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Babysitter Safety: What You Need to Know

Must-have information for teens who babysit.

Before You Babysit: What You Need to Know continued...

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.

Screening Your Employers

When you interview with a family for a babysitting job, you're not just telling the parents about yourself. You're also learning about the family and whether you want to work for them.

"If they feel uncomfortable in any way they should consider not taking the job," O'Donnell says. Look for these red flags that this isn't the babysitting gig for you:

  • You're going to be babysitting for four, five, or even more kids (especially if they're babies)
  • The parents make you uncomfortable
  • The kids are badly behaved
  • The house is a total mess
  • The parents insist that you do things you don't want to do (like cleaning the house, opening the door to strangers, or cooking)

Before you accept the job, talk to your parents. Make sure they're also cool with the family that's hiring you.

Do a Trial Run

Once you accept the job, try it out. Watch the child (or children) while one or both of the parents is still at home.

A trial run will let you rehearse all the responsibilities you'll have when you sit for real. "It gives the babysitter some confidence of not only the routine and where things are, but also that they can do it," Hackman says.

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