Moms share their fear-free formulas for leaving their little ones in someone else’s care.
Let there be bonding. "Get a sitter you trust, then hire her regularly so that she develops a relationship of her own with your baby. After my son got to know our sitter, his face would light up when she arrived, and I could tell she was happy to see him, too. This made me feel about a hundred times better when heading out the door."
—Sally Newman, mom of one, Flint, Michigan
Put it in writing. "I always leave the sitter an index card with important information: allergies, pediatrician, and the phone numbers of people to call in an emergency or even with questions—me, my husband, my mom, and a friend who lives nearby. I can rest easy knowing my sitter won’t be left guessing if something big comes up."
—Sarah Brown, Concord, mom of two, New Hampshire
Mooch! "I ask mom friends to recommend sitters they love. Works every time."
—Tricia Honea, mom of two, Seattle, Washington
Be a fly on the wall. "When I’ve hired a new sitter, I have her come over and spend time—paid—with the baby while I’m there. Observing the way she speaks to and interacts with my son gives me a good sense of what the dynamic is like between them." —Jennifer Tyree, mom of one, Chandler, Arizona
Pop in. "When I first start working with a sitter, I’ll plan to return home well before the time I told her I would, at least once. This way I can make sure nothing’s going on I wouldn’t approve of. When sitters are great, this isn’t a problem. Thankfully, I’ve never had any bad surprises."
—Lauren Hull, mom of two, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Let go. "Chill out on having a sitter do everything your way. I know that if I worry about whether she’s putting my baby to bed in exactly the same way that I do—singing the same songs and rocking her the same way—I’m wasting my energy. Babies are adaptable; they respond to gentleness and love, and they don’t sweat the details. I take that as a hint that I shouldn’t either."
—Maura Donohue, mom of two, New York City