100 of the Best Babysitting Tips Ever
Becoming a babysitter is a big deal, and is not a job to be taken lightly. Parents are leaving you in charge of the most important people in their lives – their precious children. To help prepare you for this awesome responsibility, it’s important to educate yourself thoroughly on the ins and outs of childcare. You can do so by taking a babysitting course through the Red Cross and reading child safety books. Learning CPR for infants and children is also a valuable asset to add to your resume. To help you learn even more about the intricacies of this job, we’ve compiled a list of 100 different blog posts that are stock full of babysitting tips. You’ll learn fun snacks and dinners to prepare for the kids, different games and crafts for all ages, ways to keep kids safe under your care and more, ensuring you perform the best job possible every time you’re babysitting.
Fun Snacks to Make
Whether you are babysitting after school or for a few hours on the weekend, it’s always a good idea to have a few snack ideas on hand. Before preparing any snacks or food for kids, you’ll need to check about any potential food allergies they may have or any foods that may be off limits per the parents’ instructions. The snack ideas in these 10 blog entries are simple and fun, and are sure to be a hit among the smaller set.
- You can make the kids a smoothie with ingredients the family has on hand, suggests Weelicious.
- Try making these tasty chocolate covered pretzels from Girl’s Life.
- Cut cheese into cubes, use pretzel sticks as skewers and let the kids build the snacks before they eat them, says eHow.
- Get the kids to help you whip up some quesadillas. Chop up a few different veggies and meat, get out the grated cheese or cheese slices and let the kids build their own quesadilla, then warm it in the microwave for a quick and simple snack from Simple Recipes.
- A grilled cheese sandwich is easy to make and packed with calcium and protein. Watch the video from Kraft Recipes.
- Cheese and crackers are always a hit, but this time up the ante by taking miniature cookie cutters and cutting fun shapes out of the cheese slices, recommends The Bump.
- Babble suggests making a caterpillar out of a banana, pretzel sticks, peanut butter, coconut and a couple mini chocolate chips.
- Serve up a turkey for snack time by using a mini round of cheese and some imagination; you can find ideas on Living Locurto.
- Bring some snack butterflies with you when you babysit and both the kids and parents will think you are a rock star; follow the directions on Juggling with Kids.
- For a bit of fun, serve the vegetable flower with ranch dressing shown on Spoonful.
Simple Dinners to Make
If the parents are going out for dinner, you may be expected to feed the kids. Be sure to ask the parents before they leave if the kids need to be fed and if there’s anything specific you should make them. Often, parents will make prior arrangements for dinner, like ordering pizza. If you will be expected to make something for the kids, however, you’ll want to make sure you know how to work the microwave or the stove prior to your job. These 10 sites have simple dinners that are perfect for babysitters, and several need only the microwave.
- Have the kids make individual pita pizzas using squeeze bottle pizza sauce and pre-shredded cheese for a meal that doubles as a fun activity, says From Ministry to Motherhood.
- Looking for something fun and different to make? Try Octopus Hotdogs on a bed of Seaweed, which you can find on Taste of Home.
- Most kids like nachos, so if you can throw together some cheese and chips and warm it in the microwave then you’ve got a pretty tasty dinner; directions found on Food.
- Whip up some Pigs in a Blanket for the kids using the step-by-step pictures on WikiHow.
- It doesn’t get much simpler than spaghetti and jarred marinara sauce! If you want to make your own sauce, try the simple recipe found on Key Ingredient.
- Try these baked potatoes from Betty Crocker – you won’t need to use anything other than the microwave!
- Make the kid favorite dinner of mac & cheese, but take some help from the microwave to speed things along. Find the recipe on Oprah.
- Ravioli doesn’t have to be a stovetop meal; instead, cook it in the microwave per the instructions from Delish.
- Kids often like things they can eat on toothpicks. Check out this recipe from Parents for sweet and sour meatballs made in the microwave.
- If you want to avoid cooking altogether, try this no-cook Cape Cod Turkey Pitas recipe found on Family Circle.
Games to Play with Toddlers
As the babysitter, it’s your job to keep the kids entertained. Most kids will have their own toys to play with, but playing with you will be more fun. Before the parents leave you’ll want to find out what their rules are on screen time so the kids don’t try to take advantage of you and watch TV for the duration of your visit. The more active you can get the kids the more tired they will be when bedtime comes. You’ll also want to research age appropriate games to keep everyone engaged and entertained. These 10 games work well for toddlers and preschoolers.
