The smartest ways to hire a babysitter

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January 23, 2013, 6:18 am
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(NECN) - A Boston-area nanny has been accused of fatally injuring a one-year-old girl in her care - raising even more concerns among parents.

Aisling Brady pleaded not guilty to assault and battery charges in Cambridge District Court on Tuesday.

The charge could soon be upgraded to murder after the young victim's autopsy is complete.

Kara Baskin, Author of the Boston.com Parenting Column "The 24-Hour Workday", joined "The Morning Show" to share some of the following advise for parents looking for the best options in finding a trust-worthy nanny:

Word of mouth is more valuable than any website with background-checking services, like Care.com or Sittercity. Make sure you get references from people you trust. If at all possible, meet with these references in person.

Often a nanny can provide the phone number of a "reference" who is actually a friend. If meeting in person isn't possible, ask for a work number or a landline number, not a cell phone, which is harder to trace.

Use social media to your advantage. There is no shame in looking for this person on Facebook or Twitter. Facebook profiles can be revealing. The nanny who presents herself as wholesome might also Tweet about being a pothead.

Kids don't lie. Take cues from their behavior. If they're acting cranky, displaying changes in sleep/eating patterns, etc. pay attention. Don't chalk it up to simple adjustment -- look to your caregiver for answers.

Trust your instincts. Often working parents feel so guilty leaving their child with someone else that they're skeptical of every potential caregiver and chalk it up to simple guilt. But, if you have funny feelings about this person from the get-go -- pay attention. Instinct is more valuable than any number of references.

Pay over the table. Many people pay under the table, but your nanny/caregiver should be willing to be paid legally. If she's not, you need to look for reasons why -- it's a red flag.

Stop home unannounced every so often, or drop into your child's day care. It keeps caregivers on their toes and lets them know that you're interested. Be skeptical of any daycare that discourages drop-in visits for whatever reason.

Google is your friend. News.google.com has an archive search. Use it. You can see many arrest records here. It's not creepy to look -- not when it comes to your family. Don't apologize. No measure is too drastic when it comes to protecting your kids.

The Department of Education strongly advises the following tips for hiring a babysitter:


• Ask for names and phone numbers of people who have hired the babysitter before. Call these people and ask what they liked and didn't like about this sitter.

• Interview the babysitter. Look for someone who is trustworthy, capable and comfortable with babies.

• Have a trial run. Have the sitter care for your baby while you are at home. You can watch the sitter with your baby.

• Describe your routines. Give the sitter information on your baby's habits and preferences for eating, diapering, playing and sleeping.

• Give clear instructions. Make sure the sitter knows how to deal with emergencies.

• Tell the sitter how you can be reached. Give the sitter the name and phone number of a friend or relative to call if you can't be reached.

• Write down the phone number of the baby's doctor.

• Give a tour of your house. Let the sitter know about anything unusual.

• Let the sitter know when you'll be home. Call if you will be late.

• Make sure the babysitter understands all your safety rules for your baby.

Tags: Better Business Bureau, nanny, babysitter, the morning show, Kara Baskin
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