4 Things Your First-Time Babysitter Should Know

First time leaving baby with a sitter

Little L is five months now, and I haven't really left her with anyone other than my husband and my mother. However, a week ago I found myself needing a last minute sitter when no one else could, and I panicked! My husband and my mother both have experience with babies, and I know they would both know what to do in an emergency situation and how to read Little L's signs - when she's hungry, tired, needs to be changed, or just wants to be held. But someone new?

Granted, it was a friend of my mother's who runs a daycare from her home and has experience with babies - but still, it is always a bit unnerving. The night before I was supposed to take her to the sitter, I was "planicking"…planning and panicking at the same time. Okay, so it wasn't so much panicking as much as it was nerves. Even so, I grabbed a pad of paper and started writing, describing Little L's habits, what she liked, what she didn't like, etc. I ended up writing on four sheets of paper, and even so, I still felt I had left things out.

The next day, I handed the notes to the sitter. She looked at me, smiled and said, "It will be okay. I will call you if I have any doubts - and call to check in at any time."

And I sure did!

Here are a few things you should always tell your sitter or a family member who is watching after your baby:

1. When in doubt, call.
Emphasize they won't be "bothering" you while you're out. You want to know our children are okay.

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2. Read the instructions carefully.
I wrote four pages, but they each had details about my baby which are important to know so that all goes smoothly.

3. Check the designated places for additional clothing, diapers and food.
Sounds basic, but I remember babysitting when I was younger and being left to scour the home for diapers and wipes once when they were all out. It was not fun, and baby was in a poopy diaper for a long time until I did find them.

4. Go to the neighbors for help if necessary.
If they are babysitting in your home, make sure your more trusted neighbors know you are out.

Finally, as always, trust your instincts. If something isn't right, then don't fight it. Once, M wasn't feeling good and I was supposed to leave him with a sitter. I opted to cancel my meeting and stay with him. I just didn't feel right leaving him in someone else's care. As it turned out, he had hand, foot and mouth disease, and we ended up in the emergency room!

- By Maria José Ovalle

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