Babysitter Guidelines

ExitCare ImageParents often worry about leaving their children in someone else's care. By starting the process of finding a babysitter long before you actually need one, you and your children will be ready when the time comes. This should help make the experience a safe and good one. 

FINDING A BABYSITTER

  • Who should you choose?

  • A babysitter should be at least 13 years old.

  • The babysitter should know basic first aid. The babysitter also should know CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). That means the person knows what to do if your child stops breathing.

  • It is helpful if the babysitter has taken a babysitting class. (In the U.S. the American Red Cross offers these classes. This class covers safety and health issues.) Other groups sometimes have these classes. Your healthcare providers may know of classes in your area.

  • How should you decide?

  • Ask friends or family members for names of people they think might be a good babysitter for your children.

  • Interview possible babysitters. Get to know them a little. Find out what they like to do. Get a feel for their personality. Ask what they would do in certain situations.

  • Ask who else they have babysat for. Get the names and phone numbers (or e-mail addresses) for the families they have worked for. Then ask these people about their experience with the babysitter.

  • Have the babysitter spend time with you and your children before hiring him or her.

  • Consider hiring the babysitter as a parent's helper before leaving the sitter alone to stay with your children.

  • Ask your children how they feel about the babysitter.

  • If your child is close to 12 years of age an older babysitter may be appropriate to avoid authority challenges.

  • If a babysitter is needed regularly it may be advisable to employ an older person. Sitters can be found through newspapers ads, agencies or word of mouth. Often, local colleges may have a list of students who have an interest in babysitting.

HOMECARE INSTRUCTIONS

Before leaving a babysitter alone with your children, be sure to go over all instructions. Talk about anything you think is important. Ask the babysitter if he or she has any questions. You should do this each time the babysitter comes. Not just the first time.

When a babysitter is new to your home:

  • Give the sitter a tour of the house. Explain:

  • Where you keep flashlights.

  • Where first aid supplies can be found. This should include band-aids, a thermometer, and creams for minor scrapes.

  • How to get out of the house in an emergency.

  • Point out any possible danger areas, inside and outside of the house. For example a swimming pool or basement steps.

  • Go over the names and numbers of who to contact in an emergency. It should include:

  • Your cellphone number.

  • Police, fire, ambulance and poison control agencies.

  • The nearest hospital.

  • Your child's doctor.

  • A neighbor or relative who lives close by.

  • Go over what to do in an emergency.

  • In case of fire, for example, the sitter should know to leave the house right away with all the children. Then, call the fire department from a cellphone or a neighbor's house.

  • Also explain when to call you and when to call your local emergency services (911 in the U.S).

Each time you use a babysitter:

  • Give the sitter a paper with important details, including:

  • The location of your home. List the address and your full name. Also write down the closest main intersection. The sitter will need this information if he or she has to call for help.

  • All of your children's full names, height, weight, hair color and eye color. This will be needed in case a child gets lost.

  • Make sure the sitter knows:

  • Where you will be.

  • How long you will be gone.

  • The best way to contact you.

  • Who to call if the sitter is worried about a child for any reason.

  • Who to call if the sitter is not sure what to do and cannot reach you.

  • Your rules regarding visitors, TV watching, smoking, drinking, computer use, and taking your child outside.

  • Go over any health issues that your children have, this may include:

  • Allergies, foods to avoid, treatment.

  • Explaining what food the child likes and dislikes, foods that should or should not be eaten.

  • Explaining what medications need to be given.

  • Explain meal and bedtime routines. Go over any rules.

  • Review emergency information.

  • Remind the babysitter of basic rules, such as:

  • Never leave the children alone in the house.

  • Always be present if a child is in a stroller or walker.

  • Stay with a child if he or she is in the tub.

  • Leave the house phone free in case you need to call.

  • Do not let anyone else enter the house.

  • Make sure any guns that you have in the house are stored and securely locked in a closet.

  • Support your babysitter's authority whenever possible or your child will lose respect for the sitter.

  • If your child expresses a consistent dislike over a specific sitter take time to listen to your child's concerns.

SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL CARE IF:

Make sure the babysitter knows to get medical help right away if:

  • A child is choking.

  • A child is having trouble breathing.

  • A child is unconscious.

  • A child has a seizure.

  • The sitter thinks a child may have swallowed something that could make him or her sick.

  • A child gets hurt. The injury is causing pain, bad bleeding, or swelling.