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Teen Health

Babysitter Safety: What You Need to Know

Must-have information for teens who babysit.
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Are You Ready to Babysit? continued...

Your safety is also on the line. You need to think about whether you feel safe with the family you’re sitting for, what you would do if a stranger showed up at the front door, and how you’re going to get home afterward.

Along with being mature and responsible, you also need to:

  • Like kids
  • Understand kids
  • Have a lot of patience

If you have all of these traits but you don't know much about babysitting, some training can help.

Before You Babysit: What You Need to Know

Would you know what to do if you were babysitting and a stranger showed up at the front door? What would you do if the baby you were watching started to choke?

You'll be better prepared for any situation that pops up if you take a babysitter class. The Red Cross and Safe Sitter are two organizations that offer babysitter training courses for kids ages 11 and up.

Babysitter training goes through all of the situations you might encounter while on the job. "It's empowering them to make decisions for their own safety and for the safety of the child they're watching," Herrholz says.

Taking a babysitter class might even help you get a babysitting job. A Red Cross survey found that parents like to hire babysitters who have gone through training and who know how to handle emergencies.

At a babysitter training program, you'll learn how to:

  • Interview for a babysitting job
  • Set your rate
  • Feed, care for, and hold a baby
  • Handle an emergency like an injury, sickness, or fire
  • Know when to call for help
  • Perform basic first aid
  • Discipline a child who misbehaves

You might also want to take a first-aid or CPR class so you can learn more about how to handle injuries. Usually when kids in a babysitter's care get hurt, it's something minor like a cut or scrape. But the next most common injuries are more serious, like burns, choking, and drowning, says Nicole M. Hackman, MD, FAAP. She's the author of the pre-teen babysitter study and pediatric chief resident at Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital.

A first aid class will cover how to care for injuries like cuts, scrapes, and burns. An infant/child CPR class will teach you how to help a child who isn't breathing.

At the end of the class, you'll get a card or certificate showing that you've been through the training program. Then you'll be ready to start looking for babysitter jobs.

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