In a big city like Toronto, finding a great babysitter or nanny can be tough. Unlike small towns where everyone knows everyone and can offer tips on local sitters, in a city many families need to do a little research before hiring a nanny. Hiring a stranger to look after your children is nerve-racking. Luckily, there are many simple ways to find a reliable babysitter or nanny in Toronto. This article explores the online resources and services available to help you in your search, as well as offers you valuable advice from parents, babysitters and organizations.
Online Babysitter/Nanny Resources
Finding a trustworthy babysitter or nanny can be done with relative ease online. The following websites are great online resources for finding nannies and babysitters in Toronto. These sites allow you to explore potential candidates and to learn a little about them and their relevant experience before contacting them. These sites will put your mind at ease when hiring a stranger and will save you valuable time in your search for the perfect sitter.
When you are looking for a babysitter or nanny in a big city, there are so many search engine options that it can be hard to know where to look. In Toronto, care.com is a great resource to consider. This website allows you to post your own jobs for free, to register for free, and to view potential candidates (including valuable information like their experience and credentials) for free.
In a Pinch
Sometimes you just want to search for a nanny or babysitter on a site that has high standards from the get-go. InAPinch.com is a great option when you’re on the hunt for a caregiver because they are fairly selective in choosing the nannies that they advertise. To qualify for nanny/babysitting opportunities on this website, sitters must be at least 18 years or older, with a minimum of two years’ relevant work experience. This service will help you find candidates for short-term, part-time and long-term placements. They can also accommodate last minute child care requests—for those stressful times when you’re ‘in a pinch.’
This site allows you to easily search for nannies and babysitters for hire in your area. Each candidate listing includes a picture, brief bio, qualifications and credentials, rates, contact info and years of experience. The one downside to this site is that it involves membership fees for full service access—without subscribing you will not be able to contact potential candidates.
Three Interviews that will help you find a great babysitter or nanny
We interviewed three women, two of whom are mothers. Each of these women offer a unique take on how to find a great babysitter or nanny in Toronto. One is a mother of two, the next is a professional babysitter and the final is a representative from the First Aid Program at the Canadian Red Cross, an organization that offers CPR and babysitting training to youth.
Advice from a Working Mom of Two
We sat down with Anna G., a busy full-time working mom with young children under five years old. Anna shares how she has found and hired great babysitters and nannies in Toronto. She also offers her insider advice on how to find a sitter and how to assess if that sitter is the right fit for your family.
Q: How many children do you have? How old are they?
A: I have two young children. Lilah is three and a half and Grace is a newborn baby.
Q: Have you used babysitters in the past?
A: Yes, I have used several babysitters in the past.
Q: In what situations do you generally require a babysitter?
A: We tend to arrange for a babysitter on date nights and for the very occasional situation my husband and I both have to work unusual hours. We are both busy with full time jobs and at times obligated to work into the evenings and weekends.
Q: How have you found and hired previous babysitters you’ve employed?
A: The first babysitter I found was the daughter of a child care provider in the neighbourhood, so it was on a personal recommendation. The second babysitter was the daughter of a neighbour. Then I decided I wanted a reliable/consistent babysitter. To find such a candidate I posted a job on care.com for a regular babysitter position. I established my expectations (which were much much higher for strangers) including having 5+ years’ experience in childcare, a clear criminal record check, and ideally an Early Childhood Education qualification. In the end I received tons of applicants with all of those attributes and I chose a couple to interview with my daughter Lilah in tow. It was through this job posting that I found and hired my current babysitter.
Your kids should feel safe with the sitter.
The Nanny Diaries (2007). Picture from tumblr.
Q: What do you look for in a good babysitter?
A: I value experience, good references, demonstrable skills with kids, and a warm demeanor is a must.
Q: How do you evaluate if a babysitter has worked well for your family?
A: I stop and ask myself these questions after the babysitting session ends:
- Was the sitter on time?
- Was she/he reliable?
- Did my daughter have fun and feel safe with the sitter?
- Is my house in good order when I return?
Q: How do your children interact with your babysitter?
A: My oldest child loves her babysitter. She helped me pick her. We interviewed her in a park so I could see how they played together. She is thrilled when I tell her Maria is coming over to play and can’t wait for us to leave. They paint, do other crafts, in the summer they do chalk art outside, they have gone to the park, and she lets her put her to bed—which is actually a miracle.
Anna’s interview demonstrates that an excellent babysitter is within reach online, you just need to know what you are looking for in an ideal sitter and know how to communicate that to potential candidates. The rest is more or less up to your child!
Advice from a Working Babysitter
We talked to Sara J. (age 29), a working babysitter with coveted credentials and over 18 years of babysitting experience. Sara shares how she finds work opportunities, her tips for you in choosing the right sitter for your family and great advice on how to keep the loyalty of the sitters you enjoy working with, which helps you in the long term.
Q: Do you have any certifications?
A: Yes I do. I have First Aid and a CPR certification. But I should add that the certifications that I have are higher than standard because I have certifications for sailing safety as well.
Q: How long have you been babysitting?
A: Since grade seven, so roughly 18 years now. Wow, that’s crazy!
Q: Do you babysit for strangers? If yes, how did they find you?
A: Yes I have. While living abroad I worked at a bookstore. I would help parents find books for their children and I’d talk about the children I babysat back home to make conversation. They asked for my number in most cases straight away and I started to babysit their kids soon after. It’s happened in Toronto in that way as well when I worked at a bookstore downtown.
