University of Illinois Extension
a guide to the business of babysitting
 

Safety First

Good babysitters are safety-conscious and take extra precautions to make sure the children are safe from accidents. If you need to talk on the phone, make sure you always know where the children are. Make calls short and always be attentive to the children.

Household Safety

  • Keep windows and outside doors locked and do not open them to see who is there.
  • Be careful not to offer information over the phone. Do not tell anyone that you are alone.
  • Keep the radio or TV turned low so that you can hear a cry or call from the child when he/she is sleeping.
  • Put things away and out of reach of children when preparing food.
  • Always know where the emergency exits are located.
  • Look for potential hazards in the home such as open stairways, uncovered electrical outlets or sharp objects that are within reach.
  • Keep gates across stairways to prevent falls from occurring.
  • Keep children from playing near glass doors and windows.
  • Put up medicine, cleaning products, pesticides, paint, and plants so that they are out of reach of young children. Many of these items can be quite dangerous for young children. If there is an emergency, call 911.

What Would You Do?Child Safety

  • Never leave a young child alone while he/she is awake. Check on the child occasionally while they are sleeping.
  • Never leave a baby unattended on a changing table, in a high chair, bath or walker. Use safety straps whenever they are available.
  • Stay awake so you'll hear the children if they need you.
  • Children will likely try you out to see how far you will let them go. Be firm in insisting that they play where they will be safe.
  • Closets, medicine chests, drawers, and storage locations are not proper places for children to play. Also keep them away from stairways, hot objects (such as an iron or curling iron), stoves, microwaves and electrical outlets.
  • Keep scissors or knives out of sight.
  • Keep buttons, pins, cigarette stubs, money, small toy pieces, matches, and any other small particles off the floor and out of sight.
  • If playing outdoors, know where their parents permit them to play. Watch for traffic and fire hazards, garden sprays, tools and unfriendly animals.
  • Don't bathe the children unless specifically asked to do so. If you do bathe the children, do it very carefully and never leave the child unattended. The water in the bathtub should be comfortable to touch, not too hot!
  • Cut food into bite size pieces for toddlers and preschoolers.
  • Make sure that children remain seated while eating.
  • Try to avoid foods that are likely to cause a young child to choke such as popcorn, hot dogs, hard candy, and grapes.
  • Make sure that doors to rooms such as the bathroom, basement and garage are closed.
  • Remove plastic bags, beanbags or pillows that could cover a child's face and cut off breathing.
  • Remove any strings or straps that might pose a strangulation hazard to a young child.

Personal Safety

  • Don't let haste or carelessness cause you to have an accident.
  • Carry the baby or any package so that you can see where you are stepping.
  • If you should suffer a cut or burn put the baby in his crib and take other children with you while you apply first aid.
  • If you are annoyed, bothered or in doubt about any unusual people or situations, call one of the people you are to contact in emergencies, or your own parents.
  • If you get sick while babysitting, call your parents or another qualified babysitter to take over for you. Then contact the parents to let them know of the change in plans for their final approval.

Toy Safety

  • Put up toys with objects small enough to swallow when watching a child under age four.
  • Check stuffed animals to make sure that button eyes are not loose enough to come off and be swallowed.
  • Put up toys with sharp edges and sharp points as well as toys that shoot objects.
  • Look for toys with long strings and cords that may strangle an infant or young child. Put these toys in a place were young children cannot reach them.
  • Put up electronic toys that might burn or shock young children.
  • Make sure that the toys the children are playing with are appropriate for their ages. Toys that are safe for older children can be quite dangerous when played with by younger children.

Outdoor Safety

  • Children are usually unaware of the risks that are present in playing outdoors. You can teach them to play safe when they are playing outside.
  • Keep children from walking in front or back of a moving swing or glider.
  • Place young children in the center of a swing. Make sure that they are capable of hanging onto the swing or place them in a swing designed for infants and toddlers.
  • Be cautious of hanging rings. Some young children are able to place their entire head through the ring creating the potential for being hung.
  • Explain your list of outdoor rules to children. Your list might include: no pushing other children off a swing or piece of playground equipment, no swinging empty swings or gliders, no climbing up the front of the slide, no walking in front or back of a moving swing, no twisting swing chains, no rough playing on the equipment, and only one person can be on a piece of equipment at one time if it is designed for use by one person.
  • Be extremely cautious of swimming pools, wading pools, spas, and hot tubs even when a pool has a cover and is fenced in. Keep your eyes on the children at all times. If a child is missing, immediately check the pool to make sure the child has not fallen in it.
  • Make sure that gates are locked, and ladders are up in pool areas.
  • Learn CPR and first aid practices in case you might need it when watching children. Learn the phone number for emergency medical service in your location.