When you hire a new babysitter, you'll want to make sure you give them all the information they need to care for your children. The more prepared you are, the more comfortable your children will be, and the more at ease you'll feel about going out.
You and the babysitter might feel more comfortable and confident if they arrive 30 mins or even an hour before you leave so they can settle in. This will give you some time to get ready and feel less stressed about your night (or day) out. You might want to consider hiring the babysitter for an hour or two one day while you are home to get familiar with your child and house (and give you a chance to get some chores done or indulge in some me' time!)
There is a comprehensive checklist below. Go over other relevant information with the sitter, answering any questions that might arise. Most of the information a babysitter will need is likely to be the same each time you go out, so it's a good idea to have a "permanent" checklist or information sheet that you keep in a safe place or post in an accessible spot. Don't forget to change the info each time to provide details on where you are, and updated contact info!
Tell your babysitter what time you expect to be home and call or text if you are running late.
- When your babysitter arrives give them a full tour of the house. Make sure they have all the keys they need, and ensure they know how to operate the air-conditioning/heaters, alarms, TV/DVD and phones.
- Show your babysitter your children's rooms and point out any books or toys your child especially likes. Make sure there are pyjamas/clothes for bath-time and the nappy change table is well stocked (if required).
- Show your babysitter the kitchen and let them know if they are welcome to help themselves to your fridge and pantry. It is best to set aside food specifically for the babysitter so they can focus on your children and not worry about preparing their own food.
- Keep a First Aid kit in an easily accessible position and make sure the babysitter knows where it is.
The following is information you should give to your babysitter:
- Family name
- Children's names and ages
- Home address and phone number
- Nearest cross street (for use in getting emergency assistance)
- Location and phone number where you can be reached
- What time you will be home
Important names and numbers
- Your cell phone/pager numbers, if applicable
- A nearby friend, relative, or neighbour that could be contacted in case of emergency
- Emergency numbers (000 and Poison control centre)
- Hospital or urgent care phone number
- Paediatrician's name and phone number
Household rules and routines
- What and where your children are allowed to eat and drink, including any foods that are off-limits
- How to use any baby equipment, if applicable (e.g. high chair, crib, baby monitor, etc.)
- Play activities your child enjoys
- Areas of the house or specific activities not permitted while you are out
- Rules for playing outdoors
- Guidelines for TV viewing-how much and what programs your children can watch
- Rules for use of the computer, phone, video games, etc.
- Guidelines regarding the children visiting friends or having them over
- Explain the steps of bedtime routine, or hours or naptime, and any tips you may have for settling your children if they wake while you are out
- How discipline issues should be handled
- Instructions for answering the phone
- Information about any pets and their care (if applicable)
General safety guidelines
- How to use the home alarm system, if any, and where it is located
- Locations of all exits, fire extinguishers, first aid supplies, flashlights/candles in case of a blackout and the circuit breaker panel
- How to operate window and door locks
- Warning not to give information about your absence over the phone; if answering the telephone, the sitter should tell callers that you're not available and take a message
- What to do in case of an emergency
- Types of less urgent situations that would warrant phoning you
- Date of birth, height, and weight of each child
- Any food allergies or other medical conditions
- Information about any medications
- Health insurance carrier and policy number
- Any rules for the babysitter regarding use of the telephone, computer, or TV, having friends over, etc.
Once you get home from a hopefully great night or day out, make sure to talk with the babysitter about how things went. Answer any questions or discuss any problems or behaviour that may have arisen. The feedback will help you be more prepared for future babysitting.
Make sure you babysitter has a safe way of getting home.
You can also find a basic printable checklist here.
Discuss this topic in the Daycare and Nannies forum.