Q: How do you advertise your services (if at all)?
A: I don’t. I never have. I have always gotten hired through word of mouth.
Mary Poppins reading her qualifications.
Marry Poppins (1964). Picture from blogs.disney.com.
Q: Why do people hire you consistently (in your own words)?
A: Because I’m responsible. When I’m babysitting, I’m not a high school kid. I take on the parental role around the children I look after. We sit down and do homework, I run laundry, cook dinner; I think the parents really appreciate that I do those extra things. I’m not a teen eating pizza on their couch. Also, I love interacting with the kids.
Q: What is your advice to parents looking for a good babysitter/nanny?
A: You want someone you get along with, who you can relate to. It’s important to both like and trust the person you hire. No strangers who’ve hired me have bothered to call my references. They had a good gut feeling about me and went with it. But before you hire someone, have a trial run where you are there and present, observe how they interact with your kids and if you like that interaction and feel safe with them.
Sara’s Babysitter Retention Advice:
Sara pointed out in her interview that a key element of finding the right babysitter is a strategy for how to keep that babysitter happy in the role for the long term. Sara has worked with many families for years so we asked her a few questions to find out how her employers maintained the relationship and why she was enticed to stay. Here are three key insights from Sara that caught our attention.
Treat your babysitters like family. Sara recommends wholeheartedly welcoming your babysitter into your home and family. She advises that the babysitter will become more dependable and may be more likely to help you out in a jam.
Babysitters stick with families who appreciate what they do, who get along with them, and whose kids they like. When a babysitter is shown appreciation, they are more likely to offer to help out more.
Mary Poppins sings “Stay Awake”.
Marry Poppins (1964). Picture from blogs.disney.com.
Raise the Bar
Sara pointed out that she has been given a raise with each passing year by all of her long-term clients. She never had to ask for the raise but always appreciated it greatly.
I get paid $15/hour generally. Parents will often give me additional spending money (which I also appreciate greatly) if there are activities involved (like taking the kids out for dinner, to see a movie, etc.)
Sara recommends choosing adult babysitters and nannies who can offer professionalism on the job. Unlike teens doing this for pocket change, an adult nanny has chosen this role as their career and will likely take it more seriously.
Go with an adult: someone competent, someone your children will listen to and respect. Most parents want this, though they may not realize it. A lot of teenagers don’t know what they’re doing around kids. They watch TV, they ignore the kids, talk on the phone with friends and watch the clock. I do some of those things at times too but I help out, clean up the house, do laundry, make dinner.
Advice from Canadian Red Cross
We interviewed Janine Bain, Program Representative for First Aid at Canadian Red Cross. This organization offers a babysitting course for youth age 11 to 15. The course provides basic CPR training and caregiving skills. In order to pass, students must obtain 75% or more on the written exam, demonstrate the new skills taught in the course and attend every class. Those who pass are issued a qualified babysitter certification which they can then reference when searching for babysitting opportunities. Parents often enroll their own children so that they can offer higher quality care when caring for their younger siblings. We asked Janine a few key questions about how to find a great babysitter.
Q: Who teaches your Babysitting Course?
A: Our teachers are very well-trained facilitators who are certified in First Aid and who have a strong teaching background.
Q: What is your advice to parents seeking a great babysitter?
A: You want to interview or get to know your candidate whenever possible. Ask if they’ve done a course or have references. You want to ensure that they are respectful and understand the house rules, have an understanding of safe environments and a clear understanding of how to handle an emergency (who to call first etc). Invite them over before hiring them to meet and interact with your child, then ask yourself if it seems that they understand proper play time and if they are interested and engaged in the role. Finding a great candidate works for everyone involved. The parents, the child and the babysitter are all happier. Part of our course ensures that these skills and tendencies are in place.
Q: What do you feel are the most important qualities in a good babysitter?
A: A good babysitter needs to be positive, invested, engaged, enthusiastic and aware of their environment. They’re reliable, on time, available and respectful. All of these skills apply to those hiring an employee in any field. You want a babysitter who gets to know your child, is comfortable with your child and can lead your child through fun activities in your absence.
Watching small children necessitates certain skills in the babysitter. Be aware of your babysitter’s experience and ability to properly care for children in your child’s age group.
Q: Do you recommend taking any special precautions when hiring a stranger?
A: Reference checks are essential. Do some background work to ensure you are comfortable with that person and feel that that person will be suitable for your home. Word of mouth is a great thing. References from friends and family are a good place to start. Have the candidate provide a resume if they are able to. Putting together a resume is part of our youth babysitting program and a valuable skill for the youth we train.
The Nanny Diaries (2007).
Picture from IMDB.
Q: Is there any way a parent can feel more secure the first time using a new babysitter or service?
A: Doing your homework first can put you at ease. Check references. Meet the person in advance of the babysitting session. You have to be trusting to a certain extent, but researching these things beforehand can offer peace of mind. Consider introducing your child to the babysitter beforehand. I personally asked for recommendations from other parents I knew. I then asked those candidates if they had training or certifications. I took the time to get a sense of their previous experience and that overall made me much more comfortable the first time around.
We found that our three very different interviewees touched on a lot of common ground. We now know the value of doing your research, checking references, using word of mouth to your advantage and supervising the first interaction with your child and potential babysitter. We wish you the best of luck when hiring a babysitter. We are confident that these great insider tips and resources will help you find the ideal candidate, and don’t forget that a good gut feeling never hurts.