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100 Things All Babysitters Should Know
December 8, 2013 | in Babysitting Jobs
Working as a babysitter can be a great way to earn money while having fun; however, not everyone is cut out for the job of caring for kids. What should you know if you’re going to take on the task? Here are 100 things all babysitters should know.
Your number one priority when babysitting is to keep the kids in your care safe until the parents return. It seems simple enough: you play with a child, give him a snack and send him off to bed; however, it rarely happens that way – even for parents. Kids are curious by nature, and are predisposed to get into everything and explore. Sometimes that’s good, but it can also lead to dangerous situations if you take your eyes off of the kids. For tips on child safety, take a look at these 10 sites.
- According to Virginia Tech’s Babysitter Guidelines, you should never leave a young child alone while she’s awake and you should check on her from time to time when she’s asleep.
- Don’t give the kids medicine, food or drink unless told by the parents to do so, says University of Michigan Health Systems’ Babysitter Safety.
- Make sure that you know the parents’ full names, the kids’ names, the address of the house, the closest cross street, emergency phone numbers and a way to contact the parent in case of an emergency, per Children’s Safety Zone.
- Avoid texting or answering your phone while you are watching the kids, so that you are able to keep your full attention on them, says Kids Health.
- Be aware of poisons and always know the number to the poison control center (1-800-222-1222) should a child ingest something that may be poisonous, recommends the American Association of Poison Control Centers.
- Lock all doors and windows and don’t open the door while you are babysitting, suggests Safe Sitter.
- Know where the smoke detectors are and how to reset them should they go off when it’s not an emergency. Before resetting a smoke detector, walk all around the house inside and out to make sure there is no smoke, urges PBS Kids.
- Do not allow a child to roughhouse, jump on beds or play around doors, as injuries are more prone to happen during dangerous play, explains Save a Life.
- Don’t allow children to play on or around the stairs because the last thing you want is for someone to fall down the stairs, warns Minnesota Safety Council.
- Keep all dangerous items, like scissors, sharp pencils, knives and others, out of the reach of children, recommends Kid Money.
More than likely, an emergency won’t arise while you’re on the job, but you need to be prepared just in case one does. What would you do if the fire alarms started going off and you saw smoke coming from the laundry room? Talk to the parents before they leave to learn what they have told the children to do in case of a fire and find out where they keep the fire extinguisher. For information on what to do in an emergency, check out these 10 sites.
- Keep a copy of this Babysitter’s Training Emergency Reference Guide handy when you are babysitting, suggests Red Cross.
- Know where the first aid kit is and how to handle a minor emergency should one of the kids fall down and get hurt, recommends Kidz World.
- Create a babysitter preparedness tool kit for each babysitting job so that you have all important information at your fingertips should the need arise, directs the National Disaster Preparedness Training Center.
- Ask the parents to show you where the fire extinguisher is and to explain to you how to use it in case of an emergency, says Children’s Hospital Colorado.
- Sign up for a CPR and first aid training class at your local YMCA, hospital or Red Cross, suggests Sanford Health.
- Take the American Red Cross Babysitter’s Training Course, urges St. James Parish from the Department of Emergency Preparedness.
- Get a medical history to find out if the child has any allergies and have it on hand in case an emergency arises, says the Houston Chronicle.
- Have the parents fill out a babysitter checklist, as found on My Planning Lists, so that you can be prepared in the event of an emergency.
- Take a class where you can practice emergency drills so that you know what to expect if a real emergency comes up, says Baby Med.
- If at any time you are worried about the safety of the children and yourself, don’t hesitate to call for help, explains Judo Info’s Safety While Babysitting.
CPR First Aid
While it’s not required, you should consider taking a babysitting class and a CPR/first aid class. Not only will you be more prepared in case of an emergency, but you will be more qualified as a babysitter too. You may get more jobs if you are considered more prepared and more responsible. These classes do cost money, but consider it an investment in your new babysitting business. These 10 sites will explain the kinds of things you will learn in a class, give some basic first aid tips and explain how you can build your own first aid kit.
- Young children tend to put everything in their mouth and there’s always a chance that he will find a small item on the floor and choke on it. Taking a basic first aid course will teach you the Heimlich maneuver so that you can save the child’s life, indicates Inpulse CPR.
