Before the Parents Leave
An information sheet must be filled out and left behind with the sitter. We have compiled a sample information sheet that you may download and print. Fill out as many areas as possible, more information is preferable. Click here for the babysitter checklist.
It is preferable to have the babysitter meet and interact with the children during the initial interview prior to babysitting being required. If this was not possible, introduce the babysitter to the children. It is a good idea to discuss the family rules with both the babysitter and the children present.
Parents should take the babysitter on a tour of the home and check for any special locks or security systems, windows that cannot be climbed out of, where the telephones are located and anything else that might be a problem in case of an emergency. Check for doggie doors and lock any unlocked doors or windows.
Parents should point out which areas of the home that the children are not allowed in (garage, basement, office etc).
Note the location of the first aid kit, flashlights, and the fire extinguisher.
During the walk through, check for hazards and things that the children can get into, such as matches, lighter fluid, electric cords, plastic bags, medications, or anything else that may be dangerous. Parents should ensure that all guns, knives, power tools, razor blades, scissors, and other objects that can cause injury are stored in locked cabinets or storage areas.
Check that swimming pools and hot tubs are completely enclosed with a barrier, such as a locked fence or cover. Wading pools should be emptied when not in use. Windows and balcony doors should have childproof latches. Balconies should have protective barriers to prevent children from slipping through bars.
Safety gates should be installed at all open stairways if required. If a gate is not provided, place a barrier of some kind in front of the stairway that a child cannot climb over. Accordion-style gates with large V-shaped or diamond-shaped openings should not be used since they can entrap a child’s head, causing strangulation. A gate with a straight top or small Vs and diamond-shaped openings is safer. Make sure pressure gates are firmly in place and can’t be dislodged by the child.
Be sure the home is free of clutter on the floors and especially on and near stairways.
Be sure the babysitter meets the pets. The parents should introduce the babysitter to the family dog, cat, or other pets. Animals may react to having a different person in the house and the introduction will reduce the pet’s stress. Let the babysitter know if the pets need feeding and where the food is located.
The parents should explain to the babysitter how they wish misbehaviour to be handled.
The babysitter should ask the parents if they are expecting any phone calls, and how to handle them. If there is an answering machine in the home, tell the parents that you would like to use it to screen callers.
Having visitors while babysitting is a bad policy. Babysitters should always get approval if they would like to have a visitor of the same sex. Babysitters should never have visitors of the opposite sex.
Check with parents whether children are to have a hallway light of other light on after retiring. Check how parents want room left, if the bedroom doors are to be open or closed. Even then, the doors should be left open slightly so the children will have the security of knowing the babysitter is still there, and make any call of distress more noticeable.
Parents should let the babysitter know if they are allowed to do homework, watch TV, use the radio, computer, or phone after the children have gone to bed.
All special instructions should be written down on the babysitter checklist.
Parents must specify the amount, time and method of delivery. Parents may even wish to set a small alarm clock for the babysitter if the time of medication delivery is critical. For most medications try to leave just the amount necessary for the time that you are away. This will reduce that chance of accidental over medication. We suggest using a “day by day” style container that is clearly marked with the child’s name if there is more than one child in the home. Medicine should be kept in a locked storage place that children can’t reach.
Bathing an infant is not recommended. Unless specifically instructed by the parents, do not bathe a baby. A clean face cloth in lukewarm water will suffice in most cases for cleaning the skin. Bathing a baby calls for utmost care and supervision; aside from the risk of hot water scalds, there is always the danger of drowning.
If the babysitter is to bathe a child, they must never leave the child unattended in the tub, even for a minute. Small children can drown in very little water. If the phone rings, let the answering machine pick it up, or let the caller call back. If the child is bashful and is embarrassed to be naked, the babysitter can take a book or magazine into the bathroom. The babysitter can sit on the floor or on the closed toilet lid and “read” while the child bathes, and their face will be hidden. Having the child wear their bathing suit in the tub is always another good option. Parents should inform the babysitter of specific bath times.
Parents should layout some clean clothing for the children to change into. Loose, baggy clothing can be dangerous if it gets caught on furniture, cribs, playpens, etc., while children climb, play or scamper about the room. Clothing can also be a problem if it becomes tightly wound around a baby. Babysitters need to be on the alert for hazards such as these, and adjust the clothing so that it cannot become tangled.
Parents should discuss whether the babysitter will handle brushing and flossing teeth.
The babysitter should know if they are to give the children anything to eat or drink before bed. Find out what is an acceptable snack for the children and only have that snack in view. While preparing any simple meals, always turn pot handles inward on the stove so children can’t pull them down, and try to use the rear stove elements whenever possible.
Babysitters must remember to remove infant bibs after the meal is finished.
Parents should explain if the children have any food allergies and if the children are trained and prepared to use an EpiPen.