Selecting and Preparing a Good Sitter

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Humorous sitter stories abound in our home: There’s the evening the infant cried for an hour, and we returned mid-date, to find a very pale sitter with a screaming child still in her arms…she never came back. (She never wanted to.) Then there’s the story where the tornado was clearly in the back yard, and the sitter couldn’t get the baby gate open to descend to the basement, so she picks up both boys and carries them over the gate…(not certain which scenario was more dangerous, the tornado or the possible tripping down the flight of stairs!) But the last story had the most repercussions, where the sitter chose to watch a scary movie with the kids, and my then 3 year old couldn’t sleep alone for a year and a half, and still doesn’t like scary movies. (She didn’t come back either, but not because she didn’t want to…) FOR PARENTS, worrying about how to select a good sitter begins even before you become a parent! It’s just another of the endless questions parents must tackle. Here is a solid list of pointers from the American Academy of Pediatrics…plus a few added from me. PARENTS SHOULD: 1. Meet the sitter and check references and training in advance. 2. Be certain the sitter has had first aid training and knows CPR. 3. Be sure the babysitter is at least 13 years old AND mature enough to handle your kids and common emergencies. The age may need to be reconsidered if you have older children. 4. Have the sitter spend time with you before babysitting to meet the children and learn their routines. 5. Show the sitter the house. It’s important they know where fire escapes, basement or inside rooms for tornado warnings. 6. Discuss feeding, allergies, bathing and sleeping arrangements. (With our teenage sitters, when our boys were not infants anymore, we always gave the sitter a “pass” on the bathing situation, especially if we could bathe them prior to our leaving or the next day was an option.) 7. Have emergency supplies available, including flashlight, first aid chart, and first aid supplies and make certain to show the sitter where they are in your house. 8. Tell the sitter where you’re going, and when you plan on returning. Leave your phone numbers and 911 emergency number, and 211 general helpline number BY the phone. 9. Be sure guns, alcohol and other drugs are locked away. 10. Discuss expectations regarding the sitter’s friends visiting; how to handle callers and other visitors. Safe Sitter, Inc. program has excellent tips for sitters, and website to check: Blog written by Carol Cochard Pool, MSW Prevention Educator, Prevent Child Abuse IN

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