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Babysitting is a serious responsibility and sitters should be prepared. National Safety Council, Nebraska first aid and CPR instructors have complied a list of the most important skills all sitters should learn.

1. How to Safely Market Your Services

Most sitters begin with a word-of-mouth marketing strategy to promote their services. The safest option is to create a referral system with familiar clients such as family, friends, and neighbors. Sitters should avoid advertising their services in public places and should be careful when using social media and the internet. A sitter is often still an adolescent so collaboration with a parent or guardian is highly recommended.

2. How to Speak to Adults to get Important Information Before They Leave the Home

Sitters should be prepared to ask parents and guardians about acceptable entertainment, food and eating times, guidelines for outdoor play, bedtime routines, discipline practices, and the existence of allergies or illnesses. Sitters and parents/guardians are encouraged to meet before the job to discuss these practices and sitters should feel comfortable asking questions. The sitter should also ask for the family’s fire escape route.

3. How to Call 9-1-1 and Respond in an Emergency

Sitters should know when and how to call 9-1-1 in an emergency. The sitter should be able to relay pertinent information to responders such as the address, what happened, and what is being done until help arrives. The sitter needs to stay on the line until the operator says he or she can hang up. A sitter should remain calm and continue to supervise the other children.

4. How to Prepare or Provide Nutritional Food to Children and Infants

Sitters should discuss with parents to know if they are expected to cook or prepare any bottles or meals. Parents should show them how to prepare the bottle or use any appliances before they leave. If bottle feeding, the sitter should test the milk’s temperature, find a comfortable place to feed, and hold the bottle so the milk covers the nipple to prevent the baby from swallowing air. Babies need to be burped as well. Asking the parent/caregiver to demonstrate a feeding routine or taking a babysitting course is a way to master these skills.

5. How to Deal with Waste

Sitters should know how to change a diaper if working with infants. With children, it is recommended to speak to the parent/caregiver to know the child's current stage of potty training or independent bathroom routine.

6. How to Provide Basic First Aid

Although prevention is preferred, accidents and injuries do occur. A sitter should be able to distinguish between an emergency that requires immediate medical attention, and those minor injuries that can be addressed at home. Minor cuts, bruises, and burns can all be taken care of by a sitter with proper training. It is recommended that sitters take a babysitting or first aid course offered by a recognized safety training provider.

7. How to Identify Choking Hazards and Provide Help if Needed

Children should not be left alone with small objects. Food given to small children should be cut into tiny pieces. Typical foods that become hazards include whole grapes, raisins, popcorn, hot dogs, nuts and hard candy. Toys such as balloons, marbles and game pieces are also dangerous. A trained sitter can give abdominal thrusts to a choking child or perform the proper procedure for an infant that he or she learned in a babysitting course.

8. How to Entertain Children with Safe and Age-Appropriate Activities

Sitters should learn to identify which toys and activities are appropriate for certain age groups. The activity may contain choking hazards or be inappropriate for the developmental skill set of the child. The content of some video games, movies or television shows may not be suitable for all ages.

9. How to Deal with a Crying Baby

Crying babies can be frustrating for a sitter, especially if efforts to calm the baby are unsuccessful. Babies cry for many reasons such as a full diaper, empty bottle, air in the stomach, change in surrounding, and tiredness. Walking, rocking, talking with the baby can help. A pacifier may be helpful. If it seems like nothing is working, it is okay to put the baby in a safe spot like the crib or playpen and walk away for a few minutes. Remember to never react by shaking a baby.

10. For Older Sitters, How to Safely Transport Children

With 8 out of 10 car seats used improperly, sitters who transport children should work with the parents/caregivers to learn the correct installation and/or use of the seats. Common misuse by caregivers include the harness being too loose, incorrect recline angle, chest clip too low, and incorrect installation.

To learn these important skills and more, attend a babysitting course today. National Safety Council, Nebraska offers babysitting training once a month on the fourth Saturday of the month and more frequently during school vacation times.

Please visit to learn more or to register. The class includes lunch and a certificate of completion. For teens older than 15, the National Safety Council, Nebraska recommends taking its certification course in Pediatric First Aid & CPR. 

Jaclyn Ostronic

from National Safety Council, Nebraska

Jaclyn Ostronic is the Safe Communities Program Coordinator at the National Safety Council, Nebraska. She manages the emergency and child care courses at the council and is a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician and first aid instructor. Her outreach also includes promoting community safety for bicycles and fireworks. She has a degree in Public Relations and Spanish from Marquette University. Her focus is providing public health and safety education to diverse audiences. ...

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