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Choosing A Babysitter

Whether you are looking for a babysitter while you work or for a few hours while you enjoy an evening out, there are some things you need to know about choosing a babysitter.

The process of choosing a babysitter can be a bit daunting but it is certainly doable. Begin by asking friends, family, neighbors, or co- workers who they would suggest as a reliable sitter. You can also ask your pediatrician or your local Red Cross.

Once youíve got a list of potential babysitters, youíll want to interview them. Youíll need to find out their experience and see how they interact with your children. If you have infants youíll need to make sure they have adequate experience with infants. First aid is always recommended for your sitter to have.

Once youíve conducted preliminary interviews, short list the potential babysitters that are left. Then have them come to your home and spend some time with the children. You should duck out to a position where you can see and hear but where neither the children nor the sitter can see you. This will give you an idea how the sitter interacts with the kids.

There are some basics a babysitter should know before being left to care for your children.

-You need to a full home tour with the babysitter so they are familiar with your home and where things are located.

-Cover emergency fire exits, emergency plans, and first aid treatments with the sitter.

-Make sure the babysitter knows where to find first aid supplies and fire extinguishers, as well as candles and flashlights incase the power goes out.

-If your child has special needs let the babysitter know. For example does your child wet the bed, have nightmares, or have allergies. Are there foods your child cannot have. Talk to the babysitter about these issues and also leave a printed list.

-Let your sitter know the rules of the house relating to TV, bed time, friends coming over, and snacks. Also let the sitter know what you consider acceptable discipline and what is not allowed.

-Leave a phone number where you can be reached, as well as two emergency contact numbers in case the babysitter is unable to reach you.

-Tell the sitter whether they are allowed to answer the phone or use the phone. Explain how you want messages taken and what they should tell the calling party.

Make sure your expectations are very clear. Donít be vague and leave the sitter unsure. Be specific about friends over, using the phone, and taking the children out.

You also need to cover some general safety rules with the babysitter.

-Leave specific instructions about medication and let the sitter know what medications they are allowed to administer without your previous consent, if any.

-Instruct the sitter not to leave your child alone even for a minute.

-Remind them of the dangers of water including the dangers of a bathtub where a child can drown in only a few inches of water.

-If your children are very young make sure the sitter understands about cutting food small and what foods or items can cause a choking hazard. Make sure the sitter understands the dangers of nuts, popcorn, and even raw carrots.

-Remind the sitter of hazards such as plastic bags, balloons, stairs, and a hot stove.

You should also leave a phone list with the sitter. The phone list should include:

-Where you can be reached

-Your cell phone number if you have one

-Poison Center, Police, Fire, and Ambulance

-Phone numbers of friends, neighbors, or family members that can help in an emergency

-Make sure the list also has your home address and phone number. In an emergency a babysitter may become flustered and forget.

When you return talk to your kids in a conversational way about their time with the babysitter. Let them tell you all about it! What they did, what the sitter did, if she was fun but firm, if she was mean. Your child account of the time will let you know if this is a sitter you can continue to use, if you have to cover some things but itís looking promising, or if you need to look for someone else.

Your babysitter is an extension of you, so be sure to take time and choose a good one. If your children are safe and happy you can relax and do what you need to do. Itís a win win for everyone!

Submitted by:

Rina Zeger

Rina Zeger has been a kindergarten teacher for more than 20 years and has 3 children of her own. She has also written several articles for a municipal magazine on raising children. At http://www.childcarenet.com, you can find these articles for free which include researched findings from experts all around the world.





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