- Sing simple, silly songs like Wheels on the Bus and Old McDonald, suggests Scholastic.
- Play trashcan basketball using balls of newspaper. According to Kidspot, this works on a toddler’s hand/eye coordination and is tons of fun.
- Roll a ball back and forth with the toddler or blow up a balloon and try to keep it from hitting the floor, suggests Baby Center.
- Gather up some clothespins and a can with a lid and create a game where the toddler stands over the open can and drops the clothespins into the can. You can store the clothespins in the can when you’re not playing, says Family Education.
- Bub Hub says a fun game to play with toddlers that doesn’t take any special equipment is Simon Says.
- Grab a bag and put a few items from around the house in it, suggests Raising Children. Ask the child to reach into the bag and feel an item, then describe it to you and guess what it is without looking at it.
- Bring some chalk with you to your babysitting job and draw a hopscotch board on the driveway or sidewalk, then encourage the toddler to jump from space to space, explains Huggies.
- Go to the cupboard and grab three identical plastic cups, then find something small like a bouncy ball or coin to play the shell game. Put the coin under one of the cups and move the cups around, then ask the child where the coin is. You’ll find further instructions on Counting on Me.
- Suggest having a tea party with the toddler and her stuffed animals. According to What to Expect, this teaches toddlers to share and use their imagination.
- Make your own puzzle. Are you fixing mac and cheese for supper? After supper take the front of the box and cut it up into shapes and see if the toddler can piece it back together again, suggests The Stay at Home Mom Survival Guide.
Games to Play with Preschoolers and Above
If you’re watching older kids, you’ll probably need a few games on hand that are a little more involved. The games on these 10 blog posts will work well for preschoolers and elementary aged kids. Every kid has different likes and dislikes, so it’s important to have a couple different games ready to play. Make a list of these games and take them with you when you go on your next babysitting job.
- This game will surely make the kids giggle when you ask them to pick up things with only their toes and put them in a bucket, says Code Name Mama.
- The Parent Map recommends Freeze Dancing as a way for young kids to have fun dancing and work on listening skills.
- Create a mini car wash where you and the child put all of his toy cars into the tub and wash them with watering cans, suggests Parents.
- Hide a small object and then give step-by-step directions on how to find it, as explained on Education.
- Using supplies you already own, make up some fish and a fishing pole that you can bring with you when you babysit and set up a fishing game for the kids to play. For instructions, read Preschoolers.
- Grab some paper and pencils and play games like hangman, dots and squares and others with the preschoolers you are babysitting. These ideas and more can be found on Today’s Parent.
- Run for Colors is a game that will get the kids active. For details on how to set up and play this game, check out Voices.
- Take the kids on a scavenger hunt around the house or to the park if you can, suggests Squidoo.
- Include a deck of cards in your bag of tricks that you bring with you on babysitting jobs and ask the kids to sort the cards into two piles or four piles, explains Preschool Express.
- If you’re looking for a simple game to play, try “What’s Missing?” Put several things on the table, have the child close his eyes, then take one item away and ask him what’s missing? Further directions can be found on A Place of Our Own.
Crafts to Make with Preschoolers
One fun activity to do while the parents are out is crafts, so you may want to bring along some craft supplies to your next babysitting job. If you know the project will be messy, you may want to also bring along a vinyl tablecloth to cover the table before you start. These 10 crafts are suited for toddlers and preschoolers, though you may want to make sure that the toddlers aren’t still putting anything and everything in their mouths before doing some of them.
- Make and fly toddler paper airplanes and practice landing them on the runway, as described in this activity by Toddler Toddler.
- Fold some green paper into a frog puppet using the directions found on Enchanted Learning to keep the kids busy, then have a puppet show.
- Using some paper, scissors and glue you can help the kids make bunny ears that they can wear; you’ll find instructions on DLTK.
- Make bracelets the kids can actually wear using recycled plastic bottles or empty tape rolls and yarn. Check out Willowday to learn how.
- Create a shark out of paper and glue by following the steps on Easy Preschool Craft.
- Let the kids make a bird out of a paper plate and some folded paper. If you want the bird to be colorful, bring along some paint. Follow the steps on House of a Baby Piranha.
