When you are asked by a neighbour, friend or relative to babysit, they are giving you a job with great responsibility. As such, every babysitting assignment should be carefully planned to ensure the safety and wellbeing of both the baby and babysitter.
Follows are some helpful hints to assist you with your babysitting experience.
When Asked To Be A Babysitter:
- Be business-like and state clearly:
- The day(s) and hours you are available to work
Experience you've had (i.e. infant, six year-old, etc.)
Pay you consider to be fair
- Get specific information and jot down details such as:
Parents' names, addresses and telephone numbers (including business and cell phone numbers)
Number of children and their ages
Escort and transportation provided to and from the job
Be cautious. Don't accept a babysitting job if you do not know the person who is calling. Ask who recommended you, verify, then call back. If in doubt, refuse.
Never advertise on bulletin boards. It may invite unwelcome responses.
Be prepared. Prior to the first assignment with a family, plan an advance visit to:
On The Job:
- Leave a note for your family before departing for a job, advising them of the:
- Address and telephone number of the babysitting assignment
Time expected home
On arrival at the child's home, get complete instructions from the parents and insist on specific details:
Place(s) where parents can be reached, if needed. Obtain telephone numbers, names and addresses of the people the parents will visit.
The names and telephone numbers of the family's doctor, trusted neighbour and/or relatives
Instructions for handling incoming telephone calls. Have a pencil and paper by the phone, if necessary.
Information about locking doors and windows, lights to be left on, emergency fire procedures and protocol for answering the door
Bedtime rules and routines for each of the children under your care
Any other special instructions such as diapers, baby's bottle, snacks, children's use of the TV, radio, 'lights out', etc.
When the child's/children's parents leave, you are in charge. Be sure to take the following precautions:
Check and lock all doors and windows
Refuse admittance to everyone
Never acknowledge on the phone or at the door that you are alone
Remember, you're a guest:
Take food only if you have permission
Don't explore. Do not open closets or drawers or read personal mail left open to view.
Don't allow friends to visit while you are babysitting
Avoid making personal telephone calls. Keep the line available for incoming calls from the child's/children's parents.
In Case of Fire:
- Get all children out of the residence
- Do not re-enter the house
- Use a neighbour's telephone to call the fire department
Guard Against Accidents:
- Pick up toys left on the floor, stairs, in halls and/or other passageways
- Be alert to possible child hazards such as medicines in bathrooms, dangerous utensils in kitchens, electrical outlets, etc.
- Always supervise children at play
- Do not operate appliances or equipment, unless permission is given by the parents
On The Way Home:
Report any unusual happenings when the child's/children's parents return home
If a parent is to drive you home but appears to be intoxicated, insist on calling your own parents to make alternate arrangements
Tips For Parents:
- Always leave the following telephone numbers readily available for your babysitter:
- Where you can be reached
- A friend or neighbour who can offer assistance, if necessary
- Police, Fire and Ambulance: 9-1-1
- The Poison Information Centre: 1-800-268-9017
- Remember that when you leave your child/children in the care of a babysitter you are placing a big responsibility on that person
- Selecting A Babysitter:
- Look for common sense and maturity
- Ask friends or neighbours for recommendations/referrals
- Let the babysitter you select visit your home prior to the date you will be going out so that both you and your child/children can get to know him/her
- Be explicit in your instructions and, if necessary, write out a list of important points regarding your expectations
- Discourage use of your telephone by your babysitter for lengthy calls to friends
Once you have chosen your babysitter(s), and have established trust in them, good and lasting relationships will develop. Your child/children will enjoy having them babysit and you will enjoy your time away from home, confident in the knowledge that your family is in good hands.
Note that some communities offer babysitting courses through the Canada Safety Council. Ask your babysitter if they have taken it. If not, suggest they do.