Health Education

Finding a Great Babysitter

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When you fly on an airplane, the flight attendant always notes that if the pressure drops, you should put the oxygen on yourself first and then on your child. One of the most important things for new parents to do is to devise an entertainment strategy for themselves because happy parents always lead to happier children. And this necessarily requires parents to find some type of child care provider. Although there are many male babysitters, the use of “she” and “her” will be employed to avoid confusion!

What questions should I consider when choosing a babysitter?

What is the age of your child? Most new parents are very protective of their child. It is therefore more useful to have a college or older high school age babysitter with much experience with infants. Having a supportive mother just a phone call away is helpful for many younger babysitters.

What experience does she have?

You have to first decide what level of experience is necessary for your needs. If you expect the sitter to feed the baby, what experience does she have? Does she have younger siblings? Have you even seen her in action? If you expect the sitter to put your child to sleep, what experience does she have in that area as well? How long (if at all) do you want her to allow your child to cry?

What are your expectations?

A sitter needs to be respectful and attentive to your needs. It doesn’t matter what someone else wanted; it matters what’s important to you. Do you personally know the sitter? References are not nearly as important as relationships. If you do not personally know the sitter, how well do you know the person who referred her?

What are the safety issues to consider?

Fire safety: A sitter should understand what to do in the event of an emergency, how to contact the police and fire department and how to summon the emergency squad. CPR: It is nice to find a sitter with training in CPR. But the likelihood of needing CPR is very small and it is more important for a sitter to have a basic grounding in dealing with choking, poisoning and illness.

There are many Red Cross outlets and local municipalities that offer babysitting courses. They are useful because they provide lots of practical hints. But choosing a sitter with good common sense may be more critical.

What information should I leave with my sitter?

Always leave a cell phone number or the number at the restaurant or night club at which you are attending. Identify the number for poison control and for a grandparent or friend who can help out in the event that you cannot be reached.

Most of all, when choosing a babysitter an hour or all week, remember it is your child. Anything that makes you feel uneasy when you ask a question is probably not the right experience for you. Good luck!