Leaving your child with a babysitter can be a difficult thing, but if you know the right questions to ask and the right information to give, it can make you, and your child, much more comfortable.
How to go about choosing a babysitter:
- Get a trusted friend or family member, if possible.
- Ask your friends for recommendations.
- Do not hire a sitter under age 12.
- Watch your child’s reaction when you tell them a sitter they know is coming, and listen to what your child says about the sitter afterward.
- Have the babysitter come over and meet you and the children in advance.
- Make sure he or she knows CPR and first aid.
- Ask whether young sitters have taken the American Red Cross babysitter class. If not, encourage them to take it. If you have a sitter aged 12 to 15 that you like, offer to pay for them to take the class.
- See how they interact with the child/ren. A good strategy is to hire them first for a time when you are home, and have them watch the kids while you something done.
What to tell the babysitter before you leave:
- Your names
- Children’s names and ages
- Address of the house
- Nearest intersections/directions to the house (in case it is necessary to give directions to emergency services)
- Phone numbers at the house
- Name and phone of family doctor or pediatrician
- Emergency services number (usually 911)
- Nationwide poison control hotline: 1-800-222-1222
- Location of exits, smoke detectors, fire extinguisher, and flashlights
- Location of first aid supplies/first aid chart
- Cell phone/pager number for parents
- Name and phone numbers for whom to contact in an emergency. Provide a list including neighbors, friends, relatives, and your doctor.
- Food and drug allergies
- Special medical information, such as asthma, allergies, etc.
- Where you will be—name, address and phone number
- Time you will be home
- Children’s bedtimes and bedtime routine and general house rules, including limitations on tv, computer, video games, etc.
- Any food or drink to be given to the children
- Medications—name, time last given, time next dose due, amount to give (dose)
- Never to shake a baby or young child
- How to calm the baby if crying or colicky
- How to handle misbehavior
- Any other special instructions
Let your babysitter know your expectations before you leave. If you’d prefer the sitter not leave the house with your child, or if the sitter drives, let them know the rules about driving with your children, and also if visitors are off limits.