A woman raises her hand in a "stop" gesture. Learn about babysitter red flags you can't ignore and your child will be safer.

As a pediatric nurse, choosing a babysitter for my children has always been a difficult decision. Having cared for many children at the hospital who have been abused while being babysat, I use extreme caution in deciding who will watch my children when I am away. Sure, there are plenty of fantastic babysitters out there, but let’s face it, there’s a reason good help is hard to find. Here is a list of babysitter red flags you can’t ignore if you want to keep your little ones safe.

  1. The Babysitter Doesn’t Provide References

If your babysitter cannot provide legitimate references, then you should book someone else! References are essential so that you can talk to other parents about their experiences with your potential sitter. When you call to check them, this is a great time to ask their previous employers if they notices any red flags.

2. The Babysitter Refuses a Background Check

When a babysitter declines or hesitates to consent to a background check, it raises serious questions about their transparency and willingness to be held accountable.

3. The Babysitter Is Late

Babysitter’s should respect your time and arrive when you have asked them to. A babysitter who consistently shows up late is not making your family a priority.

4. The Babysitter Requests To Bring a Friend

You have chosen the babysitter based on their qualifications and trustworthiness. Adding friends into the mix introduces unknown individuals into your child’s environment. These friends may not have undergone background checks or any form of vetting, potentially jeopardizing your child’s safety.

5. Unexplained Injuries

Unexplained injuries or marks on your child are a massive red flag. Look for bruises, scratches, burns, or any physical harm that your child cannot account for. Be particularly concerned if these injuries appear frequently.

6. Inconsistent Explanations

When asking your child about any injuries or marks, pay attention to their explanations. If the babysitter provides inconsistent or vague explanations for how the injuries occurred, this is a significant red flag.

7. Your Child Shows Fear or Anxiety

If your child shows signs of fear, anxiety, or nervousness when it’s time for the babysitter to arrive, it could be a sign that something is not right.

8. Inappropriate Discipline

Be cautious if the babysitter uses discipline methods that are not age-appropriate or seem excessively harsh. Physical abuse can begin with seemingly minor disciplinary actions and escalate over time.

9. Your Child Doesn’t Look Cared For When You Return

When you return home, your child should appear well-taken care of, with a clean and healthy appearance. They should be comfortable and emotionally stable.

10. The Babysitter Talks Bad About Other Parents

Beware of a babysitter who engages in gossip or speaks negatively about other parents. This behavior indicates a lack of respect and certain level of contempt. If they are willing to talk smack about other families, you can bet they will gossip about yours as well.

11. They Are Always on Their Phone

A responsible babysitter should prioritize your child’s needs and safety. If the babysitter is consistently absorbed in their phone and not attentive to the child, they are putting your child at risk.

12. Foul Language and Inappropriate Behavior

When a babysitter uses foul language or exhibits inappropriate behavior in front of your child, it is a significant red flag. This behavior not only sets a bad example but may also indicate a lack of professionalism and respect for your child’s well-being.

13. Dishonesty

If the babysitter is not honest about their actions, whereabouts, or any incidents involving your child, it raises concerns about their integrity and reliability. Honesty is a fundamental trait for a caregiver.

14. Stealing

If you notice items missing from your home or your child’s possessions disappearing when the babysitter is present, it’s a clear sign of stealing. This is a red flag that can’t be ignored.

15.Not Respecting Boundaries

A babysitter who consistently crosses personal or familial boundaries, such as entering private areas of your home without permission or violating your instructions, is not someone you should trust with your children.

16. The Babysitter Falls Asleep While Watching Your Kids

A babysitter who falls asleep while watching your kids is neglecting their needs. Children who are left unsupervised are at risk for accidents and injuries.

17. The Babysitter Asks Your Kids to Keep Secrets

Secrets are not okay. If your babysitter asks your child not to tell you about things that happened while you were gone, this is a significant red flag.

18. Your Intuition Tells You Something is off

You know your child best! If something just doesn’t feel right, trust yourself. Find a sitter you can feel good about, without second guessing that they are a good fit.

What To Do When You See Red Flags With Your Babysitter

When you notice red flags in your babysitter’s behavior or actions, it’s essential to take immediate and appropriate steps to ensure the safety of your child. Every situation is different, but here’s a general guide on actions you can take.

  1. Stay Calm and Gather Information
    • Maintain your composure and avoid confronting the babysitter immediately.
    • Observe the situation carefully and gather as much information as possible about the red flags you’ve noticed.
  2. Have a Conversation with Your Child
    • Talk to your child privately and ask open-ended questions to understand their perspective and feelings regarding the babysitter’s behavior.
  3. Document Evidence
    • If there are visible signs of abuse or misconduct, take photos or make notes as evidence.
    • Document any conversations with your child regarding their experiences.
  4. Suspend the Babysitter’s Services
    • To protect your child’s immediate safety, suspend the babysitter’s services pending further investigation.
    • Inform the babysitter of this decision and explain your reasons clearly.
  5. Consult with a Legal Advisor
    • If necessary, seek legal advice, especially if there are allegations of abuse or misconduct that may require legal action.
  6. Communicate with Other Parents
    • If you have reason to believe that the babysitter’s behavior may have affected other families, consider informing them about your concerns.

Final Thoughts

Our children’s safety, happiness, and health can hinge on finding the right caregiver. If for whatever reason your babysitter is not a good fit, don’t hesitate to find someone you feel better about. Be aware of babysitter red flags you can’t ignore and you’ll be better prepared for problems that may arise.

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