An overview of babysitting basics

Babysitting beginners include both the one(s) providing care and the one(s) receiving the care. It also includes the parent(s.) There are basics for each of these groups.

The child(ren) receiving care for the very first time need an orientation. Of course, the parent and sitter must provide what the child needs in the way of basics. The child needs to be introduced slowly to the idea of another caretaker being responsible for them. They need to spend some time with the person who will be caring for them while the parent is around. The parent should have the potential sitter come over and spend time with the child before the time they will need the sitter. Let the child and the sitter play while the parent is involved in something else. Let this be an independent activity. Even if the child cries, the sitter and the child should be left to get acquainted. The child will adjust better if the parent doesn’t hover. After all, when the sitter is totally in charge, the parent won’t be around.

The parent has an obligation both to their child/ren and to the sitter. The parent should make sure the child has had exposure to the sitter prior to the sitting occasion. It would be great to expose the child to a couple of caretakers outside the family. This teaches the child that others are dependable for their safety.

The parent should also provide the sitter with as much information as possible about the child’s routines, such as sleep habits/times, eating habits, ways to be quieted, etc. If the child needs a particular lovey’ to sleep with, make sure the sitter knows. Let the sitter know if the child needs rocking or just put to bed, and whether they go to sleep peacefully or must fuss for a bit. Further, tell the sitter about any special ways to comfort your child. At the same time, trust that the sitter is dependable and knowledgeable (or don’t hire them) and know that other methods of comforting, etc. may be used. The child can adapt to other methods as long as he/she has had an opportunity to grow to trust the sitter.

The sitter should be confident in their ability before undertaking to sit for a child or children. Of course, there will always be that factor of nervousness at a first-time experience, whether it be the very first time to sit at all, or just the first time with a particular family. But, proper training in childcare builds confidence, as does repeated experience. There are classes at YMCA, community centers, Red Cross, some schools, etc. The sitter should look around and find as much training as possible. The very minimum should be training in basic child care and the basic Red Cross CPR training.

The beginning sitter should gain some experience by volunteering to sit with a child when an adult is available. This may be with family children, such as a niece or nephew or other young child. It could be with friends of the family or even with the potential babysitting client as well. The sitter should make sure that they have some supervised experience before beginning the sitting job.

The beginning sitter should have a plan for keeping records, such as phone numbers, special considerations, difficulty of certain clients, payment schedules, etc. A large index card with the information can be filed alphabetically by family name. That way, if the family calls, the sitter will have the information at hand. A parent will feel very assured if the sitter responds to a request for sitting my indicating he/she remembers about a special consideration, such as, “Does Johnny still need his carrots smashed with peanut butter?” That will let the parent know the sitter is professional about what he/she does.

The beginning sitter can do much to gain business with a good promotional package or flyer. The flyer should indicate any training, experience, rates charged, times available, and offer references. It should also include contact information, such as phone number and/or email address. Any special talents or provisions should be noted and highlighted. For example, if the sitter will sit overnight, it should be indicated in the flyer. Any extra qualifications, such as experience with sitting with medically fragile or special needs children should also be highlighted. Any extras will make it easier to obtain the first sitting job.

An important consideration for the beginning sitter, and for any sitter, is the reputation being built. Many sitting jobs are obtained through word-of mouth. If a parent highly recommends a sitter that sitter stands a big chance of obtaining more jobs. Many sitters have more work than they can cover just from recommendations by satisfied customers. And, don’t forget the satisfied customer includes the child being sat with. A happy child that loves the sitter will go far toward having a satisfied parent that will make a high recommendation.