- If you have several choices of where you can take a CPR course, you may want to check out what the course covers, like the one listed on HSI.
- Make sure that the CPR class you take covers CPR for children and infants instead of just on adults, as the methods are very different; see a course description on YMCA Dallas.
- CPR and First Aid Courses can typically be taken by children 11 years of age and up, according to McGregor Institute of EMS.
- Learn more about CPR and First Aid training by reading the course descriptions on this site by Spark Family Enrichment Center.
- Keep in mind that classes vary and some include just babysitting or just CPR, while others, like this one on Real Life CPR, include babysitting, First Aid and CPR all in the same class.
- Read and print this list of first aid tips from Lanark County Ambulance and keep it with you while you are babysitting so that you can refer to it in an emergency.
- Review this guide about basic first aid from Steady Health and learn what you should do for basic cuts, scrapes and burns and when you should involve a doctor.
- Online first aid classes are available if you do not live near a facility that offers training, like American Health Care Academy. There is a cost to this course.
- Learn what you should include in a first aid kit that you can take with you when you are babysitting, as described by the Mayo Clinic.
Different houses have different hazards that you’ll need to be aware of as a babysitter. Before sitting for a new family, be sure to access the home for hidden and obvious dangers. Learn more about potential home hazards by reading through these entries.
- Read through this list from Parents of 10 surprising safety hazards that can be found in the home so that you can be aware of these things to protect the kids.
- Make sure that you are aware of any water hazards that may be around the home, whether it’s a swimming pool, baby pool, backyard fountain or a toilet, says Healthy Children.
- Be aware of these 12 hazards that may not be listed elsewhere, like a dog that snaps, toddlers standing in the tub and others, as listed on Baby Center.
- If you babysit a child in your home you may need to be aware of how to baby proof your home to keep kids safe, says Baby Proofers.
- Many hazards are hidden; here’s a list of five from CBS News.
- Houses are full of hazards, which is why it’s so important that you watch the kids at all times, especially around stairs and water. Check out this list of other hazards to keep in mind, as described by International Association for Child Safety.
- Top injuries to kids, according to the Home Safety Council, are falls, poisoning, fires/burns, choking/suffocation and drowning.
- Everyday Life writes about hazards that are found in the home that you as the sitter should be aware of so that you can limit the chance for injuries.
- Magnets might be one of the most hidden hazards in the home since they can be swallowed, as discussed on Voices.
- Avoid window blinds with long cords that could be a choking hazard for small children, explains Green and Save.
These sites will give you some insight as to what kinds of things kids do at different ages. This information will help prepare you with activities you can do with each age group. Once the parent contacts you about babysitting you will need to ask how many children you will be watching and what their ages are so that you can research age appropriate activities. The more prepared you are when you arrive at the job the more impressed the parents will be and the more likely you will get a call back next a sitter is needed.
- The Centers for Disease Control have a site where you can check developmental milestones by age.
- The University of Michigan describes milestones for gross motor skills, fine motor skills, language, cognitive and social skills.
- Every child is different when it comes to developmental milestones, says Child Mind Institute, but these professionals provide a range for certain milestones.
- Learn more about what a developmental milestone is and why knowing about them is important, per Psychology.
- Check out this basic timeline of developmental milestones from WebMD, so that you are aware of what activities you can plan to do when you babysit.
- Look over this list of skills arranged by age from Pretend City, which can help you determine what you can do to entertain a child while babysitting.
- Familiarize yourself with why milestones are important, as determined by Virginia’s Early Childhood Development Alignment Project, and what some milestones are.
- Download this developmental milestones chart to include in your babysitting binder so that you will have an idea of where a particular child should be, according to The Institute for Human Services.
- Take a look at this chart from American Speech-Language-Hearing Association to learn about developmental milestones.
- Baby milestones may be important if you will be watching an infant on a regular basis while the parents are at work; find helpful information on Bounty.
