What to Put on a Babysitter Checklist

Here's a handy list to print out for your babysitter

babysitter and children
Having a babysitter checklist is a good idea for everyone. Camille Tokerud/Getty Images

We've all had that moment when we're somewhere--a meeting, at the movies--when we suddenly think, "Did I remember to tell the sitter [how to reach me if cell phones go out/which neighbor to go to in an emergency/where the fire extinguisher is/etc.]?" Or you realize that you forgot to tell her where your kids' favorite snacks are or what they shouldn't have (no dairy before bed because they get upset tummies, for example).

The solution to all that second guessing and having to call home: a babysitter checklist.

Having a babysitter checklist is the perfect way to make sure your sitter has all the information she'll need at her fingertips. Whether your kids are with a trusted grownup or a neighborhood teen, having the peace of mind that your kids are safe and having fun while you're out is essential and invaluable. The next time you need to leave your kids with a sitter, make a list, review it with her, and post it in a central location that she can access whenever she needs it.

What to Put on Your Babysitter Checklist

  1. Your cell phone number (Ask her to put this in her phone so that she can access it quickly.)
  2. Where you can be reached--a land line phone number of the place where you will be--in case cell phone service is disrupted (And if you have a land line, you should also have a simple corded phone that plugs into the wall since most cordless phones won't work in the event of a power outage. BUT, be sure to check with your telephone provider to confirm that your landline will still work and that you'll be able to access 911 even in the event of a power outage.)
  1. Where the emergency kit for power outages and widespread emergency is (Speaking of emergency phones, be sure that your sitter knows where the emergency kit is, and pre-arrange a place to meet (such as a neighbor's house) in case all communication goes down.)
  2. List of emergency phone numbers (police, fire, poison control, pediatrician, local hospital, your pharmacy).
  1. Your address and directions to your house so that she can give this to the operators in case of an emergency
  2. Any medical information about your child (allergies, health insurance information, pediatrician's name and number)
  3. List of phone numbers of trusted neighbors, friends, and relatives who can be contacted in case she cannot reach you in an emergency (Let them know beforehand that you will have a sitter watching your kids and that they are on the emergency contact list.)
  4. Medical release form for your child's care in the event of an emergency
  5. Where the fire extinguisher is (Be sure to give your sitter strict instructions to leave the house with the children and call 911 from outside if the fire is anything bigger than something small that can be put out immediately with the extinguisher.)
  6. Where the first-aid kit is
  7. Go over basic first aid, such as what to do if your child chokes (Knowing CPR and first aid is one of the basics you will look for in a qualified babysitter when you interview sitters.)
  1. What to do if your child breaks a rule or misbehaves (It's a good idea to work out a plan of what your sitter should--and should not--do if your child does not listen or doesn't behave.)
  2. Any food allergies or restrictions (and what to do in case of an emergency or reaction to any foods, such as how much antihistamine to give or how to give your child and Epi Pen shot)
  3. Be aware of what foods are choking hazards (Kids under 4 should never be given large pieces of food, especially things like grapes, hard candy, popcorn, and hot dogs)
  4. What time you expect the kids to be in bed (and a list of their bedtime routines, such as bath and a favorite book)
  5. What TV shows, movies, or other tech content they can and cannot see (Your 7-year-old  may be psyched about watching that PG-13 movie, but make sure your sitter knows beforehand what is and is not approved by you.)
  6. Where she should and should not take the children (If you want her to take the kids to the park, discuss how she'll get there, for example. Be clear about what you expect and want--that kids get exercise, that they put on lots of sunscreen or that they get home before dark--so that there's no confusion about what's expected.)

Additional Checklist Items for Babies

If you have an infant, be sure your sitter knows the following:

  1. Put baby to sleep on her back to reduce the risk of SIDS
  2. Never give a baby honey (It poses a risk of botulism poisoning for babies under 1 year old.)
  3. Never leave a baby unattended, especially on top of a changing table or in the bathroom
  4. Never give a baby or toddler a food other than what you left specifically for her (expressed breastmilk, for example), and heat it very carefully and check the temperature before giving it to the baby.

Other Tips to Keep in Mind

If your babysitter is new, ask her to come at least 30 minutes to an hour before you have to leave so that she can spend some time with the kids and get to know them. (Or better yet, have her come and play for an hour while you are home on a day before she is scheduled to babysit.)

Don't expect your sitter to be your housekeeper. She is there to play with the kids and feed them and take care of them; she should not be expected to do housework (unless that's something that you agreed to pay her extra for and that she wants to do after the kids are safely in bed and sleeping).

Make sure you have set aside dinner and snacks (and lunch if she's there early in the day) for your sitter.

Be sure your sitter has a safe way to get home, especially if she is a teenager.

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