References can play a big part in your decision to find the right babysitter or nanny. The typical caregiver will have two people that have already agreed to be their references throughout the hiring process. First-timers may use a parent or teacher for their child care references since they haven’t yet had a chance to establish a relationship with an employer.

Either way, the potential caregiver should provide you with both the phone number and email address of references so you can contact them easily. When searching for a babysitter or a nanny on Sittercity, log into your Premium account, go to the profile of the sitter you’re interested in, and scroll down to the References section to find that info. You might feel a little awkward calling a reference, so we’ve got some tips and a list of questions to guide you through the process.

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How Do You Call a Babysitter Reference?

The first thing you’ll want to do is introduce yourself and tell the reference why you are calling – don’t forget to say that the caregiver referred you.

“Hi, this is [Your Name]. I’m calling because [Potential Caregiver] listed you as a babysitting reference, and I was wondering if now was a good time to ask you a few questions about their personality and performance.”

In rare cases, the reference might not be comfortable speaking to you or did not agree to be a reference. Pro Tip: this is probably not a good sign. If you’d like to give the sitter the benefit of the doubt, you can contact them for another reference. Otherwise, remove them from your list of possibilities.

What Questions Do You Ask a Babysitter Reference?

If the child care reference seems happy to speak to you, here’s a list of questions that you can ask to help gauge your potential babysitter’s talents. As a courtesy, try to keep your questions brief.

The Basics

  • How well do you know [Potential Caregiver]?
  • In what capacity did they work for you?
  • How long did they work for you?

Their Personality

  • How would you describe them?
  • What are their best qualities?
  • What are their worst qualities?
  • How did your kids like them?
  • Were they always excited to see your kids?
  • (Verify anything the potential caregiver mentioned during the interview.)

Their Professionalism

  • Did they have a routine when working with your kids?
  • Are they flexible? (Consider getting a rating on a 1-5 scale for this question.)
  • Are they mature? (Consider getting a rating on a 1-5 scale for this question.)
  • Are they patient? (Consider getting a rating on a 1-5 scale for this question.)
  • Are they timely? (Consider getting a rating on a 1-5 scale for this question.)
  • Are they energetic? (Consider getting a rating on a 1-5 scale for this question.)
  • Can you give me an example of quick thinking from [Potential Caregiver] in an emergency?
  • Did they drive your kids, do an overnight job for you or sit for a newborn?
  • How did they do with these tasks?
  • How much supervision did they need?
  • How well did they follow directions?
  • Were they willing to clean up after themselves on the job?
  • What areas could they improve in?

Wrapping Up

  • Would you hire them again?
  • Why did you stop working together?
  • Is there anything else you would like to add?
  • Can I contact you again if I have any more questions?
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What Do I Do After Talking to Babysitter References?

When doing a phone reference check, you don’t have a lot to go by other than the person’s voice and assurance on the phone. So ask yourself a few questions afterward:

  • Did the reference sound nervous?
  • Did they answer right away to their name?
  • Is anything not quite right?

Unfortunately, there’s the possibility that the sitter could be having a friend pose as a reference. This is not a typical occurrence but trust your gut. You can learn a lot from how a person’s voice makes you feel, which is why we recommend the phone interview over exchanging emails.

We’re doing our part to help you confidently find the child care help your family needs on Sittercity—check out our Trust & Safety Center (for both families and sitters) for more info. But you can utilize your parental instincts and take comfort knowing that the work of each reference phone call brings you one step closer to finding the help that’s right for your family.

Ready to make it official with a sitter or nanny? Check out the background checks you could run for extra peace of mind and consider writing up a child care contract. Caring for your child is an important job—make the choices that are best for your family.

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