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Parents who need someone to watch their child for a time often hire a babysitter. They’re counting on you to be prepared and know what to do in different situations. These safety tips can help.

How Can I Get Ready to Babysit?

The most important part of babysitting is keeping kids safe. Being a good babysitter means knowing how to handle everything from a splinter to a real emergency. Here are some things to do before you start a babysitting job:

Learn about any medical conditions the kids have. Ask if the child has any food allergies or other conditions like asthma or diabetes. Think about whether you’re prepared to give medicine in an emergency. If you’re not comfortable babysitting a child with special needs or medical challenges, it’s OK to not take the job. Never feel pressured to babysit if you don’t feel you can handle it.

Plan how you'll get there and back safely. Will your parents or the people you’re babysitting drive you? 

Prepare your phone. Ask the parents to give you a list of emergency contacts before you arrive and put them in your phone. Make sure you have numbers for the child’s parents and doctor, fire department, police, and Poison Control. You can also ask for the names and numbers of the neighbors. Have the home address handy as well. 

Get a tour of the home. In case of a fire, it’s important to know where the exits are. It’s also handy to know the layout when you play games like hide-and-seek. 

Know basic first aid. Ask where the first-aid supplies are. If kids get a cut or scrape, you don’t want to waste time searching. It’s also important to learn the signs of choking and what to do if it happens. If there’s an accident while you’re babysitting, stay calm. This will help the child be less anxious.

Ask about schedules. What time does the child snack, have meals, bathe, nap, and go to bed?

Find out what’s off-limits. Ask how much screen time the kids are allowed. Which shows and movies have they seen too often or might be too scary? What about video games? Are there any rooms the kids shouldn’t go into? 

Learn what kids need at certain ages. If you’ll be caring for an infant, make sure you know things like how to change a diaper. You don’t want to have to watch a video on how to do it while handling a wriggling baby. If the child is a toddler, be aware of which foods are common choking hazards (such as hot dogs, grapes, raw carrots, nuts, raisins, hard or gummy candy, spoonfuls of peanut butter, chunks of meat or cheese, and popcorn).

Infants and toddlers like to put everything in their mouth, so you’ll need to always keep an eye on them. Ask the parents if there’s an area that’s been fully childproofed because that would be a safer spot for play.

What Babysitting Classes I Can Take?

The best way to prepare for things that might happen while babysitting is to take classes. Check out the local community center, hospital, and Red Cross. It’s also a good idea to take a first aid or CPR class so you’ll know what to do in an emergency. Some are even available online. This may also help you book more jobs because parents might feel more confident knowing you’re certified.

Besides classes, it helps to talk with experienced babysitters to see how they do things.

With proper planning, you and the parent who hires you should feel more at ease. 

Medically reviewed by: Marcos Di Pinto, Ph.D., ABPP-CN
Date reviewed: September 2023