- Use what you have available. Make some snowflakes using cotton swabs and glue them on paper, says Busy Bee Kids Crafts.
- Take some cardboard tubes that you can keep in your bag of tricks and let the kids paint them and cut them in a coil to make snakes, as shown on Crafts by Amanda.
- Sometimes it may seem like the kids you are watching are a bunch of monkeys, so why not make the paper monkeys pictured on Mrs. Karen’s Class?
- Make a paper microphone and let the kids take turns singing songs like a talent show. Find instructions for the microphone on Sprout Online.
Crafts to Make with School Aged Kids
As kids get older they’ll need less direction when doing crafts. Try not to be critical if they aren’t making their project exactly as you had in mind. Remember, the point of the craft is to keep them busy and happy. Try out these 10 crafts with the older kids in your care. Make sure that you clean up everything before the parents come home.
- Make paper lanterns and hang them on a string across the room using the simple directions from Instructables.
- Ask the parents for some unmatched socks that you can use to make sock puppets and use the ideas on ABC Teach.
- Mix up a few colors of play dough and then let the kids use the play dough to make pretend cookies and other things. You’ll find a recipe for play dough on Playdough Recipe.
- Bring back the 70’s by making a homemade lava lamp with the kids using household ingredients. Find the directions on Come Together Kids.
- Punch out a bunch of paper circles in multiple colors and then make things from Mr. Printables with the kids.
- Bring along some colorful duct tape and paper sacks and you and the kids can make the fancy bags and purses shown on Eclectic Mom.
- Grab an old shoe box and create an under-water scene with the kids like the one shown on Activity Village.
- Take a walk with the kids and pick up rocks. Once you get back to the house, follow the instructions from Martha Stewart to make lady bug rocks.
- Using some yarn and a piece of cardboard, you and the kids can make tons of pom poms that can be strung together into a garland or glued into animals. Check out these simple steps for making pom poms on Parade.
- Combine a craft with a snack by letting the kids put together their own candy necklaces like the one shown on She Knows.
Bedtime Tips and Tricks
Bedtime can sometimes be a struggle for babysitters. Kids may try to stay up and wait for their parents to get home, or may just try to convince you that it’s OK if they stay up later. Talk to the parents ahead of time and find out what the bedtime routine is and if there’s any flexibility in the bedtime. You may want to ask if the kids sleep with anything special and where they are allowed to sleep. If you seem like you don’t know what you are doing, the kids may not cooperate. Read through these 10 tips and you should be able to handle most bedtime battles with ease.
- Make sure that you do something active with the kids so that they are worn out and ready to go to bed, says WikiHow.
- Always put babies to sleep on their back to avoid suffocation, explains Healthy Children.
- Start doing a quiet activity, like reading a story, doing a puzzle or watching a quiet television program, prior to bedtime to let the kids wind down, recommends Not Consumed.
- Encourage the kids to get into bed by telling them that you will read a story as soon as they’re in their PJs and under the covers, says Super Babysitting.
- Do your homework by asking about the kids’ normal bedtime routine, suggests Lauren Boston.
- Find out ahead of time if the kids sleep with any special toys and what the child calls that toy to avoid any mishaps at bedtime, explains Sitters Unlimited of Southern California.
- Ask the parents if the kids get a bedtime snack and use that as a bribe to get the kids to go to bed if they refuse to, says a reader on Askville.
- Avoid putting in a movie that won’t be ended before bedtime because that will make it more difficult to get the kids to go to bed, recommends Girls Life.
- Nurse Together suggests arriving early to your babysitting job to talk to the parents about house rules for the kids at bedtime.
- If you are babysitting kids all day, make sure you ask the parents when naptime is and how long you should allow the kids to sleep, explains Sensible Suggestions.
Safety Tips to Know
You are in charge when the parents are gone, so it is very important that you keep the kids in your care safe. Most of the time nothing will happen, but it’s best to be prepared just in case an emergency does occur. Make sure that you have emergency numbers handy and that you know what to do in case of a fire or a storm. The best way to keep the children safe is to keep an eye on them at all times while they are awake. After you put them to bed, check on them every 15 to 30 minutes to ensure everything is okay and that they are sleeping. These 10 tips will help you prepare for emergencies.
- Teens Health recommends having the parents fill out a health form about the kids before you babysit them.