If you babysit for more than a couple of hours, you will probably be asked to feed the kids a meal. It’s possible that the parent will order pizza or give you money to order pizza to be delivered. If that’s the case, you will need to make sure that you cut the food up into small bite-sized pieces to make sure that the child doesn’t choke. You may also be asked to microwave dinner for you and the kids, and in that case you need to be aware of how hot the food is before serving it to the kids. Find more tips on food safety in these articles.
- Probably one of the most important food safety tips is to wash your hands before preparing food for the children, as listed in a Guide for Babysitters from the North Dakota State University.
- Smother a pan fire with a lid instead of dumping water on it, according to Young People Can Help the World Too.
- The Allergy Free Table has a downloadable action plan for coping with food allergies during a babysitting job.
- My Fearless Freddy has a list of 51 babysitting tips, which includes keeping kids out of the kitchen when you are cooking to avoid an accident.
- Be sure to ask the parents about any meals or snacks that you are expected to fix for the kids and find out if there are any food allergies, says My Child Safety.
- Make sure that you keep knives and any other food prepping equipment out of the reach of small children, as recommended by Urban Next.
- If you prepare food on the stove, make sure that you turn the handle of the pan toward the stove so that a little one cannot grab it and cause an accident, says Super Babysitting.
- Be careful about the food that you feed the kids and yourself. If you are unsure if the food is safe, it’s best to throw it out or avoid eating it says Safety.
- Babysitters Texas suggests using only the back burners on the stove and to double check to make sure everything is turned off before leaving the kitchen.
- Print this Food Safety chart if you will be cooking for the kids on a regular basis, as it gives all sorts of food safety guidelines.
Basic Infant Care
Unless you have infant experience, you’ll want to be sure to brush up on your baby care skills. Make sure that you know how to change a diaper, feed and burp a baby and lift and carry a baby safely. Gently bouncing a baby as you sway back and forth is soothing, but under no circumstances should you shake a baby for any reason. If you find yourself getting frustrated with a screaming baby, call a parent or nearby adult for help. Taking care of an infant can be overwhelming, so don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Tips and videos for caring for an infant can be found in these 10 listings.
- Review these tips for caring for an infant on What to Expect to learn the proper way to diaper, swaddle, hold and feed an infant.
- If you are nervous about taking care of a baby for the first time you can train on a Real Care baby doll from Reality Works.
- Learn how to properly feed and burp an infant by reading this basic infant care article from Pregnancy Magazine.
- Watch this brief video on how to pack a diaper bag on New Parent Resources if you will be taking an infant to the park or on other outings with older siblings.
- Learn how to put an infant to sleep and get her to go back to sleep after a diaper change by reading the tips on Parenthood.
- Knowing how to dress an infant so that she is neither too hot nor too cold can be difficult. Read the tips found on Advanced Pediatric Associates.
- Take a look at this list of facts that will clear up some misconceptions about caring for an infant on The Informed Parent.
- This article from Baby Zone shares the answers to some commonly asked questions about infant care that may come in handy when you are babysitting an infant.
- Learn how to properly pick up a child and how to hold a child among other things listed on So You Wanna.
- Watch this video on how to put a newborn to sleep, as seen on Hub Pages.
Basic Toddler Care
Caring for a toddler is different than caring for an infant or older child. For example, toddlers are developing their eating skills and will want to feed themselves. Toddlers also like to put everything in their mouth as a way to explore their surroundings, so you will need to be very attentive to the toddler to make sure that you pick up small items before he can put it in his mouth or remove the item if he happens to find something hidden under the couch. Toddlers love to be read to, so you may want to bring along some different books to read, as well as ask the toddler for his pick. Check out these 10 sites to learn more about toddler care and activities that you can do.
- If you are babysitting a 12 month old you can try rolling a ball to him to catch or provide blocks for him to stack, according to NNCC (National Network for Child Care).
- Encourage toddlers to move and dance to music, as suggested by Child Action.
- Toddlers have unique personalities, which make identifying with each one challenging. Take a look at the differences and the recommendations for caring for particular children on the Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning.
- Review this article to learn what a toddler should be eating and how to handle a picky eater, per Cleveland Clinic.
- Toddlers should be drinking from a cup and eating table foods according to Children’s Mercy. Encourage the use of a kid-sized spoon or fork.
