You Can Do It!

By Mary Barmeyer O’Brien

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    Jesus said love ev’ryone;
    Treat them kindly, too.
    When your heart is filled with love,
    Others will love you.
    (Children’s Songbook, page 61.)

    Riddle: You’re asked to do a job—one of the most responsible jobs in the world. You will be caring for a human life. What is the job?

    Answer: Baby-sitting!

    Whether you baby-sit now or are looking forward to doing it in the future, one thing is certain—being asked to baby-sit is a compliment. It means that parents trust you. They know that you’re a responsible person. And they know that you’ll do a good job.

    Every baby-sitting job is different. A few important pointers can help you become a top-notch sitter in any situation!

    Be Prepared (see checklist on page 35.)

    Before you’re left in charge, find out where the parents can be reached and whom to contact in an emergency. Know where to find the telephone, emergency phone numbers, a fire extinguisher, a flashlight, and all exits. Get special instructions from the parents. Chances are, nothing will happen, but if something does, you’ll be ready.

    Your Most Important Task

    Your most important job as a baby-sitter is keeping the children safe. Small children can be quick. It takes less than a minute for a toddler to turn the door handle and run out into the street. A baby can swallow a bottle of poisonous cleanser in just a few seconds.

    Look around with a detective’s sharp eye. Are there broken, jagged toys that might hurt a child? Are all medicines, paints, and cleaning materials out of reach or locked up? What about small items, such as nuts and buttons, that a baby might put into his or her mouth and choke on? Are toilet lids down? Are matches out of reach?

    Be a Sherlock Holmes. Keep your eyes and ears open every minute! A baby-sitter who is doing homework, talking on the phone, or looking at TV can’t be paying enough attention to the children to prevent accidents.

    Baby-sitting Basics

    • Treat children pleasantly and with respect.

    • Learn what to do in an emergency (see checklist).

    • Never leave a small child alone, even for a minute.

    • Don’t let children play in the garage, toolshed, car, or street.

    • Leave the house as clean as you found it.

    • Don’t open the door to a stranger.

    • Watch the children every moment when they are near water.

    • Check on the children frequently after they’re in bed.

    Baby-sitting Babies

    Babies need special care. It is best to stay with babies only after you’ve had experience with them.

    It is important to follow the parent’s directions carefully when caring for a baby. Feed him only what the parent says—with clean hands—and always stay nearby. Don’t give him large pieces of food he could choke on.

    Never give a baby a bath unless an adult is near. Wet babies are as slippery and wiggly as fish!

    Babies love to put things into their mouths. They’ll pop in anything that looks interesting, including pins, dog food, and bugs. They need constant watching!

    When a baby cries, something is wrong. Look for clues. Could he need a diaper change? Is he too hot or cold? Is he hungry or ready for a nap? Perhaps he just needs some cuddling.

    Hard-to-Handle Situations

    Some children seem unmanageable. They don’t mind you or do as they’re asked. What can you do?

    Keep them busy! If they get bored, they’re much more likely to get into trouble. Think up new games and songs or read stories. Bring a play kit with you—a collection of toys, games, and books the child doesn’t usually play with.

    And be firm. Let the children know that you are in charge. Enforce rules about bedtime or naps. If a child misbehaves, you might try removing him from the room or situation, and involve him in something new. Listening to stories and singing songs, for instance, are almost always enjoyable changes for young children.

    A Big Job

    Children often look forward to being with a good baby-sitter. And their parents feel comfortable leaving them with someone reliable. Someone like you.

    Baby-sitting. It’s a big job. And you can do it!

    Baby-sitting Checklist

    Where parents can be reached:

    address: _________________________________________________

    phone number: ____________________________________________

    Time they will be home: ______________________________________

    Where you are baby-sitting:

    address: _________________________________________________

    phone number: ____________________________________________


    Emergency phone number: 911

    Other emergency numbers:

    Neighbor name: ____________________________________________

    phone number: _____________________________________________

    Doctor name: ______________________________________________

    phone number: _____________________________________________

    Fire: _____________________________________________________

    Police: ___________________________________________________

    Poison Control Center: _______________________________________

    Special Instructions: __________________________________________ _________________________________________________________

    Illustrated by Shauna Mooney Kawasaki; Photo by Maren Mecham