How to find a babysitter at short notice

by | Parent Guides

Jump to a section:
How to find a short-notice babysitter
Post a last-minute job on Bubble
Getting comfortable with a last-minute sitter
How much does a last-minute sitter cost?

We’ve all been there. You’re in the midst of a hectic day when you get a call from a friend: “Still on for tonight, hope you haven’t forgotten?!

Of, course – as if I’d forget,” you lie.

Now, back in your pre-parenting years, this wouldn’t have been a problem – you’d get home, change and head on out. Today, however, is different. There are extra mouths to feed and little people to get ready for bed.

What you need is a short-notice babysitter.

Luckily for you, we’ve got tips on how you can find one, things to look for when searching for one, as well as a brief explanation of Bubble’s Post a Job feature – ideal for booking short-notice sits.

How to find a short-notice babysitter

There are a whole host of reasons as to why you may need a sitter at such short notice. We have had Bubble parents booking last-minute sits because:

  • They’ve had to stay at work later than expected;
  • They’ve had to book an emergency appointment;
  • They’re sick – someone needs to look after the kids whilst we recover in quarantine!
  • They just fancy a spontaneous night out (who knew?!)

We’ve also had a short-notice sit booked because a parent was going into labour!

So, whatever your reasons, here are some top tips for finding that eleventh-hour hero:


You can always depend on family. They have been, and always will be, the first few people we call when we’re in need of a babysitter.

This is because we know, love and trust them – as do our kids. However, they’re not always available, and it’s unfair to solely rely on them. So, what are our other options?


Another classic. Parents will always turn to friends’ recommendations – it’s one of the most popular way of sourcing good sitters.

This is because we trust their judgement and value their honesty – friends will only recommend sitters that they have, or would, personally use – and what’s good enough for them is, more often than not, good enough for us.

Build a small roster of trusted sitters

As parents, we ideally want the same sitter looking after our kids.

Having the same sitter means that we trust them, we’re confident in their abilities and most importantly, they’ve built a relationship with our children. This is something that, of course, takes time. However, what happens when that sitter is busy, on holiday, or on another job? It means that if you’ve only got the one to rely on, you can often be left high and dry.

This is why it’s important to have more than one sitter in your roster.

Increasing your network and getting your kids used to a few different sitters is invaluable. It means you’ll always have options and won’t have to miss out. But most importantly, exposing your kids to a few great sitters – potential role models too – can only be good for them.


Image of Facebook and Whataspp logo

Facebook is an incredible tool for communities – groups exist for almost everything and anything – and if done right, it can be a great way of reaching out to people when in need of a last-minute babysitter.

There’s likely to be an active parenting group on Facebook for your area, so make sure you check it out. It’s often used by parents when in need of a sitter or nanny, and will contain like-minded people ready and willing to help you out with some top recommendations.

The same applies for WhatsApp – create groups of trusted friends etc and message away!

Bubble’s Express Book

Family and friends unavailable? Perhaps you need a sitter at such short-notice that it’s seems unfair to ask them.

Well, Bubble’s Express Book may be the answer.

Express Book is dedicated to short-notice sits. It is only available to parents needing a sitter for either the same or next day.

How does Express book work?

  • Parents post up their job requirements;
  • Local sitters get alerted of the job and are able to bid for it in real-time;
  • Parents then browse through sitters that have bid for the job, and confirm the sit with the one that they feel is right for them.

The benefits of Express Book

There’s no doubt about it, finding a last-minute sitter/nanny is a difficult balancing act. On the one hand, you are faced with a pressing need to find one. On the other, you don’t want that same necessity to compromise the quality and suitability of a sitter.

Express Book does the balancing act for you – curating quality, local babysitters and delivering them to your fingertips within minutes.

So, whilst the functionality of Bubble’s Express Book may be rapid; parents are still able to make a careful, considered decision as to who looks after their child. This is achieved by sitters’ profiles displaying extensive bios, as well as candid reviews left by other local parents – its the best of both worlds.

If you want to find out more about Express Book, check out our blog and quick-fire FAQs
You can download Bubble here.

Getting comfortable with a last-minute sitter

It’s important you feel comfortable (and confident) with whoever looks after your child. Booking a sitter at the eleventh-hour may seem scary at first, but you can get comfortable. Here’s how:

  1. Ask your friends – we find that the majority of parents use sitters recommended to them by friends. If this is the case, ask away! Your friends may be able to give you a valuable insight into the personality and skillset of the sitter.

Alternatively, if you’re using Bubble, our mutual friends tool enables you to see how you’re connected to a sitter, whether it be through Facebook friends, mutual phone contacts or school networks, and message anyone in that chain of connection for a personal vouch.

2. Check reviews – This may entail asking for references or, if you’re using Bubble, checking candid reviews left by other local parents. You can use the app to message those parents for more info.

3. Ask to see their certificates (if they have any) – this may include First Aid training, a Basic Disclosure and/or DBS Certificate. If you want to find out more about DBS Certificates and what they mean, check out our guide here [link]

4. Call the sitter – This is something that often gets overlooked. Sometimes, a quick phone call (or better yet Skype or FaceTime) can get you and a sitter comfortable with each other in no time.

Obviously, by the very virtue of it being ‘last minute’, there’s one thing you’re clearly lacking: time. Even so, make sure you’re 100% confident and trust the sitter you’re about to book.

How much does a last-minute babysitter cost?

On Bubble, babysitters set their own rates, and that same rate will apply whether you book 2 weeks in advance or for tomorrow morning. We have, however, found that the average hourly rate in London is approximately £9 p/hr. This will, of course, vary depending on location and other factors.

To find out more about the average cost of a babysitter, as well as the factors that can affect their rate, be sure to check out our babysitting rates article here.


How to find a short-notice babysitter:

  • Ask family and friends;
  • Build a roster of trusted sitters;
  • Join parenting groups on Facebook and WhatsApp;
  • Check out Bubble’s Express Book feature.

How to get comfortable with a last-minute babysitter:

  • Ask friends’ opinions (if they have used or know the babysitter);
  • Read their reviews – such as references or online/in-app sitter reviews;
  • Certificates – including first aid training, basic disclosures and/or DBS certificates; Ask the sitter to send or bring them.
  • Give the sitter a quick telephone or video call.

Bubble’s Express Book:

  • A great tool for finding sitters at short notice;
  • Parents post their job on the app, sitters then bid for that job;
  • Parents are able to look through sitters’ profiles and reviews, and choose the one that’s right for them.

If you’re a parent and have any questions about finding a babysitter, or a sitter who wants some guidance on getting jobs on Bubble, drop us an email at and we’ll get in touch!

Jump to the top of the page.