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Adventures in Babysitting: How to Hire a Great Sitter

Adventist Health Health and Wellness

School is back in session, and with that change of seasons comes the age-old question for parents: Who will watch the kids after school?

Plus there are the times when you need an evening out or a chance to do some shopping on the weekends. Do you have a babysitter in mind?

Qualities of a Great Babysitter

Whether you're hiring a teenager to babysit your young children or you have a teen who wants to babysit younger siblings or other people's children, you will want to know you've picked someone with the skill and knowledge to keep your children safe and happy.

Some of the qualities to look for in a babysitter include:

  • A love of children: Teens who have an instinctive interest in kids will be happier babysitters who, in turn, make a more enjoyable experience for youngsters.
  • Patience and creativity: Small children can be demanding and have short attention spans. Look for a babysitter who has the patience to work through whining and crying and redirect your kids to fun and imaginative ways to play.
  • Calm in stressful situations: If an emergency arises, will your teen babysitter be able to think clearly and make good decisions to keep your little ones safe?
  • First-aid skills: Make sure your teen babysitter understands how to handle emergencies like cuts, burns and choking. They'll be the one able to respond most quickly if an accident happens.

How to Prepare Your Babysitter

Once you hire a great babysitter, there are steps you can take to make sure they have the information they need to take the best care of your young ones.

Some parents make a binder of important information, which they leave in an obvious place like the kitchen counter. At the very least, be sure you have a clear list for your babysitter that includes:

  • Contact info for you while you're gone
  • Names and numbers for who to contact if you're not available and there is an emergency
  • A basic schedule, including when your child may need a nap, a snack or a meal
  • Your WiFi password, if you're comfortable with them using their phone or tablet while you're gone
  • Any special needs or considerations your child has

It's also a good idea to discuss payment ahead of time so everyone knows how much and when you'll pay your sitter. Also be clear when you expect to return-and if that changes, give your babysitter a quick call.

Better, Safer Babysitting

One way to be sure you're hiring a great teen babysitter is to ask if they've taken a babysitting course. These courses give young teens a wide range of information, from keeping young children happy and amused to handling emergencies and providing first aid.

If you know a teen age 11 to 14 interested in becoming a better, safer babysitter, tell them about the Walla Walla General Hospital Safe Sitter class.

When your teen babysitter has the skill and knowledge to be a safe and effective babysitter, you'll both be that much closer to peace of mind.