This is a guest post from Prevent Needless Deaths
While it can be nerve-wracking to find just the right babysitter, the search is worth it when you find the person who provides you peace of mind when you know your little ones are in good hands.
Even if your caregiver has the very best qualifications and background, it’s important to understand how they handle certain situations, such as their dedication to safe sleeping environments, attentiveness to prevent drowning, and ability to handle stressful situations.
Share these tips with your babysitter to help them be prepared to take the best care of your child:
Create a safe sleeping environment for the baby
Unsafe sleep practices, including co-sleeping, continue to be the leading cause of preventable infant deaths. Help your babysitter take these important steps to decrease the likelihood of infant suffocation from an unsafe sleep environment:
- Follow the ABCs of safe infant sleep. The safest way for infants to sleep is Alone on their Backs in a Crib. Stuffed animals, toys, pillows and blankets should remain outside of the crib as they increase the risk for suffocation.
- Never let anyone co-sleep or bed-share with an infant. More infants die in adult beds than anywhere else. In fact, infants are 40 times more likely to die in an adult bed than in a crib. This is because infants can get stuck in blankets or pillows, which increases the risk of suffocation due to their lack of control of their neck muscles.
- Prepare for when a child will not be sleeping at home. Make sure the caregiver has the proper sleeping arrangements by using a crib or pack ‘n play with a fitted sheet for your child to sleep safely. Infants should never be placed on a blow-up mattress, recliner or couch, even if it is temporary.
Practice safe stress relief to prevent abusive head trauma
Head trauma, also known as shaken baby syndrome, most often occurs in children under five years old. In most cases, the individual does not mean to harm the child but lacks the knowledge or skills to cope with a stressful situation.
Make sure your babysitter understands that shaking a baby even once can be fatal. Provide them with tips on how to handle the stressful situation of a crying baby:
- Understand that crying is normal. Crying is how babies communicate. Babies may cry because they are hungry, need a diaper change, are teething, are too hot or too cold, or are simply over-tired. Share your child’s habits with your babysitter to help them understand what to expect.
- Share steps to soothe the child. As you know, a baby may continue to cry even after he or she has been fed, is wearing a clean diaper or recently woke up. If the first steps to calm the child don’t seem to work, a soothing action such as swaddling in a blanket, slowly rocking in a chair, humming, or going for a walk might be needed.
- Know it’s okay to take a time out. If a situation becomes frustrating, know it’s okay to leave the child safely on their back in the crib – even if they are still crying – and step out of the room to regroup. Stepping away from the situation reduces the chance of stress leading to a dangerous situation. If a break is necessary, check on the child frequently to ensure the child is still safe.
Be water safe in all areas to prevent drowning
Drowning can happen to any child, anywhere, at any time. It’s not limited to pools and beaches – there are potential hazards in and around the home that can put children at risk.
Share these drowning prevention tips with your child’s babysitter:
- Always have a “water watcher.” Lack of adult supervision in and around the water is the main reason children die from drowning. An adult should always keep their eyes on the child at all times when they are in or near water, and avoid distractions such as texting.
- Never rely on floatation devices. Flotation devices, such as water wings, inner tubes or even life vests should be used only in conjunction with close adult supervision. Infants and toddlers should always be accompanied in the water and they should stay within arm’s reach of the child, even if the child is using a flotation device.
- Be aware of hidden hazards. A child can drown in as little as 1 inch of water. Everything from a bucket to a pet’s water bowl can pose a drowning risk. Always empty bathtubs when they are no longer in use and keep bathroom doors closed.
These are important life-saving tips that all caregivers and babysitters should know. For more information on these tips, visit and share www.preventneedlessdeaths.com.