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Once your maternity leave ends and you’re heading back to work, you’ll need to arrange for care for your baby during the day. This can be one of the most stressful decisions a new mother can make because of how much trust is involved. These are the six steps we recommend following to help you find a caregiver who fits your parenting style and your child’s needs to the letter.

Do your research.
Nowadays, there are many more resources out there for finding a childcare provider for your child. But that doesn’t mean you can take everything you read at face value. If you want to go through a caregiver service, be sure to seek out independent customer reviews and look for bloggers who have written about their service.

Ask around.
Many moms will agree word of mouth of is the best way to find a babysitter, so start talking with the people you trust the most. Friends, family members and co-workers can be great sources in the hunt for babysitters and other caregivers, but consider asking your child’s doctor as well. They may have a person or company they feel comfortable recommending.

Conduct an interview.
Once you narrow down some options, schedule interviews with potential caregivers. This is a job, just like any other, so don’t be afraid to come with plenty of questions for them. After all, they’ll be spending a significant amount of time on their own with your child. Do they have any certifications in health care, nutrition, etc.? What are their core philosophies and values? Pay attention to how professional they are during the interview and take notes to keep everything straight.

Set up a trial run.
After conducting interviews, you’ll hopefully have one or more candidates in mind for the position. This is the time to schedule some play dates to see how they interact with your child while you’re in the room or out of the room within hearing distance. Watch them change a diaper, prepare a bottle or food and play with your baby. Pay attention to how your baby reacts to them as well — children are incredibly perceptive.

Follow up with references.
If the trial run was successful, now is the time to call your potential sitter’s references and ask them to speak honestly about the candidate. If they didn’t provide you any references, that’s a red flag you shouldn’t ignore. The references also should never be relatives.

Trust your gut.
Throughout this entire process, there’s one more factor you can’t ignore: your gut. A mother’s intuition is a powerful tool, so pay attention to any hunches you feel. You have to be 100% comfortable with this person and if you feel anything more than the natural apprehension of a new mother, it may be time to move on.

It will not be a quick process, but your diligence will pay off in the end when you find a caregiver that helps your child continue to thrive in your absence. Hopefully this will lead to a strong and lasting relationship with someone you can rely on and your baby can bond with.

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