Babysitter’s Checklist

Contributed by Sonia Frischmeier
Member, Chapel Hill/Carrboro Mothers Club

My children are 5 and almost 3 and very independent. They can communicate their needs with their sitter, who has been with us for eight months, and that is very reassuring. But I do find myself taking for granted that everything will be fine, and most times we simply leave cell phone numbers with our regular babysitter and a few instructions on food and bedtime, if there are any variations that particular evening. At least I did until we had a power outage that lasted seven hours. My husband and I were enjoying dinner when our babysitter called to tell us there was no power and could we direct her to a flashlight and tell her how to turn off the incessant beeping of our alarm system! Of course, we rushed back home and relieved her of her charges but it was then that I realized how poorly we had equipped her to deal with any type of emergency, major or minor. The next day a first-aid kit, flashlight with spare batteries and complete list of emergency information was promptly compiled in duplicate so a set could be kept both upstairs and downstairs.

Preparing your babysitter to look after your child gives you peace of mind. As parents, we make sure our babysitter has the basic information: cell phone numbers and where we can be reached (i.e. restaurant, office, etc.). But you may consider compiling a babysitter notebook or checklist, which contains additional information on bedtime routines, house rules, and most important, emergency information. Even your seasoned babysitter will appreciate having a ‘go to’ book to find what she needs!

A simple 3-ring folder with a clear front pocket allows you to organize, file and update information as your children grow. Use the front pocket to slide in a checklist with details on where you will be, how the babysitter can reach you at all times, and what to do in an emergency. Inside the notebook, contents should be customized with sections on health and safety, house rules, naptime and bedtime routines, food preferences, TV viewing and sanctioned channels, video games, computer use, outdoor play, particularly important to point out rules if you have a pool, and other topics relevant to your child. You may also want to add a sheet on developmental goals your child is working on such as toilet training and how the babysitter can support them. These sheets can easily be updated as your child grows.

The “Health and Safety” section should have information on known allergies (especially to any medication), medical conditions, and insurance information for all members of the family; as well as clear instructions on what to do in an emergency with a list of phone numbers, including the hospital emergency or urgent care clinic, fire department, police department, your pediatrician, and your work phones, cell phones and/or pagers as well as phone numbers of neighbors and/or relatives to be contacted in an emergency when you cannot be reached.

You can also include information on emergency exits and where smoke detectors and fire extinguishers are located; show these to the babysitter when she first comes to your house. And make sure she knows where you keep the door keys in case your child locks himself or herself inside a room!

If the babysitter has to administer any medications, write clear instructions and dosages for each child’s medication. Show her the medicines and verbally instruct on her on how to give the medicines. Keep a first-aid kit handy with a thermometer, an antiseptic, band-aids and a pain reliever—again with clearly written instructions and dosage for each child. Make it very clear that the babysitter should not give any medication on her own, including pain relievers or fever reducers that have not been discussed with you. Tell the babysitter to call you immediately if your child has an accident, especially an injury to the head no matter how minor, or develops a fever.

Discuss any of your child’s allergies and how to handle an allergic reaction. If your child has an Epi Pen, include this in the first aid kit and instruct the babysitter on how to use it.

Basics for a New Babysitter
In addition to the notebook, here are a few simple steps to make leaving your child with a babysitter so much easier! Ask your new babysitter to come 30 minutes early so you can give her a tour of the house, going through each room and showing her what she may need in each. Use this time to discuss what she will need to do with and for the children, and what your expectations are. Depending on the age of your child, go over foods that can and cannot be eaten, house rules, including TV & computer use, show her where clothing, diapers and toys are kept and go over nap or bedtime routines, as well as ways to deal with any problems she may have. And last, go over house safety rules such as keeping doors and windows locked during your absence, home alarm systems, etc., and show the sitter where she can find a flashlight or two in case of power outages!