Ask the children to help you prepare the food. Not only will this activity keep them busy, the chances are, they will eat whatever they make. Just make sure you don't make a mess.
Use a cookie cutter to cut out a heart or dinosaur-shaped sandwich. There are all kinds of different shaped cookie cutters you can get.
Have a teddy bear's picnic, or pretend to drive toy cars out to the country for a picnic. Put the food in a basket, then spread it out on a clean sheet of paper or a blanket. Sit around, laugh, talk, feed the bears, and have fun.
Make healthy snack choices like fruits or fruit snacks, and offer the kids alternatives. Offering alternatives can help identify what kids like. Parent will love to know, because they can reduce waste and cut their grocery bills.
Put down some paper plates and get the children to make vegetable art using colorful veggies, like slices of bell pepper, celery, carrots, peas, and corn. You can add a healthy dip to get the kids to eat their veggies once the art work is done.
Think of other creative ways to make kids eat; you must know some from you childhood days.
Accept that the children may just not be hungry, and they are listening to their natural body hunger cues.
Different Age Groups
- Do make sure the baby is in a secure place, like a playpen, before you start preparing the food.
- Do get your instructions from the parents if you are feeding babies that are 6 or 7 months old, because you will have to puree everything they eat.
- Do check with parents about what to feed babies over 7 months old, even though they can handle food that is not pureed.
- Do feed babies slowly, or quickly, depending on how they want their food. They will be eager to eat if they are hungry, or may turn their head away when they are full.
- Do check the temperature if you are feeding the baby milk or formula, by sprinkling a few drops onto your wrist. If it feels hot, then it is definitely too hot for the child. Wait until it cools down a bit, and then re-check before feeding.
- Do burp the baby after feeding milk or formula. Burping helps get rid of air that babies swallow while feeding. If you don't burp a baby, it can lead to colic, and several hours of crying.
- Do ask the parent the best way to burp the baby.
- Don't leave children alone in a high chair, because they can wriggle their way out and fall down. Always make sure the child is securely buckled into the high chair or booster seat.
- Do always make meal time a happy time for the child.
- Don't let older children eat unhealthy snacks between meals, because they won't be very hungry at meal time.
- Do make sure older children are kept busy, either helping you prepare the meal, or in some activity while you prepare their meal.
- Don't let older children sit in front of the television while they eat. This is not a good idea, because it can lead to spills and lots of cleanup. Encourage them to help you set the table, and to sit there to eat.
- Do make sure their food is warm and they are comfortably seated, with no distractions.
- Do set up a good meal time routine and let everyone socialize during the meal.
- Do always make meal time a happy time, even for the older children.
- Do encourage them to help you clean up once everyone has finished.
- Do make sure food is soft and moist, so that a toddler can easily chew and swallow.
- Do make sure food is cut up, to avoid choking children.
- Do make sure children, age 4 years and under, are not given food that poses a choking hazard. For example: large pieces of fruit, grapes, gum, nuts, candy, hot dogs, or popcorn.
- Do make sure that the food served is not too hot, to avoid scalding.
- Do use cups, rather than glasses, to avoid accidental cuts if the glass should break.
- Do encourage children to eat at the table, rather than on the run, to avoid choking.
- Do join the children, if you can, by bringing your own food; or prepare something for yourself, if the parents don't mind.
- Do not allow children to snack on junk food or soda pop.
- Do be aware of any food allergies, or family food preferences the children may have, and make sure they cannot get at this food. For example: Some children have peanut allergies, or some families may be vegetarian.
The following should help make bath time easy, and a fun time for both you and the baby.
- Make sure the baby is in a safe place, like a playpen, while you prepare to give him/her a bath.
- Gather a clean wash cloth, soap, baby shampoo, baby powder or lotion, bath mat, clean clothes, new diaper, and a towel, and bring them to the bathroom.
- Prepare the baby bath; or, if you are putting the baby into the family bathtub, make sure it is lined with a bath mat, so the baby won't slip and hit its head on the tub.
- The recommended water level is four to five inches in the baby bath or tub, and the water temperature should not be more than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Centigrade.)
- Once the water is ready, bring the baby into the bathroom and undress him/her.
- Slowly, ease the baby into the bath so the baby's body adjusts to the water temperature.
