is a great way to earn money, help
neighbors and gain some job
experience. But it's also a big
responsibility to be in charge of
someone else's children in an
unfamiliar home, and it can be a bit
scary. Here are some tips to help
you be a first-rate baby-sitter.
Before you start:
only for people you know or who
have been referred by a friend.
Answering newspaper ads is not
as safe as agreeing to sit for a
friend of the family. When
someone asks you to baby-sit,
find out what time the parents
expect to be back and tell them
how much you charge and what
time you have to be home.
Discuss how you'll get there and
Leave the name, address and
phone number of where you'll be
sitting with your parents or a
trusted friend. Tell them what
time your employer expects to be
Before the parents leave, have
them write down the name,
address and phone number of
where they will be.
You should know emergency phone
numbers like 911 and the poison
Have the address of where you
are baby-sitting next to the
Make sure you have a neighbor or
relative and the family doctor
phone number in case of
emergency where you can't get a
hold of the parents.
Be sure you know the locations
of all phones in the home in
case you need one quickly.
If there is an alarm system,
learn how to use it.
Know how to work the window and
door locks in the house. Use
Make sure to turn on the outside
Ask about smoke alarms and fire
extinguishers. If you are in an
apartment, find out where the
emergency exits are.
Ask about the children's
bedtimes, favorite toys and
stories and what they eat.
Check on food allergies or
Find out what you are allowed to
eat and drink.
Get permission and instructions
on using the VCR, stereo and
On the job:
Be sure to clean up after the
children and yourself. Wash all
dishes, cups and utensils that
you use, and put all toys back
where you found them.
Don't tie up the phone talking
to your friends. Your employers
may want to check in or call
about a change in plans.
A friend should not come over to
keep you company unless your
employer agrees in advance that
In an emergency:
If you suspect a fire, get the
children and yourself out of the
house. Go to a neighbor's or a
public phone and call the fire
department. Then call your
Stay calm. Children probably
won't panic if you don't.
Special Tips for Daytime
If you have children out in the
back yard, make sure the front
door is locked.
If you take the children for a
walk or to the park, lock all
doors and windows before you
Be sure to take the keys and
some change with you in case you
need to use a pay phone. Also,
make sure you take your
employer's phone number with
Never take the children to a
deserted park or out alone after
dark. Be wary of strangers. If
you feel uncomfortable in a
situation, take the children and
If anything seems unusual when
you return to the home -- like a
broken window, a ripped screen
or an open door -- don't go in
the house. Go to a neighbor's
home or a public phone and call
the police. A call to 911 or the
operator is free.
When the job is done:
Tell your employer if anything
unusual happened -- a strange
phone call, noises, a stranger
at the door.
Call your parents to let them
know if your employer is going
to be late coming home.
Be sure you are escorted home.
If your employer cannot walk or
drive you home, or if he or she
seems to have been drinking, ask
someone from your family to come
for you. Never go home alone at
night from a baby-sitting job.
If your employers are unreliable
-- always late, often
intoxicated, etc. -- don't baby
sit for them anymore.
Find out when the parents will
Make sure you know where they
will be and the phone number
where you can call them.
Write down the street address
and phone number of where you
are baby-sitting and keep copies
of it near every phone.
Have emergency phone numbers for
police and fire near every
Include the number of a neighbor
on your phone list.
Ask parents about television, videos, video
games, bedtime, play and food rules for the