Using a babysitter for the first time

22 Oct 2020

Hiring a babysitter for the first time isn’t easy. Leaving your child with someone else can be a terrifying thought: what if something goes wrong? Is it too soon to leave them out of your sight? Will you be able to even relax while you’re out? No matter how old your little one is, it’s still a big decision – but being a new parent is demanding, and you need time to yourself, too. While hiring a babysitter for the first time is a daunting task, it is a natural step in the right direction – so here are some tips on how to make things go as smoothly as possible, for you, your child, and the babysitter…

Plan ahead

The key to having a stress-free, first babysitting experience is to plan ahead. Most importantly, you’ll need to find someone who you trust. Ideally a friend of family member is best, or someone who comes with solid references. And remember that you’ll need to fit in with the babysitter’s schedule too, so ask ahead of time. You should also have the babysitter visit your home a few days before you plan on going out for the first time; this will give you a chance to let them know about routines, and it’ll give your little one the chance to get to know them while you’re around (if they aren’t used to them already). You should also get the babysitter to arrive half an hour before you leave (ideally get the sitter and your child involved in an activity just before you say goodbye) as this will make the transition easier. 

Keep change to a minimum

If you appear calm and relaxed, your child will feel that what's happening is natural and nothing to worry about. It’s best to have the babysitter, whether it’s grandma, aunty, or your best friend, to come over to your place, so that your little one is in a familiar space and feels secure. Children feel more secure if they're allowed to fall asleep and wake up in the same environment, with the same people – so don't leave your child in the care of a babysitter while they’re asleep. Routines like mealtime and bedtime should be kept the same as when you’re around, and favourite toys should be at hand. 

Enjoy your freedom

Hiring a babysitter for the first time is very stressful, but once you say goodbye (and you must say goodbye – don’t sneak out the door as this will confuse your child and increase anxiety), take a deep breath, and enjoy your ‘grown-up’ time. Leave your number with the babysitter, but avoid the temptation to check-up every five minutes – explain to the sitter that they only need to get hold of you if there’s a problem. Likewise, you should only contact the sitter if you really need to – if you’re going to be arriving home later than planned, for example. Remember, you’ve planned ahead and you’re using someone you trust. Everything will be fine. 

Hiring a babysitter for the first time doesn’t have to be complicated – once that first time is done and dusted it’ll be much easier the next time round. If you're breastfeeding at night and your child won't take a bottle, you should wait a while before leaving your child with someone else. Don’t put off getting a babysitter for longer than you need to – it’s important for both you: it gives you a breather, and it’ll help your little one understand that it’s ok to be apart from mom for a bit.