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Get the Best from Your Babysitter — A Dad’s Advice

By: Grant Hansen,
Red Cross Director, Digital Product Management &
Proud Dad of Olivia

Photo - Grant and Olivia

I’ve been a dad now for two years. Over the course of these past two years I’ve found myself go from laid-back risk taker to a high-strung safety admiral. So, as you can imagine, the first time I left my daughter Olivia with a sitter for a date night with my wife, I was kind of terrified. It’s always scary leaving your child with someone the first time – or any time – but it’s easier when you know your child is in safe, capable hands.

But what makes a good sitter?

Working for the American Red Cross on child care programs has taught me this – parents need to see more from babysitters than just a fun personality and the ability to order a pizza for dinner.

It’s important to know if a potential babysitter is up to the job. Here are some good questions to ask before you hire a sitter, based on what I know from being a dad, and from the scenarios I’ve helped design for Red Cross child care and babysitting training programs.

A Dad’s Top Four Questions for Potential Babysitters

1. Do you have any first aid training? (The answer should be yes. The answer is best if they’re certified in Pediatric First Aid/CPR/AED.)
2. Do you know how to properly hold an infant and change a diaper?
3. You’ll be taking the kids outside and sometimes to the pool. What do you know about kids and water safety? Being outside in the sun? What would you do if there’s a thunderstorm?
4. Some younger kids have tantrums and can seem out of control. If you got in that type of situation, what would you do to handle it?

If your potential sitters don’t answer these questions to your satisfaction, it’s probably a good idea to point them toward the new Red Cross Advanced Child Care Training course.

Designed for people 16 years and older, this new class covers the most common child care routines and behavior along with safety inside and outside the house. Using the latest in smart-teaching technology (something called advanced simulation learning), the course combines two hours of self-paced online learning and six and a half hours of in-person training and skills assessment.

When sitters complete the course (well worth it for $129), they will receive a two-year certification in both Advanced Child Care Training and Pediatric First Aid/CPR/AED. That’s in addition to lots of helpful resources such as activity ideas for various ages, downloadable sheets on topics like spoon-feeding infants, lesson summaries and templates for résumés and business cards.

A parent couldn’t ask for more. (Well, I’d also love not feeling that twinge of guilt when Olivia stares at me with her big brown eyes as I leave the house.)

So encourage your favorite babysitter to register today – or invest in the course for them yourself. Also, let us know your favorite babysitter interview questions in the comments section below, and we’ll share them with other parents in future blog posts.

2 Responses to “Get the Best from Your Babysitter — A Dad’s Advice”

  1. This is an excellent article on how to hire a sitter for your kids. I fully endorse all of the prerequisites that the Red Cross teaches for baby sitters.

  2. The best babysitter is the parent. Believe me there will be plenty of time for date night later when she/he is older.

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