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7 Non-Negotiable Rules Every Parent Should Set for Their Babysitter

Hiring a new babysitter can be nerve-wrecking, especially for parents of younger children who don't have a lot of experience with it. Setting ground rule and expectations right from the start is one of the best ways to get off on the right foot. Each parent has to decide for themselves what they expect from their sitter, but here are some basic rules to consider.

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Rule #1: Must be CPR-certified

Before hiring a sitter, ask if she is CPR-certified, recommends care.com. Certification is fairly simple to obtain and will give inexperienced sitters the knowledge she needs to keep your child safe. If you find a sitter you like, but she isn’t CPR-certified, offer to pay for a course. Check redcross.org to find a class near you. Find out how to hire a babysitter you trust.

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Rule #2: No visitors

You wouldn’t let a stranger into your home, so you shouldn’t allow your sitter to have visitors you’ve never met, suggests PBS Kids. Most babysitters will know better than to have friends over while they are babysitting, but it’s always safer and smarter to clearly define your rules.

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Rule #3: Set screen time limits

Screen time rules vary greatly from family to family, so it’s best to set up clear expectations for your babysitter from the start. Make sure he knows if it is OK for your kids to watch TV and if so, how much, and how close to bedtime, suggests Kids Health. “I don’t want my kids playing on the babysitter’s phone,” adds Bridget L., mom of four.

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Rule #4: No pictures on social media

“I specifically stated my sitters aren’t allowed to take pictures of my kids on their phones or share them online,” says Tonya F., mom of two. If you are close with your babysitter, you may be comfortable with this rule, but in general it’s a good idea to ask your babysitter to respect your child’s privacy by keeping their pictures offline. Ready to take it a step further? Here are all the things you should never post about your children on social media.

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Rule #5: How (not) to discipline your child

Most parents want their babysitter to deal with misbehavior from their children when they’re away. Let your babysitter known what behaviors are not allowed in your home and be sure to be clear about what type of discipline is appropriate. Babysitters should be asked to never use physical punishment to discipline your children and parents can suggest alternatives like time out or lost privileges if your child is misbehaving. “Basically, don’t let my children act like brats,” said Jessie N., mom of three. “My biggest rule is discipline my children please, but in a healthy way, of course.”

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Rule #6: Spend time with your child

Of course, the most important responsibility of a babysitter is to keep your child safe, but it is also OK to ask your babysitter to spend time actively playing with your child, according to care.com. Suggest a few activities your child enjoys so the babysitter has ideas for keeping them entertained.

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Rule #7: No new foods

If your child has food allergies, make it very clear what he or she can eat safely. “Our sitters must always ask if they are feeding our children any new drinks or food,” says Elizabeth D., mom of two. “Both of my kids have food allergies and require EpiPen scripts.” Even if your kid doesn’t have allergies, it is still a good idea to set some ground rules for what your child can and can’t (or will and won’t) eat and when.