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What Information to Leave with a First-Time Babysitter


Posted on by admin | in Babysitting Jobs

Though it’s difficult to part ways with your child, even if it’s just for a brief period of time, there will come a time when you need a babysitter while you run errands, head to work or embark on a date night with your spouse. Many parents face feelings of anxiety, fear and doubt when trusting another individual to care for their child. According to childcare expert Clair Haas of Kiddie Academy, it is often harder for the parents to leave than for the child to adjust to a new babysitter.

The key to a successful and worry-free outing begins with preparing yourself and more importantly, providing information for your first-time babysitter to ensure that your child is in the best care.

Begin With The Basics

While you are away, you want your child’s routine to stay consistent with a first-time babysitter. Help your sitter learn the ins and outs of your household by inviting her over for a visit prior to the first time you leave your children alone with her.

“Doing your review in the few minutes you have before your dinner reservation will be rushed, and you may forget to pass on key information she needs to know,” says Haas.

During the initial visit, walk your sitter through your home and point out where she can find dishes, meals, snacks, bath accessories, towels, pacifiers, diapers and clothes for your children. An overview of basic household procedures, such as how to dim the lights, work the remote or DVD player and operate kitchen appliances can also better prepare your sitter for the assignment.

Outline the Routine

It’s important for your sitter to be familiar with your child’s routine. If your baby needs to be fed every four hours, provide your sitter with information about his last feeding before you leave. If your children have to be in bed by 8 p.m., make sure that your sitter knows how to best help them fall asleep, whether it’s with a goodnight song or favorite book.

“Write down and review bath time and bed time instructions – including how to get bath water to the proper temperature, how to turn on the monitors and what to do if the baby wakes up,” suggests Haas.

Provide your sitter with the big picture, suggests Caitlin Cherry, nanny and preschool director. “Explain your child’s schedule – not just the schedule while the sitter will be there, but the whole schedule,” she says. “Your sitter will know your child has to go to bed at 7 p.m. because he starts school or daycare at 7 a.m. It gives your sitter knowledge about the family and your child.”

With more information, your sitter can easily put two and two together when your child is acting out. “The sitter might realize he is actually tired because it is the busiest day of the week for your family,” says Cherry.

Communicate House Rules

Often times, when children are left with a new babysitter, they test the waters and try to break the rules. Communicate the house rules with your sitter so she is prepared and can keep expectations consistent when you are gone.

Don’t doubt your child’s intelligence, says Cherry. Even as an infant your baby knows how to manipulate. “Your child needs to know that the sitter deserves the respect of the parent,” says Cherry. “Your toddler will try to get away with everything so it’s important to tell your child, no matter how old, what is off limits and that the rules still apply.”

In addition to house rules, communicating discipline strategies you find acceptable, such as time out or loss of privileges, will help your sitter establish respect with your children. The key is communicating in detail how you want your household to run while you are away.

“It’s your house and your rules,” says Cherry. “If you do not want your child watching TV, then state it. Be specific and over explain.”

Allowing the rules to change while you are gone can cause havoc for your daily routine. “You end up unhappy, your child is not used to it and you’re breaking your rules for no reason,” says Cherry.

Be Available

In case of an emergency, your first-time babysitter will need to know how to reach you, a family member or a neighbor. Provide a list of emergency contacts on the refrigerator or somewhere within reach so your sitter is prepared. Review evacuation procedures in case of a fire and shelter areas during inclement weather.

It is crucial you communicate if your child has an allergy or medical condition, as well as the appropriate actions the sitter will need to take in case of an emergency.

More importantly, make yourself available and encourage communication with your sitter. “Ask the sitter to write down times the baby ate and napped for you to review when you get home,” suggests Haas. “Or, if it will ease your anxiety, ask the sitter to send text updates when the baby eats or goes to sleep.”

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