Hiring a Teenage Baby Sitter

160620523It’s always great to have family or friends who will watch your child; but for many parents, the day will come when you have to hire a teenager to care for your child so you can run errands, go to a meeting or have that all-important date night. Choosing the right baby sitter will be very important for the well-being and safety of your child.

It’s always a good idea to hire a teenager who has completed a baby-sitting course. He or she should have a certificate to show you. This isn’t a guarantee for a great baby sitter, but it does tell you that this person has had some instruction on the basics of safety, first aid, child development and other important topics.

Baby-Sitting Classes

Is your son or daughter interested in learning about the basics of baby-sitting? Baby-sitting classes are periodically offer in the following Avera locations:

  • Sioux Falls, S.D.
  • Dell Rapids, S.D.
  • Le Mars, Iowa
  • Mitchell, S.D.
  • Aberdeen, S.D.

Visit Avera.org and click on “Events Calendar” to learn when a baby-sitting class will be offered near you.

Where Do I Find a Teenager Baby Sitter?

  • Look around your neighborhood for kids of baby-sitting age and talk to their parents.
  • Get a recommendation from family or friends.
  • Ask if your church has a list of baby sitters from their youth group.
  • If you know a middle school teacher, ask for a recommendation from him or her.
  • When you find a prospective baby sitter, take the time to interview the individual and ask for references from other clients.

What Makes a Good Baby Sitter?

  • The baby sitter should have basic knowledge of safety — how to answer the phone or door, what to do if the smoke detector goes off, how to deal with emergencies, etc.
  • Look for someone with maturity and common sense. Some states have a minimum age for baby sitters; South Dakota does not. It’s up to the parent to decide if a child is ready to baby-sit. We feel that 11 years old is the minimum age to allow a child to baby-sit.
  • Ask the prospective sitter to watch your children for an hour or two while you are home doing other things. This gives you a chance to see how the sitter interacts with your children and handles any situation that comes up.

The first time you hire a new teenage baby sitter, have him or her stop over a few days before to meet the children and get some instructions.

Safety Tips: What Your Baby Sitter Should Know About Your Home

  • Where will you be and how can the sitter reach you? Is there another person to call if you can’t be reached?
  • Your address and the number for the poison control center
  • How to operate the furnace, air conditioner or other appliances
  • How to lock doors and windows
  • The location of:
    • Smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers, and an exit plan for each room in case of a fire
    • First-aid supplies
    • The storm shelter, flashlight and battery-powered radio

Other Items Your Sitter Should Know

  • You will want to discuss discipline and how the sitter should handle misbehavior. Remember, it is illegal for a babysitter to spank, slap or otherwise physically discipline a child.
  • Give the sitter some basic information about your child’s personality, likes and dislikes, and any medical conditions or allergies.
  • Discuss whether the baby sitter is allowed to have friends over or make phone calls
  • Discuss whether or how the baby sitter is required to take care of pets

Basic House Rules

The more you can fill in your baby sitter on house rules, the less likely your kids will try to “pull one over” on them!

  • Rules for TV, computers, electronic games and movies — what and how much
  • Rules for having friends over and playing outside
  • Homework
  • Bedtime routines
  • Location of diapering supplies, extra clothing and pajamas

Information on Eating

  • Be sure to inform the baby sitter of any food allergies, or other allergies
  • Provide information on what to fix for meals and snacks, where supplies are located and how to make it
  • Show the baby sitter how to mix and warm the baby’s bottle

Phone Home!

A new issue with baby sitters today is cell phones. If you do not have a land line and your sitter does not have a cell phone, you will have to make a plan.

  • If you leave your cell phone with the sitter, make sure he or she knows how to unlock it and use it.
  • Program your home address and phone number into the phone. Unlike landlines, calling 911 from a cell phone does not always give your location to the emergency dispatcher answering the call.
  • If your sitter has his or her own cell phone, be sure this same information is programmed in, in case of an emergency.
  • Be sure you have the sitter’s cell phone number in case you have to call.

Finding a great teenage baby sitter who is mature and responsible, and one who your child loves, is like striking gold! Screening your sitters and giving them the information they need will not only ensure your child’s safety, but also give you some much deserved, worry-free relaxation time.

By Betty and Doniese

Family Life Instructors at Avera McKennan

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