Tips for Hiring a Babysitter in the Iowa City Area

Hiring a new babysitter or using one for the first time can be a bit intimidating. How do you find a sitter? How much do you pay? Here are a few answers to common questions when it comes to hiring a babysitter in the Iowa City area.

Tips for Hiring a Babysitter in the Iowa City Area

A babysitter and child

The Search

Finding a babysitter can be a daunting process, especially if you are new to an area. A few websites makes the search simpler:

The Hire

Set and agree to a rate of pay upfront. Some babysitters will have their own set rates and others will expect you to tell them what you pay — this is especially true for younger babysitters.

What you pay for a babysitter will likely depend on the needs of your kids, what you expect the sitter to do, and what is the going rate in your neighborhood — along with other factors.  For example, you may pay more per hour if you expect the babysitter to prepare a meal, give a bath, and put three kids to bed, compared to a lower rate for someone simply hanging around after school until you get home from work. I generally set a rate per/hour and also let them know how long the job will be, so that we have agreed on a total price before the job.

Ask about transportation. Even among older babysitters, not all have their own cars. If they do not have transportation, make sure that you set the time that you will pick them up and drop them off. I tend to pay a little more to babysitters who drive their own car to help cover gas.

Discuss any special needs your children have or items that may cause someone concern.

  • Do you have pets?
  • Do you keep guns in your home?
  • Do any of your kids have specific allergies or medical needs?

Allow your babysitter to ask any questions so you are all on the same page.

The Job Itself

If possible, I prefer my kids meet a new babysitter first, before they are going to be left alone with a new person. If it isn’t possible, then I’ll ask them to arrive 15 minutes or so before we need to leave. This lets me walk through the house, go over rules and expectations, and ask if there are any questions.

If possible, pay your babysitter at the beginning of the job. This decreases the awkward possibility that you will forget to fork over the cash at the end of the evening, putting your babysitter in the uncomfortable position of having to remind you to actually pay them.

Also, whenever possible, try to pay the full cost of the job, even if you come home early. If you contracted for 4-hours and come home early, your babysitter still had planned on 4-hours of income. Paying for the full job will help ensure that he or she is motivated to come back!

Wherever possible, make things easy. Dinner can be mac and cheese or pizza. Relax screen rules, if possible. However, make sure to cover any specific house rules upfront. For example, I do not allow babysitters to put videos or photos of my kids on their social media. If there is something that is non-negotiable, be sure it is discussed.


Once the job is over and your new babysitter has left, ask your kids how it went. Find out if they felt comfortable with the person, if they had fun with them, and if they would like them to return. This will help you decide if you’d like to hire that person again.

Follow-up with the babysitter about how things went. You can ask them how it went when you get home, but I also like to send them a text or email and ask if there were any concerns, as well as to let them know that my kids had a good time (if that was the case).

Take all concerns seriously. If your children don’t seem happy about a babysitter, ask questions about how they are feeling. Did the person sit on their cell phone? Were they unkind? Was it just not a good fit? Sometimes the match isn’t right.

What tips do you have for hiring a new babysitter?

Related: 7 Reasons You Should Pay Your Babysitter Well and Five Date Night Ideas for Couples Living and Loving in Iowa City.

Sarah is a proud Iowa native who currently lives in North Liberty with her husband and 2 sons. She grew up in rural Benton county and moved to the Iowa City area in 2005 to attend graduate school at the University of Iowa in Physical Therapy. Now she balances raising two growing boys with a work as a pediatric physical therapist. Outside of work and family, Sarah loves music, playing her cello, running, baking, crochet, church activities, and cheering for the Hawkeyes and the Minnesota Vikings.


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