- Dampen the wash cloth and gently clean the baby's face and neck.
- Gently shampoo the baby's head with a mild shampoo, and pour clean water over the head to wash away the shampoo. Avoid getting shampoo into the baby's eyes.
- After you have washed the baby's face and shampooed the head, dry the head immediately so the baby won't feel cold.
- You can now add soap to the wash cloth and wash the rest of the baby's body.
- Make sure that you don't let the soapy water get on the baby's face or in its eyes.
- Always make sure the baby is sitting up straight in the bath. Take the baby out of the bath before the water gets cold, and immediately dry the baby with a soft, dry towel. A towel with a hood would be great to keep the baby's head warm.
- You can now put lotion or powder on the baby, and put on the clean diaper and clothing.
- Always keep the baby warm after a bath.
- Make bath time a fun time for you and the baby by adding some toys.
- Do not turn on the taps while children are in the bath. Accidentally opening a hot water tap can badly scald a child.
- Do not leave the baby alone in the bath for any reason.
- Do test the water before older children take a bath. If you think the water is too hot, ask the parents to lower the water temperature in the home. Recommended temperatures are between 120°F to 125°F, which is 49°C to 52°C.
- Do not leave the bathroom unattended for any reason after you have started filling the tub. A child could easily get scalded or drown in a matter of minutes.
- Do get a thermometer to check the temperature of the water, rather than testing it with your finger or hand. Carry it in your babysitting backpack.
The next section addresses putting kids of different ages to bed. Let's begin with the babies:
- Establish a routine for bedtime. The parents may have already established one for you, so talk to them before inventing your own. Generally the routine could be food, bath and bed. It may also include reading a book, brushing their teeth, etc.
- Watch babies and you will know it is close to bedtime when they begin to rub their eyes, get cranky, or look for their favorite toy or blanket. Every child may be different so look out for different signals until you get to know the baby well.
- Prepare for bedtime by gathering up the things you will need to put the baby to bed: cuddly toy, favorite book, or blanket.
- Take the baby to its room, or a quite place, away from distractions. This will help put the baby to sleep faster. Turn on the night light.
- Talk to the baby in a soothing voice; your voice will comfort the baby and help it feel secure.
- Sing the baby a lullaby, read a story, or play some soft music.
- Try picking the baby up and walking around. The motion of being carried around helps calm babies and puts them to sleep faster.
- Gently pat or stroke the baby's back to help the baby fall asleep.
- You should always check on a sleeping baby. However, make sure you do not wake up the baby.
- Again check with the parents to see if the child has an established routine, and follow it. If not, establish one of your own.
- Establish a routine by telling a child he/she will be going to bed in about 15 minutes. This gives children time to finish whatever activities they were involved in. For example: They may want to finish the game they were playing with you, or the book they were reading.
- Have children take a bath before they go to bed. This will help them relax.
- A glass of warm milk may also help them relax and get prepared for bed.
- Reading to older children is a good way to get them to go to bed; or, the children may want to read their favorite book themselves.
- Once you have established and completed the routine, you can leave the children. Switch off the light, and switch on a night light if they need it.
Again, make sure you check on a sleeping child from time to time.
- Do not give children hot chocolate, soda pop, or anything with a high sugar content that could make them overactive.
- Do not read scary stories, or watch TV programs before bedtime.
- Do not argue with children about going to bed; be kind and sensitive to their needs. Explain to them that everyone, and everything in the world, has to rest at some time, so they can be ready for the next day.
- Do not get mad with children who refuse to go to bed, or get out of bed. Be firm, and take them back to bed. Tell them you are sorry, but there is a time for everything, and it is now time for them to go to bed.
- If children are afraid of going to sleep, talk to them about their fears. Once you know what they are afraid of, it is easier to handle.
- If it is the dark they fear, then have a night light in their room, or leave the room door slightly ajar, so the room is not totally dark.
- If they fear monsters, tell them there is no such thing. It is a better way to deal with this fear than to pretend to check under the bed, or in the closet. Checking for monsters makes the child believe monsters exist.
- Check the room to see if there are any shadows that could scare a child once the lights are off.
- Don't make fun of what a child fears in front of other children, or adults.
