared with your list, and more questions will still come to mind as you are chatting.  You can never know too much. This person is caring for your child after all.

5. Payment

Find out how they want to be paid, ahead of time?  Last day of the week?  Find out about sick days, will they care for your child?  If so, what is reasonable sickness?  Meaning, will they only care for them with a fever or if there is something more will they care for them?  We’ve found at home babysitters to be much more forgiving about this.  Some even offer sick care exclusively.  If you keep your child home because they are sick, will you still need to pay?  All of those things should be taken into consideration.

No matter what, you should feel completely comfortable with the person that is caring for your child.  Be nosey (within reason) ask a lot of questions and be sure that you’re getting the care you want for your child.  Babysitters can come and go, but as long as your comfortable and feel that your child will be safe in their care, that’s all that matters.