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How to find a good babysitter

"How to Rock Your Baby: A Heartwarming, Back-to-Basics, Happy Baby Guide," by Erin Bried (Hyperion; $14.99) features timeless tips for moms. Credit: Handout

We've been searching for a baby-sitter for the past several months. Although we've been lucky to have our family help out, I'd rather not have to ask our parents every time we have plans. I started by asking friends and neighbors for references and gradually have found a girls who seem to be a good fit with my 16-month-old daughter.

It's tough for parents to find someone other than friends or family to watch their kids. At least for me. I even have a checklist of what I'm looking for. So when I read the tips in "How to Rock Your Baby: A Heartwarming, Back-to-Basics, Happy Baby Guide," by Erin Bried (Hyperion; $14.99), I took note.

1. Get references. If your super-picky neighbor perfectionist friend finds a particular sitter up to snuff, your vetting process will be much easier. So ask your friends and neighbors first. If that doesn't work, put the word out that you're looking for someone in your various networks, like your church, bowling league or radical knitters group. Still no luck? Go online and try neighborhood message boards or even sitter services, like sittercity.com and care.com.

2. Set up an interview. Once you find one or preferably several candidates, invite each one over for a question-and-answer session. Ask about their previous experiences and qualifications, what they like about working with kids, whether they know CPR or first aid, where they live and their hourly rate. Also, ask them for the names and numbers of three other families they've worked for and let them know you'll be calling them.

3. Check their references. You want to find a baby-sitter who was beloved by her former charges and employers, so call every reference and have a good chat.

4. Set a trial run. Set a date to have her watch the baby while you are still at home. That way, you can see the way she interacts with your child and also how your baby responds to her. Then, set another trail run, where you pop in and out of the house during that time. Once you feel comfortable, you'll be able to confidently leave for longer periods.

From HOW TO ROCK YOUR BABY: A Heartwarming, Back-to-Basics, Happy Baby Guide by Erin Bried. Copyright © 2012 Erin Bried. Published by Hyperion. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.

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