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Babysitters: practical family checklist

Babysitters: practical family checklist

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The babysitter in your home: routines, rules and behaviour

Your babysitter and your child both need to know how you want things done when you're out. Here are some suggestions:

  • Explain your child's routines, particularly routines for meals, rest times and bedtime.
  • Give the babysitter information about managing behaviour - for example, what to do if your child won't cooperate.
  • Let the babysitter know what to do if your child gets upset or wakes up after going to sleep.
  • Explain the rules of the house that might apply to your child - for example, eating only at the table, or no screens after 6 pm.
  • Explain rules that might apply to your babysitter, like no eating on the lounge.
  • Say if you don't want the babysitter to do certain things, like bathing your child, having visitors or going out in the car.

Not sure how to find the right babysitter for your family? You can start by asking other parents if they have any recommendations.

Safety for the babysitter and your children

Tell the babysitter where you're going and when you'll be back, and clearly display:

  • your mobile phone number
  • the number of another trusted adult in case the babysitter can't reach you
  • the 000 number
  • phone numbers for the local doctor and poisons information.

Medical issues

  • Give the babysitter information about any medical issues - for example food allergies, food intolerances or asthma.
  • Ensure the babysitter is OK to give your child any medicine your child needs. The sitter also needs to be comfortable with your child's allergy or asthma plans.

General safety

  • Show the babysitter where you keep your first aid kit, fire extinguisher or fire blankets.
  • Explain bath safety, especially safe water temperature and the need for constant supervision.
  • Make sure the babysitter knows about safe sleeping.
  • Explain that the babysitter should supervise your child in the kitchen, and while your child is eating.
  • Make sure the babysitter knows to keep hot drinks out of reach of your child.
  • Show the babysitter how to use the oven or stove top safely.

Transport safety

  • Show the babysitter how to open and use your pram.
  • If driving your children is allowed, ensure the babysitter follows your rules about car safety.
  • If the babysitter is using her or his own car, check there's a seat suitable for your child.

Second-hard and third-hand smoke is harmful for children so it's best to consider a non-smoking babysitter. Also, make it clear that no alcohol or other drugs are allowed while the babysitter is looking after your child.

Preparing your child for babysitting

Even children who are used to spending time away from you can make a fuss if you're going out and leaving them with a babysitter. Try these tips:

  • Organise for your child to meet the babysitter ahead of time, if possible.
  • On the day the babysitter is coming, let your child know that someone else will be looking after him, and for how long.
  • Prepare some special activities, or let your child stay up a little later than usual. This can help make the event something your child can look forward to.
  • Give your child something special or important to show. Showing the babysitter a doll, a drawing or a favourite photograph can ease the first few moments.
  • Let your child play host. For example, she could show the babysitter how to work the TV, or even explain some house rules, if she's old enough.
  • Always say goodbye to your child. If you don't, your child might get upset once he notices you're gone. Let your child know what time you'll be home. Sometimes a child can be reassured if you say you'll come in for a kiss goodnight, even if he'll be asleep by then.

Making the babysitter comfortable

Take a bit of time before you leave to take care of your babysitter's needs while the babysitter is in your house:

  • Show the babysitter around the house. Explain door locks, light switches, heating and cooling systems, and where the telephone is.
  • Leave out a blanket, pillow and snacks for the sitter, as well as instructions for the microwave, TV and so on.
  • Be clear about your expectations of internet use. For example, if you don't want the babysitter to stream movies, say so.