Summer Safety Week: Finding the perfect babysitter

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Summer vacation is right around the corner, which has a lot of parents wanting to make sure their kids have some supervision while they're at work. Picking a babysitter is not an easy task and can be a hard and scary responsibility. Experts say it's all about taking the time to find that perfect fit for your family.

There are many places to search for a babysitter, from a babysitter job board to a list from your pediatrician`s office, but using a reference is by far the best option.

Parents need to compare similar family circumstances when using personal references for babysitters, says Jennifer Hoekstra, Helen DeVos Children's hospital injury prevention specialist.

Looking for a babysitter should feel like searching for a potential employee, making sure to interview the right candidate, asking the right questions, even schedulomg a trial visit with your children.

"Having a list of questions and making sure you are asking the same questions of each babysitter and trusting your gut a loT, it really does come down to that," said Hoekstra.

Trust your gut and don't feel obligated to chose the first babysitter you interview. It's about knowing your children`s needs and making sure the babysitter has your children's best interest at heart. Having numerous certifications is not a must, but babysitters should be able to be prepared and able to respond to anything. For instance, it's more common to need to deal with first aid care such as cuts and bruises than with life-threatening situations. Each family has individual needs whether its food allergies or household rules for electronics and bed time. Everything needs to be clear on exactly what is expected while parents are gone.

"As a babysitter, it's okay to ask questions if you're not confident that you have what you need to do your job," says Hoekstra, "Maybe you aren`t sure if there is a first aid kit, or maybe your not sure how to work the can opener that's sitting on the counter. It's okay to ask those questions."

Both parents and babysitters need to have open and honest communication in order to feel comfortable, confident and stay credible to ensure the children have the best care.

If you are interested in taking one of these babysitting classes, there are a few opportunities across West Michigan. The YMCA in Grand Rapids is hosting a class next month and The American Red Cross is also offering classes.

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