A person, often a teenager, who provides temporary, occasional child care services.
The term babysitter is usually used to describe someone who provides occasional child care for a few hours at a time. Most families provide the babysitter with general guidelines about bedtime, acceptable activities during the parents' absence, and instructions on who to contact in the event of an emergency. Young people who are interested in providing babysitting services often take advantage of resources available through the public library, community service department, school, or the American Red Cross to learn the basics of babysitting. Books and videotapes are also available, and outline techniques and strategies for safe and successful babysitting.
The American Red Cross provides a certification course for babysitters. Young people over age 11 are eligible to enroll in the eight-hour training course, offered at a variety of community organizations and schools. Some organizations underwrite the cost of the course and offer it free to participants; others charge a fee. The course provides instruction in supervision of children, activity planning for children of all ages, accident prevention, emergency response techniques (including what to do in a choking emergency), and job hunting strategies. All participants learn about the role and responsibilities of babysitters, and receive a workbook.
Parents should consider instructing babysitters in the following procedures:
- Ask the babysitter to arrive early, especially for the first assignment, to get acquainted with the child or children
- Review important phone numbers with the babysitter
- Describe the child's routine, including bedtime, approved snacks, toileting habits, comfort objects needed for bedtime
- Set guidelines for the babysitter's personal behavior, such as personal telephone calls or friends visiting
- Describe safety and security procedures, such as what to say when answering the telephone, and how to secure all door locks
- Discuss any situations or behaviors that are likely to cause problems, such as temper tantrums, bed/nap time, feeding, etc.
Elliott, Ruth S. Minding the Kids: A Practical Guide to Employing Nannies, Care Givers, Babysitters, and Au Pairs. 1st ed. New York: Prentice Hall Press, 1990.
Fogerty, Mary Jayne. Babysitter's Companion: A Fill-in-the-blank Book for All Names, Numbers, Times, and Places You Want the Babysitter, Mother's Helper, or Anyone Who Takes Care of Your Kids to Know. Berkeley, CA: Tricycle Press, 1994.
Greene, Caroline. The Babysitter's Handbook. New York: Dorling Kindersley, 1995.
The Super Sitter. Washington, DC: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 1994.
Tauscher, Ellen O. The Childcare Sourcebook: The Complete Guide to Finding and Managing Nannies, Au Pairs, Babysitters, Day Care, and After-School Programs. New York: Macmillan, 1996.
Baby-sitting the Responsible Way. Charleston, WV: Cambridge Research Group, 1988. (One 30-minute videocassette and one manual.)
Super Sitters: A Training Course. Niles, IL: United Learning, 1989. (One 25-minute videocassette, one leader's guide, and one set of duplicating masters.)
Taking Care, the Complete Baby-sitter. Eugene, OR: New Dimension Media, 1988. (One 23-minute videocassette.) The Video Guide to Safe Babysitting. St. Louis, MO: Laclede Communication Services, 1988. (One 34-minute videocassette.)
Super Sitters Basics. Milwaukee: Super Sitters, Inc., 1988. (One 30-minute videocasssette, one 30-page parents' resource guide, one 61-page sitter's guide, and one 63-page emergency care and first aid manual.)
Spengler, George L., et al. Babysitting Basics. Kalamazoo, MI: Microcomputer Educational Programs, 1986. (Two 5-1/4 inch computer disks [for Apple Π, Π+, He, or IIc] and one manual.)