Find a Babysitter for Free

For many families, hiring a babysitter simply isn’t in the budget. In those situations, utilizing friends and family can be an excellent way to secure childcare at no cost.

Years ago, extended family lived within a stone’s throw away, so pitching in with childcare came naturally. Now, even when families live a drivable distance, they are often the first choice for providing care. Since family members have an established relationship with the children, being cared for by a relative can be a comfortable choice for both the children and parents.

Today, however, families tend to live further apart, so relying on friends to provide care has become more common. In many communities, groups of moms establish co-ops as a no-cost solution to childcare. Parents take turns caring for each other’s children so that they can secure care of their own. Strategically scheduling play dates and offering a play date in return can help parents secure the childcare needed as well.

For parents with older children, having a built-in babysitter can also prove to be convenient. It’s essential the sibling in charge is old enough and mature enough to handle the responsibility. If you plan to have your eldest babysit, consider enrolling her in a babysitting course. Many YMCA’s and hospitals offer them to the community. Since some states have laws that require a child to be a certain age before being left home alone (typically age 12), you’ll want to check with your state before assigning a babysitting job to your older child.

When utilizing free babysitting, parents need to ensure they aren’t taking advantage of family and friends. Offering an exchange of services or otherwise bartering for the care can help to prevent hurt feelings and keep family and friends from feeling like the relationship is one-sided.

10 Common Ways to Get Free Last Minute Babysitting

Finding a babysitter in a pinch for free can be difficult, but it’s not impossible. Keep these tips in mind next time you need a free sitter on short notice.

  1. Offer a favor down the road. Even if you don’t have money for a sitter, you’ve certainly got some marketable skill. Offer to return the favor for the sitter down the road.
  2. Recruit the older sibling. If you have multiple kids, one of them might be old enough to babysit for a brief period of time.
  3. Ask a neighbor. Don’t be shy to ask your neighbors to sit if they know your family fairly well. One of them might be interested in babysitting just as a favor.
  4. Barter for it. Bartering doesn’t mean you need to offer a pound of flesh. If there’s a local sitter you know, they might be willing to babysit in exchange for being able to use your pool or something else for a day.
  5. Babysit someone else’s child. There are other people in your predicament. Find out who they are, and take care of their kid one day with the understanding that they’ll babysit for you down the line.
  6. Send them elsewhere. If your kids are old enough to have friends they know well, sending them to a friend’s house can be a great option. You save money on a sitter, and they get to have a slumber party with their friends.
  7. Shift plans to during the week. Part of the difficulty in finding a sitter can be that you made your plans on a Friday or Saturday and they already have plans. If you make plans on a Tuesday or another weekday when most people don’t have plans, finding someone who will babysit “just to be nice” will be easier.
  8. Take them to Grandma’s. This isn’t an option for everyone, obviously, but grandparents love getting to spend time with their grandchildren. If you or your spouse’s parents might be interested, then you could always let the kids spend the day or weekend there.
  9. Turn to an aunt. If you or your spouse has a sibling that’s actively engaged in your child’s life, there’s a chance they might be thrilled to babysit for you – free of charge. You don’t know until you ask.
  10. Call in a favor. This is one of the more difficult ones, since there’s such a narrow palette of people who you may be able to ask. But if you’ve helped someone out recently, asking them to repay the favor by babysitting isn’t too unreasonable.

Being in a childcare crisis can be stressful. Knowing you have friends and family to turn to can help you secure free last minute babysitting if the need should arise.