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While the Parents Are Away

The babysitter should protect themselves and the children by locking all the windows and doors after the parents leave. Keep drapes and shades closed. Do not open the door to anyone unless the parents have told you who to expect and how to identify them. If the babysitter is in doubt, call the parents or 911.

If the telephone rings, do not tell the caller that the children are alone with a babysitter. Tell the caller that the parents can’t come to the phone at that moment and ask the caller to leave a message. If you receive unusual or obscene telephone calls, hang up and call the police.

The babysitter’s job is to care for the children in their charge – and nothing else. The babysitter should be with the kids every minute they are awake. It can be pretty tempting to leave the children in one room while watching TV in another room, but kids can get into trouble very quickly. As the babysitter you should never leave the children at any time. When the children go to sleep, they should be checked regularly, every 30 minutes. The babysitter should stay awake during his or her stay in the house.

If the children are taken outside to the yard, they must be watched carefully. It is the parents’ responsibility to let the babysitter know whom the children may play with or visit. If the children are with the babysitter in a public place, they must be watched carefully and not permitted to wander. Avoid sending the children to public restrooms alone. When you return to the home, if something seems suspicious (broken window or door), call the police immediately from another house.

The babysitter should never use the phone for more than 5 minutes. Parents must be able to call the home to see how things are going.

If it is evening, turn on the porch/outside lights and keep them on. If you hear any suspicious noises, do not go outside. If you suspect someone is outside, call the police at 911 immediately.

If for any reason you must leave the house, take the children with you!

Never let children lock a bathroom door. Go in the bathroom with young children to assure this doesn’t happen. If the door does become locked it should be possible to unlock it by inserting a pin into the hole on the outside of the doorknob. Ask the parents to demonstrate this procedure for you and know where the unlocking pin is. When not in use, keep the bathroom door closed and the toilet seat and lid down.

If the babysitter will be changing the baby’s diapers, they must plan on having everything within immediate reach so they won’t have to step away from the infant even for a second. If they are not constantly watching, babies can roll over and fall from changing tables or other high places. Have diapers, pins, etc., nearby so the baby is under constant supervision.

The babysitter should be sure that the crib is as safe as they can make it. Check the room between the mattress and the side of the crib, if there is more than two fingers’ width, an infant’s head could get caught in between and the infant could suffocate. Roll up a couple of large bath towels and place them in the space. If the slats are more than 2- 3/8 inches apart, the baby’s body can slide between the slats and suffocate. If the child is old enough to stand up, the parents should set the mattress at its lowest position, with the side rail at its highest position. Check the mattress support frequently to make sure it hasn’t become unhooked from the end panels. Any toys left in the crib should never be ones that could be used to help the child climb out. Cribs with decorative knobs on the corner posts can be a strangulation hazard. Children’s clothing and strings or necklaces can catch on the protrusions, especially if the child is trying to climb out. Crib gyms should be removed from the crib when the baby is five months old or can push upon hands and knees, otherwise the baby can get his/her chin across the crib gym or catch clothing on it and strangle.

Children should never be left in a play pen unsupervised.The babysitter should be aware of hazards to a child left alone in a playpen. A string of toys across the top or even to one side of the playpen could be a strangulation risk. Drop side mesh playpens and portable mesh cribs used with a side left down, can pose a serious hazard to newborns and infants. When the side is down, the mesh forms a loose pocket into which an infant can fall or roll and suffocate. Drop sides should always be up and locked securely in position when a child is in the playpen or crib. Don’t put any toys in the playpen that a child can climb on to get out. And little fingers can get caught in hinges.

Babies in carriages, walkers or strollers should never be left unattended, especially in an area around stairs or ramps. A malfunction of the carriage’s safety brake or a sudden movement by the child could tip it over. Walkers offer limited balance to a child not yet completely able to stand or walk. If unstable, walkers can easily tip over. Stay with the child when he or she is in the walker, and assist it over thresholds or carpeting.

A child in a high chair requires almost constant attention. Babies can quickly slip out of a high chair if not properly strapped in. Make sure that any safety belts or straps on the high chair are securely fastened and that the tray is properly attached. Don’t let the child stand up while in the chair, and keep other children from climbing on it. Keep the far enough away from tables and walls so that the child can’t push the chair over.

As a babysitter, don’t snoop about the house. Stay out of drawers, bedroom closets, the basement, etc. If the children see you doing this, you may be unjustifiably blamed for missing items later.

Once the kids are put to bed, then the babysitter is free to do what they want – as long as the parents said it was OK before they left. Once the children are asleep, the babysitter will still need to keep an ear out for any noises. Nightmares, a drink of water or anything that wakes a child and gets them out of bed is something they need to be there for.

Playing

A good babysitter is good at playing with children.

The infant likes objects to throw, hold, drop, tear, grab, and roll. The danger here is that they like to put things in their mouth. If the object is small enough the child could choke and stop breathing. A good rule of thumb is not to let the infant have anything smaller than their own fist.

Toddlers get into everything. The toddler likes to bang, push, pull, put in, take out, jump, draw, and colour. Some of the dangers to watch for, swallowing things, falling, and poisons. A toddler may pull a hot pot off the stove when the babysitter isn’t watching. A child may take the opportunity to play with matches when no one is watching.

Three-year-olds and up like an active physical game, arts and crafts, blocks, pretend, games of skill, and reading. Be careful of tables and objects the child could fall into, around stoves and heaters, matches and lighters.

As the babysitter, bring some things to play with like a notebook, magazines, colored paper, color markers, tape, and flashlight. Surprises for the children will make the job easy for you and fun for them. Make a game of putting things back in their place. Just a reminder that whether you’re actually playing with the children or supervising them, keep them within safe play areas, preferably within your sight. Keep them away from potential danger areas in the home such as the kitchen, bathroom, workshop and storage areas. They move fast, so you will have to be able to move even faster!

Before bedtime, calm children down. Don’t play active games. Rather, play a quiet game, or read them a book (not a scary one!).