Weekend Away: What You Need to Tell a Toddler's Overnight Babysitter

Parents: Learn how to prepare your overnight babysitter.

Every parent needs a break from time to time. Now that your baby is a toddler, you and your partner might be ready to recharge with a weekend away. But the logistics of leaving a toddler with a babysitter overnight — even if that babysitter goes by the name of "Grandma" — are a bit more complicated than your typical night out. 

After you’ve book your tickets and packed your bags, use this list to ensure you’ve covered all of your bases with your overnight babysitter. The advance planning will make for a smoother trip with fewer interruptions from home. 

Your Travel Information

Plane taking off
Credit: Gregory Bajor

Leave your babysitter with the details of your travel, including flight numbers, take-off and landing times, hotel name and location, and an overview of a road trip. If the trip includes a big event, like a wedding or a concert, it can be helpful to provide this information as well. That way, the babysitter will have an understanding of where you are and if you are reachable should she need to contact you. 

Important Phone Numbers

You can ask your babysitter to program important numbers into her phone, but also leave a list in an obvious spot, like attached to the refrigerator. Include phone numbers for yourself and your partner, your child’s pediatrician, where you'll be staying, and a few neighbors or nearby family or friends who your caregiver can rely on for backup in case of an emergency.

Medical Information

Does your child have food or other severe allergies or take medication? Write this information down, including what your toddler is allergic to, what to do if a child has an allergic reaction, and medication dosages.

House Rules

If Grandma is coming to stay for a few days, you can bet that the rules will be a little relaxed, but you also don't want to come home to a Lord of the Flies scenario. Make sure Grandma (or any other babysitter) knows if there are rules about screen time, television shows or certain foods.

Instructions on Operating Electronics

Televisions, DRVs, DVD players, on-demand services, wi-fi — our lives have become electronically complicated. Leave detailed instructions for a sitter so that she can access these devices. 

Extra Essentials

Even if your toddler is potty trained, make sure your home is stocked with the essentials like diapers and wipes. That way, unnecessary trips to the store can be avoided. In addition, make sure clean towels, wash cloths and clothing are available. 

A Plan for Meals

In most cases, you probably don't have to provide your babysitter with an actual meal plan or any pre-made meals. Instead, make a list of easy items the child can eat at every meal. Things like eggs and toast for breakfast; fruit, cheese and crackers for snacks; quesadillas, pasta, mac and cheese, and sandwiches for lunch and dinner. Make sure your kitchen is stocked with these easy-to-make items. Also leave a few restaurant menus with the babysitter. If all else fails, she can call for delivery. 

A List of Places to Go

Arm your babysitter with information that will help her fill the days with fun toddler activities. Include destinations within walking distance like nearby parks, tot lots or splash pads if the weather is nice, as well as spots within close driving distance like play cafes, zoos and children’s museums.

A Schedule

Even if your babysitter is familiar with caring for your toddler, spending the night is a different story. Write out your daily schedule, including the time your toddler usually wakes up; breakfast, lunch and dinner times; and naps and bedtime.

Include information about your routines — do you read two books at bedtime and sing one song? Also include specific helpful information about your child. Is there a favorite toy he needs to fall asleep? Will she typically be cranky for a few minutes after nap time? The more information your babysitter is armed with, the more she’ll be able to understand what’s normal and what deserves a call to the parents. 

Accessible Emergency Items

The possibility of an emergency happening while you’re away is unlikely, but prepare your babysitter just in case. Make sure she knows where she can access things a fire extinguisher, a flashlight and a first aid kit

With these 10 items, your sitter should be well-prepared to care for your toddler while you're away. So, relax and take a much-needed break from the day-to-day demands of parenting a young child. 

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