- Look at the activity ideas on this article for cheap and easy things for toddlers to do, as suggested by Mommyish.
- Family Education has a bunch of suggestions for activities to do with a toddler, so take a look and see if you have supplies for any of the activities.
- Make a point to keep track of Toddler Toddler, as it contains 350 games, activities and crafts that you can do with a toddler.
- Sometimes toddlers want to play by themselves, and these independent play ideas from Toddler Approved might be things he would enjoy.
- Read through these unique ideas for entertaining a toddler, like having a blindfolded taste testing of foods to see if the toddler can guess the food, found on Little Daily Planner.
Basic Preschooler Care
Preschoolers love to mimic their caregivers, whether it’s a parent or a babysitter. Be aware of this and don’t get upset or feel like she is being disrespectful. Kids also love to feel like grownups at this age, so feel free to give her tasks like taking her own cup to the sink after snack time and picking up the toys with you. She can even try her hand at sweeping up the kitchen or dining room after snack time. It doesn’t matter if it’s perfect and you can go back and redo it later if you need to. Giving her a sense of accomplishment is important at this age. You should also bring along an age appropriate craft or game to play. These ten articles will give you ideas on what you can bring along.
- Involve preschoolers in everyday activities, liking picking up toys and setting the table, says Canadian Living Moms.
- Actively listen to your preschooler to learn what is upsetting her and try to work out a solution where she makes the suggestion, urges the Iowa State University Extension.
- Read about cognitive development and milestones for preschoolers on About Our Kids and use them to better understand and care for the child.
- Milk or water should be the beverage of choice to maintain a healthy preschooler, but be sure to find out what the parent wants you to serve. Find other food recommendations on the American Academy of Pediatrics.
- The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia says that it’s important that a preschooler eat only while sitting down to avoid choking.
- Preschoolers need a consistent routine when it comes to when meals and snacks are served, according to the Region of Waterloo Public Health.
- Try some of the preschool activities recommended by The Stay at Home Mom Survival Guide with the child you are caring for, which includes being creative with a box.
- Take your preschooler on a hunt for numbers around the house or take a walk. Hands on as We Grow has listed 40 number activities for preschoolers that might come in handy.
- Leap Frog has listed several preschool activities that are simple activities you can bring along when you babysit, such as jelly bean counting.
- Play school with the preschooler by using one or two of the activities listed on Angel Fire that allow the preschooler to feel proud for being able to do school stuff.
Basic Elementary School Care
School age children need to be supervised and kept engaged. If you are tasked to help them with their homework, be sure you’re eager and willing to help. Older kids are capable of making simple dishes, so bring along ideas for some healthy snacks, like ants on a log that he can help you make. Other games and activities for this age are recommended in these 10 posts.
- Make homemade puffy paint with your elementary schooler. You probably have all of the supplies at home already and this paint can be used on any type of paper, says the Project Bus.
- Use some of the activities that Parenting Miracles say are perfect for elementary students and will keep them busy for a little while, such as writing numbers as high as they can in sidewalk chalk or playing a card game.
- Bring a roll of painters tape to your babysitting job and let the kids make roads and a city with the tape. Then they can make buildings with blocks and drive their cars through the city. This activity is explained more thoroughly on 365ish Days of Pinterest.
- If the place you are babysitting has a dog, you may want to make a dog toy with the kids that they can later use to play with the dog. You’ll need to bring along some old T-shirts to cut up, as shown on Red Fly.
- By elementary school the child should be able to help fix food and snacks, says Better Health Channel, so come up with a healthy and interesting snack or dinner idea you can do together.
- When a child makes his own snack he is more likely to eat it, so take a look at the ideas on Cozi that break down snack ideas by ages.
- Online homework help for elementary age kids can be found at Homework Spot and can come in handy if you need to help a child with homework.
- Duval Schools is a site that provides some homework resources that might come in handy if you are helping an elementary age student do homework.
- Introduce the child you are babysitting to educational games online by going to ABC Ya and clicking on the grade level that is appropriate, as long as the parents agree.
- Get the kids outside enjoying nature and try to find a pine cone that you can use to make a birdfeeder. Take a look at Recreation Guy to see what other supplies you need.
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