Finding the right sitter
Parents should do a little homework before they choose a baby sitter. Parents should sit down, work together and decide about the kind of baby sitter they need. Baby sitter candidates should be interviewed to determine if they are a good match.
The best way to find a baby sitter is through a reliable source - such as friends, relatives, neighbors and colleagues. If parents are still unsuccessful they can ask the child’s doctor or a local chapter of the American Red Cross for suggestions. Interviewing the baby sitter in an informal way is essential for parents. Parents should be fully satisfied and comfortable with the interview process. Parents should not forget to ask the babysitter all relevant questions regarding their concerns. Parents should make sure that the baby sitter knows about infant and child CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and first aid. Before hiring the babysitter a prescreening process would be helpful for the parents to make their final decision. This is not just to check on the baby sitter’s skill level but to know the comfort level the parents, kid and the baby sitter as a whole. Parents can invite the baby sitter to spend a day with the child while the parents can observe and decide. Watching the baby sitter deal with the child, the child’s response to the baby sitter and the parents’ confidence regarding it will help the parents make their choice.
Baby sitter’s checklist
The baby sitter should be given a checklist that has certain guidelines before she takes charge of the child. She should be taken on a tour of the house so that she knows how to reach first aid equipment, food and clothing supplies, medication, and all exits out of the house. Parents should leave necessary information with the baby sitter to reach them or others during time of need or emergency.
It is best that the parents leave a copy of the baby sitter checklist as follows:
- Parents Name
- Parents phone numbers
- Home address along with general directions
- Office phone number (s) or phone numbers(s) of the place they will be
- Child’s doctor’s name and phone number
- Neighbor or relatives name and phone numbers
- Friends’ names and phone numbers
- Emergency telephone number (Poison control, police, ambulance, fire and hospital)
- Allergies (if any)
- Daily medications the child needs to be given (if any) (along with time and the dosage)
- Foods to be avoided
- Food allergies
- Snack time
- Bed time
- Other person to contact during emergency
- Notes for the baby sitter
- Safety guidelines
Parents should educate the baby sitter about crib safety and about SIDS. They should remind the baby sitter to lay the child on his/her back and how the child needs to be put to sleep in the crib. Parents should also make sure that the baby sitter should not place the child on the couch or sofa or the adult’s bed; or cover the child in the crib with a blanket.
Bath and water safety
The parents should decide if the baby sitter could give bath to the child or not. If she is allowed, the parents should educate the baby sitter about bath safety guidelines. They should ensure that the baby sitter follows bath guidelines to avoid drowning and scalds. If the parents do not wish the baby sitter to give bath to the child, she should be clearly instructed on this matter and the reason behind it clarified.
The baby sitter should not leave the child alone in the bathtub and the bathroom door closed when outside the bathroom. If the bathroom door has a latch it has to be locked. The toilet seat should be kept closed and locked (if there a lock system in the toilet seat). The baby sitter should never leave the child alone in the bathroom or in any other room.
Other general instructions to be given to the baby sitter are: The baby sitter should call the parent if the child has any signs of illness such as fever, diarrhea, nausea, rashes or pain, aches and injuries. The baby sitter should know where the fire extinguishers are kept and the way to use them. The baby sitter should ensure that the safety gate to the stairs is always latched. If there is no safety gate, a light weighted object should be placed before the stairs to prevent the child from climbing stairs. The baby sitter should keep away plastic bags, coins, small objects, balloons or bottles away from the reach of the child.
Child’s information and guidelines
The baby sitter should be informed about the foods she can give the child and at specified intervals as per the instruction list. She should also be informed about what choices she can make when the child is fussy about foods. She should be informed about the child’s pattern of behavior, likes, dislikes, activities, toys the child play with, music the child listens to, the TV show the child watches and other routines of the day. Information regarding potty training or diaper changing and handling diaper rashes should be clearly informed to the baby sitter. The baby sitter should give medicines to the child only upon instruction from the parents. The baby sitter should be taught about the ways the parents discipline the child and the way to handle tantrums.
The parents are in charge of guidelines they wish the baby sitter to follow while at home. Instructions regarding the usage of home appliances such as microwave, security system, fire alarms, heaters, coolers etc should be clearly given. Instructions to answer phone calls or door bells should be given too. The baby sitter should be clear at the beginning of the day about the things she can do at home and the responsibility for her role.
A Word for Parents
Parents should always check with the baby sitter at the end of the day to give them a feedback regarding the child or any concerns she may have. At the same time they should also ask the child (if the child is old enough to communicate) about his/her experience with the baby sitter.
Written by: Irene J
Edited by: Michael K. Davis, MD
1. D’Alessandro. D and Huth .L, 2002, Choosing a Babysitter: Checklist for Parents
2. Women’s Health.gov, The National Women’s Health Information Center, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,
Last Updated (Tuesday, 05 October 2010 19:17)