This section gave you a very good idea about handling bath and bedtime for babies, toddlers, and older children. Think about everything you have learned here, and come up with creative ways to set up bath and bedtime routines for the kids you babysit. Also talk to other babysitters and your parents for more ideas.
Minor cuts, scrapes, stings, insect bites, and fever are a few of the things you may have to take care of. The most important thing, is to stay calm as you administer first aid. Here is how you handle these things:
Cuts and Scrapes If the wound is bleeding, stop the bleeding first, using a clean, wet towel. Soak the towel in warm water, and press it gently against the wound until the bleeding stops. After the bleeding stops, wash the cut or scrape gently with soap and warm water. Cover the wound with a bandage.
Important: If the wound is bleeding heavily, and you cannot stop the bleeding, call 911 immediately. Continue the pressure on the wound until emergency personnel arrive.
Stings The first thing to do is remove the stinger by scraping it off with the back of your pen-knife or a flat edge, like a credit card, rather than trying to put it out. Clean the sting with soap and water. Put an ice cube on the sting to reduce swelling. If the child is allergic to bee stings, call 911 immediately. Do not wait.
Nose Bleeds Have the child sit or stand with the head tilted slightly forward. Use your fingers, and pinch the soft part of the nose to stop the bleeding. Put some ice in a towel or wash cloth, and gently apply to the nose. Do not move the head back. If the bleeding continues, call the parents, or the child's doctor.
Fever If a child is unusually cranky, and feels hot to the touch, the child could be developing a fever. Give the child plenty of liquids to drink, and put him/her in bed. Do not give the child any medication. Call the parents immediately. Watch the child carefully, and if the child should throw up or have diarrhea, you may want to call the parents, or the child's doctor for advice.
Burns Take care of minor (first degree) burns; hold the burn under cold running water for at least five minutes. If the burn is larger than a small blister, then use water to keep the area cool and call 911 and the parents immediately.
Poisons In the case of accidental poisoning, call the Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222), or 911 immediately.
This is probably the scariest moment for a babysitter. The symptoms of choking are that the child cannot breathe, cough, or cry.
If a child or infant in your care is choking, and you do not know what to do, call for help immediately.
- Lay the baby face down on your thigh or forearm. Lower the head, but support it with one hand.
- Use the heel of your other hand (the area between your palm and wrist), and give the baby five firm blows between the shoulder blades.
- Check to see if the object was removed after each blow.
- If you cannot remove the object, then turn the baby over, and lay it on your forearm. Tilt the head back but support it at all times. Using three fingers, thrust down on the child's breastbone, just below the nipple one to four times.
- Check if the object was removed after each thrust.
If a child is choking, this is what you have to do:
- Stand behind the choking child.
- Bend the child well forward, then place your arms around the waist.
- Make your hand into a fist, and place it right above child's belly button.
- Place your other hand on top of the fist, and then thrust both hands upwards into the belly.
- Repeat the action until whatever is in the throat comes out.
After performing CPR, make sure the child is breathing normally. If you feel the child still has something stuck in the throat, and is coughing, then you should call 911.
It is recommended that you do not attempt what is described above, unless you have taken a course in CPR offered by the Red Cross, and have had some practice.
In a choking situation, always call the parents after you have called 911.
Always stay calm when you call 911. The operator will want to know what the emergency is, and your location. Listen carefully to the operator's instructions, and provide all the information required. Do not hang up, unless the operator asks you to.
If you are paid daily, and a parent forgets to pay you, gently remind him/her about payment by saying something like, "I'll be back on Tuesday; do you want to pay me then?"
If you are supposed to be paid weekly, you can either leave a note on the refrigerator with the amount they owe you, or you can make a little bill and hand it to them as a reminder.
If you are not getting paid, and you are getting many delays and excuses, get your parents to call. This may rarely happen, but if it does, it is better for you to look for work somewhere else.
If you find the parents of the children you are babysitting are too demanding, being rude, or abusive to you, tell your parents immediately and find another family to babysit for.
Looking to the Future
Although this course talks a lot about babysitting, the first part of the course should help you in finding other jobs similar to babysitting. For example, if you find that you are great at entertaining kids, you may want to become a party planner. If you love pets, you could become a pet sitter. Gain more knowledge about an area that you would like, to expand your business. Then, use the tips on planning, advertising, interviewing, and getting the job, to be a successful entrepreneur.