Written by SMH Mother-Baby Nurse Sheera Thomas
With summer break just around the corner, my teenage daughter is working feverishly to line up babysitting jobs. She loves children and is eager to make her own money, so babysitting has been the perfect way for her to earn her own money.
With a few years of volunteer babysitting under her belt—at a church daycare and near our home—my daughter took a babysitter certification course and soon was on the hunt for paid babysitting gigs.
I, however, do not love the idea of my little girl in a stranger’s home, so I always insist on meeting with the parents before she accepts a job. To help us both navigate this new opportunity safely and comfortably, I turned to the American Academy of Pediatrics
(AAP) for guidance.
The AAP publishes a checklist for babysitters
, highlighting important considerations prospective babysitters should make before accepting a job. We found this tool very helpful and wanted to share it with other parents and teen sitters.
Here are some AAP babysitter tips: (For a printable checklist, click here
Tips for Teen Babysitters
Get the names, address and cell phone numbers of the parents or guardians you’re considering babysitting for. Your parents / guardians should meet with them, if they aren’t already acquaintances.
Let family, friends and neighbors know you are available to babysit, but don’t put up flyers or ads in public places. Although most people seem nice, you do not want to make it easy for a stranger to find out your age or address.
If someone you don’t know contacts you, ask who referred them and if you can call them back; then, confirm the referral. Accepting a job from a stranger is not as safe as sitting for a neighbor or trusted friend. If you feel any doubt, feel uneasy or fearful about a person or a situation, refuse the job.
Before you say yes to a job, get specific details and instructions: the number of children, their ages, bedtimes, allergies, medications, routines, whether there’s a home alarm system (and how it works, if so), and what their expectations are for you as the sitter.
Ask questions and discuss details. This will make both you and the parents feel more confident. Also discuss details with your own parents.
Always be sure your parents know: when and for whom you are sitting; the phone number and address of where you’re babysitting; and what time and how you will get home. It’s best to arrange your own transportation, but if your family member isn’t bringing you home, always let your parents know when you are on your way.
NEVER accept a ride from someone who has been drinking or taking drugs.
Never walk home from a night job alone.
Consider a code word with your family. If you call and say the code word, they know to come get you right away.
Let the parents know you are expected home at a specific time and ask that they call if they are running late.
Call the parents if any problems arise, such as: a child is crying for longer than 20 minutes and you don’t know what is wrong; a child gets hurt or sick; any situation you feel you can’t handle. Have a backup plan if you can’t reach the parents, including calling your own parents for advice or assistance.
SMH Mother-Baby Discharge Facilitator and Lactation Consultant Sheera Thomas, RN, has been an OB nurse for more than 20 years. She is an internationally board-certified lactation consultant, a certified childbirth educator, and—perhaps her most demanding role—a mother of four.