As a first-time parent, or even a seasoned one, leaving your baby alone for the first time can be very frightening. Will your baby be safe? Will she be happy?

When it’s time to choose the best babysitter for your child, it’s important that you do your homework and research. One of the first steps is to decide exactly what you need from a sitter. Are you looking for someone to work a regular schedule? Or are you in search of someone who can watch the kids for a couple of hours while you go out for a date night?

When you’re beginning your search for a babysitter, don’t overlook the obvious. Sometimes you can choose the best babysitter for your child by looking at the people you know and love the most. Parents, sisters, brothers, and friends can often be a great resource. Even if they can’t do the babysitting, they may be able to give you valuable references.

If you’ve exhausted the resources of your closest friends and relatives, there are still other outlets to help you choose the best babysitter for your child. You may want to look within your faith community, workplace, and any other type of organization to which you belong for resources.

Finally, if you simply can locate anyone by activating the grapevine, you may want to use your social network friends. Post a request for a recommendation and see who they send you.

Once you find some potential candidates, you’ll need to make sure to interview each one and check references. Ask for and call the references they give you – if they were referred by a friend, have a deeper conversation with your friend about who this person is, if they’ve ever been in trouble and why, if they have a temper, and most important…why did your friend refer them to you?

When you’ve narrowed your candidates down, you should introduce your child to the babysitter and watch them in action together. This will be an additional help as you choose the best babysitter for your child.

Once you think you have the perfect person for the job, make your first few outings short and sweet so that your child will feel secure. Even though you’ve done everything possible to choose the best babysitter for your child, you want to make a gradual transition. And if you like your sitter – treat him or her well! You don’t want to lose someone it took so much effort to find.