Questions Every Good Babysitter Should Ask: Is My Child Ready to Babysit?

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How old should my child be to babysit for pay, what questions should every babysitter ask and what are some helpful babysitting dos and don'ts to make her a success.

You've watched your little girl play with dolls most of her childhood.  She loves to be around babies and toddlers.  But, when do you know she is ready to babysit for pay?  And; when the time comes for her to pursue that babysitting endeavor, what are some helpful tips to make her successful in caring for other people's children?

Most girls begin babysitting for pay around age 13; though some start as early as age 11 while others not till they are 14 or 15.  Some indicators that your daughter is ready to care for someone else's child for pay are if she is generally responsible; does she handle unexpected situations with ease; does she enjoy babies, toddlers or preschool age children; and, has she taken a Red Cross babysitting course?

If the answer to any of those questions are no or maybe, perhaps she could start by offering to be a mother's helper until she is confident and responsible enough to babysit alone.  A mother's helper is entertaining and caring for someone's child while the mother is within range.  Perhaps, she has a newborn to tend to and needs help entertaining a toddler - but, the mother is still in the house.  Or, maybe she has some gardening to do in the yard and wants her children looked after.  But, she is within range in case of an emergency.  Some girls are capable of being a mother's helper as young as 8 years of age.

If the answers to the questions are all a resounding yes, then it's time to talk directly to your little entrepreneur:

If you have the desire to babysit, have taken a Red Cross course and show signs of being responsible; the question of when you are ready to babysit alone for pay is that of the choice of individual parents.  Do they trust you?  If so, how much do you charge and how do you get the business?

Many girls charge between $4.00-$8.00 an hour which is dependant upon your location, how many children you are babysitting, and whether they are infants or preschoolers, etc.  Find out the going rate in your area by asking around.  Then, go to work printing up brochures or business cards that your parents can help you give out starting with friends and family members who already know they can trust you with their children.  It is very helpful to include a copy or reference to the fact that you have a Red Cross certification card.  This puts a parent's mind at ease.

Once you get a job and decide on a price, make sure there are prior arrangements made as to how you will get there and return home safely.  Do not walk alone, especially not after dark.  Make a list of questions to ask parents before they leave such as:

  • Phone or cell phone # where parents can be reached.
  • Poison control number.
  • In case of an emergency, and you need to call 911, you'll need to know the address and phone number of the house you are babysitting in along with name of streets of the closest intersection.
  • Name, address and phone number of a nearby neighbor.
  • Name and phone number of children's doctor and hospital.
  • What are household rules for situations you may not be accustomed to:  For instance, do they have a swimming pool - Am I allowed to swim with child and what are safety rules.  Or, how to handle a family pet; or, am I allowed to walk with children to nearby park or leave he house for any reason with children, etc.
  • What time parents are expected to return?
  • Children's food or medicine allergies, if they have any and what to do if they come into contact with something they are allergic to (for instance, some children have a severe peanut allergy and need to be given an Epipen immediately if they even breathe air around peanuts - Ask about these type of things).
  • What and when to feed the children?
  • What foods are the children not allowed to have?
  • What snacks are you allowed or not allowed to eat?
  • What to do with dirty diapers or soiled clothing?
  • What is the child's bedtime?
  • What are the child's bedtime rituals?
  • What type of discipline actions are preferred (do the parents use time outs or naughty stools or do they withhold privileges, etc.?)

Some things to never do are to never invite friends over unless parents have previously approved; never snoop around the house; never tie up the phone lines talking with friends or ignore children while online or playing your own video games.  If parents have approved that you may have a snack, feel free to do so just never leave a mess.

In the end, any successful business endeavor takes time and experience to build and perfect.  Be patient, and take the time to get really excellent at how you do your job.

1 comment

Alma Galvez
Posted on Feb 7, 2010