15 Helpful Babysitting Tips for First-Time Babysitters
By Indeed Editorial Team
Published November 27, 2022
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Parents and guardians often seek qualified and enthusiastic babysitters to care for children when they're busy or working. As the babysitter, it's important to maintain a safe and fun environment for the kids, ensuring they observe rules and schedules. Understanding how to make the most of your experience and reviewing babysitting tips can help you perform well and increase your chances of a repeat job or a referral. In this article, we explore what a babysitter is and provide 15 tips for new babysitters to help them find success in their roles.
What is a babysitter?
A babysitter provides care and safety to children without their parents or caregivers present. They typically work part-time for families, entertaining and supervising children for short periods, as needed. Depending on the individual, they may have multiple clients or may babysit for a single family. They typically perform their job duties by going to the children's house to watch them in their own environment. Here are some duties a babysitter might perform:
playing games with the child
preparing and serving meals, such as lunch or dinner
bathing the child
picking up or taking the child to activities or school
supervising the child as they play
providing homework assistance
putting the child to bed
tidying up toys or the kitchen
15 babysitting tips for new babysitters
Here are some helpful babysitting tips for first-time babysitters to help you navigate your new babysitting job:
1. Review the family's schedule
Each household follows different schedules for mealtimes, naptimes, bedtime routines, and screen time limits. When you arrive at the home, you can ask the parents to outline the typical schedule, including any bedtimes or other notable events. If you're babysitting for a long period, you can ask them to write the schedule and any notes to refer to if you forget. Maintaining the family schedule can help the children adapt to having a babysitter by ensuring they're following their typical routine.
Related: Jobs for 13-Year-Olds
2. Bring supplies
Children are often excited by new toys or crafts to which they don't often have access. Consider bringing art supplies or games that are suitable for the ages of the children you're supervising to keep them engaged and entertained. Depending on the weather, you can consider bringing outdoor toys, sidewalk chalk, or snow castle moulds for them to play with and enjoy. If you babysit often, you can consider keeping a tote bag of reusable crafts or supplies that you can bring with you to jobs to keep the kids busy.
3. Plan for emergencies
Before the parents or guardians leave, ensure you have recorded any emergency numbers, allergies or medical issues, and health card numbers. Inquire about an emergency contact who you can call if you're unable to reach the parents by phone. Take note of all exits to determine how you can leave in the case of an emergency and locate any fire extinguishers throughout the home. Preparing ahead of time can help you think quickly in the event of an emergency, helping you to remain calm and confident.
4. Wear comfortable clothing
It's helpful to wear practical and comfortable clothing when you babysit. Consider the weather and dress accordingly if you plan to take the children outside. Pack warm and waterproof clothes for the winter and sunscreen, and a hat for the summer months. Many babysitters choose to wear clothing that you can move in and wash easily. Bring comfortable shoes and avoid hanging jewellery and accessories, as young children may play with them.
5. Bring a snack
If it's your first time babysitting for a family, it can be helpful to pack a snack, such as a granola bar, yogurt cup, or fruit snack. This can help you stay energized if you're uncomfortable eating the family's food or unsure of what's available. It's also helpful to pack a water bottle to help you stay hydrated and have something to take with you on the go.
6. Observe and enforce the family rules
Each family has their own unique set of rules, and as the babysitter, you're responsible for enforcing them. For example, some families might have limits on screen time or sugar intake. As the one in charge, it's important for you to know the rules and ensure they're being followed. Ask questions before the parents leave to ensure you know what to do in certain situations, such as if someone knocks on the door or the phone rings.
7. Keep the parents updated
Some parents and guardians enjoy receiving updates from the babysitter periodically. If required, you can send messages during your babysitting time or provide a summary update at the end of the night. For younger children, the update might include their food consumption, the length of their nap, or the time they settled into bed.
8. Be patient
Taking care of children requires patience and stamina. Kids might feel extra excitement if they aren't used to having a babysitter caring for them, so prepare to be patient as they adapt to the change. Being patient helps you build trust with children, making them more likely to respect and listen to you.
9. Review health and safety procedures
Before arriving for your babysitting job, it can be helpful to review any health and safety procedures, such as CPR or first aid training. As some recommendations change by age group or as new information gets released, taking time to review the information can be useful. This helps you prepare for a safe experience and allows you to remain calm if the child requires any first aid treatment. If the child has an allergy, it might also be useful to review proper methods for medication administration.
10. Arrive on time
As babysitters often get booked for specific events, such as dinner reservations, movie times, or work hours, it's essential to arrive on time. If this is your first time with a family, you can consider arriving 15 minutes early to ask questions about the child's routine, schedule, and household rules. Being punctual shows the parents or caregivers that you're reliable, improving the chances of a repeat job or a referral to another family.
11. Be flexible
Depending on the children's mood or time of day, they might not be interested in participating in any activities, crafts, or games you planned. Be flexible to changes and ask the kids for input on what they might like to do instead. Consider changing up your routine by taking a walk to the local park or going on a bike ride if you've received permission from the parents ahead of time.
Being flexible also helps you adapt if the parents request you arrive earlier or stay later than anticipated. Doing this can show you're a reliable and empathetic babysitter. If this happens, remember to track your hours and ensure they're compensating you appropriately.
12. Agree upon an hourly rate ahead of time
It's helpful to confirm your hourly rate during the interview stage for the babysitting position. This ensures both parties agree on the compensation before the job starts, ensuring you receive the expected payment at the end. If you're unsure what you can charge, consider asking other babysitting friends or parents about a typical hourly rate. Discussing this with the parents can help you establish good communication, set expectations, and avoid disappointment.
13. Plan your return home
If the parents are planning on staying out late, you can plan your return home ahead of time to help ensure safety. If you're unable to drive, ask your parents or another family member to pick you up. Unless you live close to the family's home and can walk or bike home, it's your responsibility to arrange transportation.
14. Stay focused
As children's health and safety are the responsibility of the babysitter while in their care, it's essential to stay focused and supervise the children accordingly. Younger children typically require additional supervision, especially when eating or playing. Keep your phone nearby in case of emergencies, but don't get distracted by it. Before you leave the room to go to the bathroom, ensure the children are busy with an activity and be quick.
15. Obtain the appropriate certifications
In some cases, you can get a babysitting job without any prior certifications. Obtaining specific certifications can help you gain confidence in your skills and ability to keep children safe. If you intend to work as a babysitter long-term, these certifications can help improve your employability and justify higher rates.
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