Fess up. You’d give your bank debit card PIN to your friends before you’d pony up your favorite sitter’s digits. Guess what? Your friends feel the same way. Finding a good babysitter is hard and all the lessons we’ve learned about sharing go out the window when it comes to this topic. Good news is there are plenty of services these days that make building your bench of trusted caregivers easy-peasy. Read on to get the scoop on the most popular for savvy Chicagoans.

photo: publicdomainpictures via Pixabay

Chime by Sittercity
Need a date night? Of course you do. Have an unpredictable schedule? Check out Chime by Sittercity. Look at sitter profiles (with video interviews) before you book online or via app for free (no subscriptions). These sitters go through a detailed vetting process and Chime is every bit as selective as you are—only 1 in 5 sitters make the cut. Find a sitter you like? Book in an instant and pay by credit card. No need to post a job and wait for responses. Added bonus: You can find similar high-quality Chime sitters when you’re traveling to New York, Washington DC and Boston.

Cost: Sitters charge their own rate, but the default is $14/hour for first child, $1/hour for each additional
Online: hellochime.com or book via Chime app

Sittercity has been helping parents find nannies and babysitters for nearly 20 years. You post your job and then review profiles of the applicants. It’s just that simple. You can look for coverage on a specific date or book an interview and evaluate for needs you have in the future. Need a part-time or short-term nanny? You can find one here. Bonus: They offer services nationally.

Cost: Browse sitters for free; full premium access is free for the first month (no promo code required, cancel anytime); subscription plans are $35 one month, $70 three months or $140 for 12 months.
Online: sittercity.com or the Sittercity app

UrbanSitter is great about using technology to connect users with sitters in their “network”, allowing searches based on local school or parent groups. You can also sync your account with social media pages so you can see what sitters your friends have already used. Get to know great sitters through video profiles, parent reviews and repeat family badges. Booking is fast and you can post one-time or recurring jobs. They offer placements in the city.

Cost: Browse for free; subscriptions plans are $19.95 per month or $99.95 per year or they offer a one-month access pass for $34.95 (good for 30 days).
Online: urbansitter.com or the UrbanSitter app

K Grace
K Grace is a mom-owned business and offers a strictly concierge-focused model. They specialize in last minute and emergency care. In order to use their service, you need to be registered with them in advance and pay a subscription but they can likely accommodate any of your more unpredictable special requests—overnights, temporary nannies, hotel stays, etc. Expecting a baby and need middle of the night care for your toddler for when you go into labor? They’ll have you covered.

Cost: One time start up fee of $250, which includes two free placements. Ongoing fees based on number of requests, contact K Grace for more information.
Online: kgracechildcare.net

College Nannies + Sitters + Tutors
Similar to K.Grace in that they’re a concierge-focused service, they also provide specific caregivers that specialize in after school pickup and tutoring, as well as short notice care 24/7. College Tutors and Nannies is currently an in-home provider for families that have Bright Horizons benefits through their employer. While there is an annual fee to get you into the system, there is no recurring subscription. They offer placement in the city and the suburbs.

Cost: Cost varies based on need, check website for more details.
Online: collegenanniesandtutors.com

Take a Break Playcare
This Lincoln Park playspace is a great option for a parent on the run and particularly someone with an unpredictable schedule. They provide supervised care at an affordable price and offer bulk pricing if you’d like to commit to using their service more than just a time or two. They also offer parties and day-off camps that cater to a wide variety of ages. While they take occasional walk-ins, they do recommend booking in advance if possible.

Hours: Mon.-Thurs., 8:30 a.m.-9 p.m.; Fri., 8:30 a.m.-midnight; Sat., 1 p.m.-midnight
2818 N. Halsted., Lincoln Park
Cost: $14 first child for drop-in play, $7 for sibling
Online: takeabreakplaycare.com

— Maria Chambers & Christa Reed