Tips for leaving your child with a babysitter for the first time
From separation anxiety to finding the right caregiver, the first time you hire a babysitter for your child can be a challenging experience. It can also be scary for a parent as well as a baby, but it’s a natural step in the child’s development process and a way for a parent to get some well-deserved time off.
To help make that first babysitting experience a little easier, follow these helpful tips:
The hiring process: The most important part of hiring a potential babysitter is to ensure he or she is experienced in child care and has references from other parents. Whether your child is an infant or a toddler, make sure the potential babysitter can perform the type of child care required for your child’s particular age. You may also wish to find a babysitter that shares your family values in such areas as religion, substance use, etc. And to make sure it’s a good fit, it’s always a good idea to ask the potential sitter to spend time in your home for an initial meeting and to see if the sitter makes a good connection with your child.
Setting expectations: Once you decide to hire a sitter, make sure the sitter understands all of your expectations for child care. If you prefer your child has limited TV or computer time, make sure the sitter knows. If you want to prevent your child from snacking late or if your child has any other dietary restrictions, make the babysitter well-aware from the start. This is also the time to give house rules that you set, such as excluding any sitter guests or companion visits; what games are allowed; and if there are any other chores you might want done (laundry, dishes, etc.).
Emergencies: Make sure your babysitter is prepared to deal with any kind of emergency situation. Help prepare sitters by giving them emergency contact numbers, reviewing emergency procedures and detailing any medical conditions that your child may have. A good idea is to create a printed babysitter guide that includes all emergency information and any other details that will help the sitter be the best caretaker possible.
Routine: Along with house rules, make sure your babysitter knows your child’s routine, including meal time, bath time, bed time, etc. Make sure the babysitter knows what preferred water temperature to use in the bath and how to use a baby monitor if you have one. Also let the sitter know your child’s favorite toys, games and songs — things that can comfort a child who may be frightened being left with a new sitter for the first time.
Exit Strategy: After a parent or adult caregiver has made all the preparations for a successful babysitting experience, the hardest part will be the separation that both parent and child will feel. Instead of handing off a child to a babysitter, experts advise a more subtle departure, such as playing on the floor with your child and having the sitter get the child’s attention while you say a quick, non-dramatic goodbye. Once you leave, the sitter should then hold the child to make her feel secure. And as hard as it may be to see your child cry, parents should never return back inside to soothe a crying child because it will make the exit even harder.
Visit abcquality.org to learn more about child care and development, search for ABC Quality approved child care provider and learn about the state’s voluntary quality rating system. ABC Quality is administered by the SC Department of Social Services’ Division of Early Care and Education.
By ABC Quality Team at 29 Oct 2019, 11:00 AM