Safety Tips for Baby-Sitters (Part 1): General Guidelines
Babysitting may be the perfect job for you. You can learn about having a job and managing money. You can also learn a lot about children, families, and safety. There are certain things that will be expected of you as a sitter, though. And there are also things that you should expect from parents. Before you begin watching children, be clear about safety.
As a babysitter, your job is to keep children safe. You need to:
- Stay alert and pay attention to the children’s environment at all times.
- Choose toys for children that are not dangerous.
- Make sure that children are playing with toys in a proper manner.
- Examine children’s products. Make sure they are in good condition and not dangerous for them to use.
Talk to Parents Before They Leave
- Ask if there are any conditions that may require special treatment. If so, ask how to provide them.
- Get important information, such as names and phone numbers. These include:
- Where the parents will be
- A friend, relative, or neighbor that lives close by
- The children’s doctor
- Fire department
- Police department
- Emergency medical help
- Ask the parents to show you through the house or apartment. You need to know where to find items you will need such as children’s clothing and toys. Be sure to ask.
- Find emergency exits.
- Ask parents if all potential poisons are locked up. This includes medicines, bleaches, and household cleaners.
Look for Potential Hazards
To prevent accidents, keep children away from:
- Electrical outlets
- Medicines, bleaches, and household cleaners
- Heaters, fireplaces, and wood stoves
- Places where children could trip or slip
- Glass doors and windows
- Small items that could cause choking in infants and young children
Use Caution Around Stairs
Stairs can be dangerous for children. Here are some tips to prevent accidents on the stairs:
- Do not allow a toddler to play on the stairs.
- Remove all obstacles from the stairs so that no one can trip over them.
- If there is a gate across the stairway, check and make sure it is always latched. Do not let the children climb on them.
- Do not leave babies unattended in carriages, walkers, or strollers. This is especially important around stairs or ramps, indoors or outdoors.
Use Caution Around Doors and Windows
- Talk to children about the dangers of glass doors or windows. Do not let children ride a tricycle or bike too close to a window or door.
- Keep toys, scatter rugs, and other articles away from doors and windows. They could cause tripping.
- If you are caring for an active child, place a large piece of furniture in front of the glass. This may help keep the child away from it.
- Encourage parents to put large, colorful decals at eye level on glass doors. This can make glass doors safer for both children and adults.
- Keep doors and windows locked at all times.
- Never open the door to strangers. If there is a question about someone at the door, call the parents and check with them.
Prevent Falls During Diaper Changes
- Watch babies constantly. Babies can easily fall from changing tables or other high places.
- Have items like diapers and wipes nearby. Do not step away from the infant for even a second.
Avoid Bathing the Baby
Do not bathe the baby. In most cases, you can clean the baby’s skin with a clean facecloth in lukewarm water. Bathing a baby calls for extreme care and supervision. There is a risk of hot water burns and drowning. You may want to help the parents, but do not bathe the baby.
Infants and young children can choke on any small items they put in their mouths. To help prevent choking:
Keep these objects out of an infant or young child's reach:
- Small pieces of food, including seeds
- Small toys or parts of toys made for older children
- Any other small object that could cause choking
- Take a first aid course before you start babysitting. If the child is choking, use first aid to clear the child's airway. If you do not know first aid, contact your local Red Cross office or a community agency. Contact your local American Heart Association office to learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). CPR is done during an emergency to help the heart pump blood until medical help arrives. Also, call for medical help right away.
As children climb and play, loose, baggy clothing can be dangerous. It can get caught on furniture, cribs, or playpens. Clothing can also be a problem if it gets tightly wound around the baby. Be alert for hazards such as these. Adjust clothing so that it cannot become tangled.
If the child becomes ill or has an accident:
- Call the parents for instructions.
- If the parents cannot be reached, call your own parents—or ask a neighbor for help.
- If the sick or hurt child needs care right away, call for medical help right away.
Other Articles in This Series
Consumer Product Safety Commission
Safe Kids Worldwide
About Kids Health—The Hospital for Sick Children
Canada Safety Council
Baby safety tips. Safe Kids Worldwide website. Available at: https://www.safekids.org/baby. Accessed November 2, 2021.
Babysitting: the basics. Nemours Kids Health website. Available at: https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/babysit.html?ref=search. Accessed November 2, 2021.
Caring for children 2: Babysitting basics. Virginia Tech website. Available at: https://resources.ext.vt.edu/contentdetail?contentid=1512. Accessed November 2, 2021.
Pediatric basic life support. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/management/pediatric-basic-life-support-bls. Accessed November 2, 2021.
Last reviewed November 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Last Updated: 11/2/2021