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Navigating Babysitting Websites

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It's always hard to leave your mini-me in a stranger's care — maybe even harder on Mama than Baby. Whether it's your first time leaving junior with a sitter or your 7-year old is the most sought after babysitting gig in the neighborhood, a good babysitter that you — and your child — love is worth her weight in gold. Unfortunately, finding the perfect babysitter is daunting, especially if it's your first one or you're new in town. Luckily, numerous reputable websites try to simplify the process for you. Intimidated by choosing a sitter online? Check out these commonly used sites and what other moms have to say about them:

Babysitters.com
Babysitters.com offers many great articles and resources for the parents and babysitter alike. The site allows you to search for babysitters in your area and sort by characteristics, like if you wonder whether they have their own transportation and are a non-smoker. They are affiliated with Sittercity.com, so clicking "join now" links you to the Sittercity website to register.

Care.com
Care.com is a comprehensive website that offers virtually any kind of assistant or caregiver you could want. For kids, they offer nannies, babysitters, au pairs, tutors and individuals qualified to work with special needs children. You can also find dog walkers, housekeepers, errand runners or senior companionship and care. It's a one-stop shop for the busy Mom. It is free to join Care.com and obtain the Basic Membership and browse. But to message potential sitters or post jobs, you need to upgrade to a paid subscription of a 1-month, 3-month or 1-year plan. Care.com provides a handy interview guide and several comprehensive background checks for you to choose from, ensuring all of your safety concerns are answered about potential sitters.

Holly N. had a great experience with the site, "We used Care.com and found a part-time nanny that we absolutely loved, it is really nice if you don't personally know of anyone; it's a good way to find someone reliable."

Katie P. also recommends the site, "Loved it! We moved cross country and knew no one. Quite a few people responded and I could "weed" out who wasn't a good fit. We found the perfect babysitter and couldn't be happier."

Sittercity.com
Sittercity.com connects caregivers with families looking for help. Search for your next babysitter, nanny, special needs caregiver, pet sitter or senior care companion. When you join the site, you can choose the Basic Membership for free, which allows you to view limited caregiver profiles and post limited jobs, or sign up for a Premium Membership subscription in one, three or 12-month increments. Sittercity allows you to read reviews by other parents and order basic background checks as part of the screening process. Additionally, if a sitter fails the background check, they are automatically removed from the site. The site provides a laundry list of suggestions for screening sitters, including questions to ask references, how to check social media for red flags, how to conduct phone and in-person interviews and much more. They have excellent resources, particularly for parents just getting into the babysitting game.

Jessica K. would recommend the site to other moms, "Posting jobs and responding to people is easy. I liked the step-by-step directions they suggest to you. Overall, I would recommend it to people who are looking for something other than traditional daycare and who live in a well-populated area."

Urbansitter.com
Touted as the site for parents on the go, Urbansitter.com allows parents to search for babysitters' availability based on the time and date, and parents can post last-minute jobs for spontaneous date nights. The site uses Facebook, which allows parents to find sitters based on their friends' recommendations. Badges allow you to see sitters with fast response times, passed background checks and repeat bookings, making it easy to rely on word of mouth about a sitter. Parents can also pay their sitter online through the site's secure payment center, avoiding that dash for cash. The initial membership is free to start, and parents can select a premium membership or pay as they go, in which case they are charged a fee per use. Urbansitter is especially convenient for individuals who live in the big city, but it may not be available in smaller communities.

Several other babysitting websites are out there to choose from. These are just a few examples of how they work. Check out more than one site and get information about how each one works to find your best fit. No matter which site and which sitter you pick, it's up to you to do your homework on each sitter you use. But of course, the kids get some say if the babysitter passes the "fun test" or not!

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