- Check on the kids every 15 minutes after they go to sleep until the parents return, suggests University of Michigan Health Systems.
- Never open the door for a stranger while you are babysitting unless the parents have told you specifically that someone is coming over, says Children’s Safety Zone.
- Know the poison control center phone number just in case a child in your care ingests something that could be poisonous, explains Poison Help.
- Don’t leave a child alone while he is awake, recommends Virginia Tech.
- Make sure you know of two ways to get out of every room in case a fire breaks out in the home where you are babysitting, says Safety in Our Neighborhood.
- Once the parents leave for the evening, walk around the house to make sure there are no fire or safety hazards, like lit cigarettes or stove burners that have been left on, suggests Greater Sudbury.
- If you take the kids to play outside or at the park, keep a close eye on them and make sure they are playing safely, advises CVS.
- One of the most important safety measures you can take is to make sure you get emergency numbers from the parents ahead of time, urges Babysitting Tips for Pre-Teens.
- Have the parents give you a tour of the house and show you where they keep different safety equipment, like the first aid kit and fire extinguisher, recommends Lanark County Ambulance.
Organizing Babysitting Tools
One tip that can help you be an effective babysitter is to be well-prepared and well-organized. By maintaining a binder with your clients’ information, you can avoid making them fill out new forms every time that you babysit. This alone could make you their first choice for a sitter because it shows you take your job seriously. Another thing you can do is create an activity bag or box that you bring along to every job. This tote should include craft supplies, activity ideas, game ideas, fake money and a few prizes. You can give the kids fake money for being well-behaved throughout the evening and then let them buy something from your prize stash at the end of the night. Check out more ideas in these 10 blogs.
- Create a babysitting notebook where you keep checklists, contact information and more from your clients. Find forms and more on Just Organize Your Stuff.
- Download the babysitting form from Organized Wife for your clients to fill out.
- Create index cards with important information about each family that you sit for and keep them on a key ring so that you can take the information along every time you sit for that family, recommends Everyday Life.
- Use some sort of planner or scheduling software like the one found on Scheduling to keep track of your babysitting jobs.
- Find a couple of cheap activities that you can put in your babysitting activity bag, explains Kolette Hall.
- Follow the instructions on Mother Huddle to create your own babysitting activity tote that includes craft supplies, activities, babysitting bucks and more.
- Get ideas on what to include in your babysitting bag from I’m an Organizing Junkie.
- Wendy’s Activities has downloadable forms, games, and songs that you can keep in your babysitting activity bag.
- Teen Librarian Tool Box has a few titles that might be good to include in your babysitting activity bag, such as The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton.
- Things in your activity bag don’t have to be expensive. You can download free coloring pages, make play dough at home and pick up trinkets at the dollar store. Find recipes and other suggestions on Suite 101.
Questions You Should Ask the Parents
Read through these 10 sites to learn smart questions to ask of potential employers. It may seem awkward to ask questions of adults if you aren’t one, but by asking smart questions you will be proving yourself to be responsible. Plus, you need to know the answers to certain questions in order to do your babysitting job correctly. Combine and print out a list of questions for each family that you babysit for and keep them in a binder, that way you will have the information you need for next time on hand.
- Ask how much you will be paid before you accept the job or inform the parents how much you charge, suggests Parenting.
- Before you accept a babysitting job ask how many children you will be watching, as well as their ages, names and when you will be needed, says Hub Pages.
- Ask pertinent questions about the kids, like what they like to do and if they have any chores that you need to be aware of, suggests Ezine Articles.
- Make it a point to ask about food allergies before the parents leave so you can avoid any potential emergencies, says Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children.
- Find out what the kids are allowed to eat and when you should plan on feeding them, recommends Bella Online.
- Make sure you know where the parents will be for the evening, that you have contact phone numbers and that you know who you should contact if you need urgent help, explains KFB.
- Ask the parents if their child is taking any medication and if you’ll be expected to give it to them, mentions Kidzworld.
- It’s a good idea to ask the parents how they would like you to handle the kids if they misbehave. Do they use time outs, take away privileges or do something else? Find these questions and more on Aladom.
- If you don’t know the people you will be babysitting for, it’s a good idea to ask for references, suggests Young People Can Help the World Too.
- You need to ask how you will be getting home after you are done babysitting. Don’t assume that the parents will give you a ride, explains Colorado Life Lessons.
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