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Empower your baby-sitter!

Was your last night out a real nail-biter? If worrying about your baby-sitter gave you more chills than the movie, it’s time to start over. Try these ideas:

• References. Get them from reliable friends and relatives, then interview baby-sitters before their first time alone with your child. Good sources for baby-sitters: church groups, day-care centers, doctors’ offices. Add bonus points for baby-sitters who know infant/child CPR.

• Trial runs. After you’ve selected a baby-sitter, walk him or her through your house. Point out exits, security features, first-aid items, flashlights, telephones and fire extinguishers. Observe how the baby-sitter plays with your child.

• Lists. Before leaving, write down and review these items with the sitter:

  • address and phone of where you’ll be and when you’ll arrive there
  • your cell phone number
  • your home address and phone in case the sitter needs the police
  • phone numbers for the police, fire department, ambulance corps, poison control center and your doctor
  • names and numbers of two trusted neighbors (also, alert the neighbors that your baby-sitter has this information)
  • detailed instructions on meals, snacks, medicines, baths and bedtime
  • your expectations of the sitter, such as using the phone, watching TV, going out for a treat and having visitors

It’s up to you whether to disclose when you’ll be arriving home. Some parents prefer to say “sometime before midnight,” for example. By the same token, your baby-sitter (and his or her parents) will appreciate knowing when he or she will be going home. If you’re unsure about your baby-sitter’s performance, ask your child how he or she enjoyed the evening and if you should have the baby-sitter back. Only be concerned if your youngster seems worried or hesitant about answering. Sometimes, kids and sitters just don’t “click” and it’s best if you find someone else.