Babysitters can range in age, tending to be in their pre-teens/teens, ages 11-19, yet it is not uncommon for students in their 20s to take on babysitting as a part-time job. The type of work for babysitters also varies, from watching a sleeping child, to playing games, preparing meals, teaching the child to read, or even driving (if the age is right), depending on the agreed upon terms and determined by parental permission.
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In some countries various organizations produce courses for babysitters, mainly focusing on child safety and first aid appropriate for infants and children. These classes or courses can be provided at local hospitals and sometimes even schools. These classes can equip the babysitter with information to keep both the child, or children, and sitter safe in various health and weather scenarios.
In the United States, the circumstances that babysitters face can change quickly. The American Red Cross is currently the most popular form of certification; its curriculum ranges from sleeping to emergencies to encouraging young entrepreneurship. It has been statistically shown that parents are more relaxed with a certified babysitter. 
 Word History
The term “baby sitter” first appeared in 1937; the verb form “baby-sit” is first recorded in 1947. The American Heritage College Dictionary notes “One normally would expect the agent noun babysitter with its -er suffix to come from the verb baby-sit, as diver comes from dive, but in fact babysitter is first recorded in 1937, ten years earlier than the first appearance of baby-sit. Thus the verb was derived from the agent noun rather than the other way around, and represents a good example of back-formation.” The use of the word “sit” to abbreviate to refer to a baby-sitter is recorded from 1800. The term may have originated from the action of the caretaker “sitting on” the baby in one room, while the parents were entertaining or busy in another.
 International variations in definition
In British English the term refers only to caring for a child for a few hours, on an informal basis and usually in the evening when the child is asleep for most of the time. In American English the term can include caring for a child for the whole or most of the day, and on a regular or more formal basis, which would be described as childminding in British English.
In the United States, the term is sometimes used when one parent is at home and the other, who would normally be present, is not.
In India a babysitter or nanny is known as an ayah or aya, a person hired on a longer term contract basis to look after a child regardless of the presence of the parents.
The Disadvantages of Baby-Sitting
Baby-sitting is a way to get some extra money in a short time period, but disadvantages are present, such as hours, behavior of children and irregular schedule. This is not a dependable way to earn income because you are at the mercy of families needing a baby-sitter.
Baby-sitters are needed sporadically. There is no regular schedule and are often called upon last minute. The jobs can occur once and then never again. It all depends on whether the employer ever needs a baby-sitter again and if he was happy with your work with his children.
Uneducated in Child Care
A person who is in need of a baby-sitter may require the sitter to have certain type of experience and certifications, such as CPR, before hiring a baby-sitter. However, typically, baby-sitters do not have an education in child care or several years of experience. This type of person is usually doing it to make a few extra dollars.
The hours of a baby-sitting job could be at any time during the day. If a baby-sitter limits the hours of her availability, the amount of work is decreased. Also, a baby-sitter needs to be ready for long night hours. Most baby-sitters are needed to watch children at night while the parents take in a movie, dinner or attend a work event.
Behavior of Children
The children that a baby-sitter tends to may appear have angel-like characteristics in front of his parents, but things may change when a sitter is alone with the child. The children may have foul language, tantrums if they don’t get what they want or display meanness because the parents left them with a sitter.
What are the advantages of babysitters?
One of the advantages of using a babysitter is that your baby or child will be one of a small group, and the babysitter can therefore offer plenty of individual attention.
Some babysitters take care of children from several families, and usually have mixed age groups, which closely mirrors family life. This may help your child learn to feel comfortable around older and younger children. It also makes it easier to care for all the children in a family, from babies to school age children. Often, babysitters look after children from babyhood through to secondary school, giving them a great sense of security and continuity.
Many parents like this family-friendly interaction, and sometimes what starts out as a babysitting arrangement becomes a strong friendship that lasts for years.
Taking your child to a babysitter can be the next best thing to your own home. If you’re lucky enough to find a good babysitter close by, so much the better; your child will feel even more at home.
From a practical viewpoint, babysitters can often be more flexible about pick-up and drop-off times. This extra flexibility may mean that you don’t have to organise back-up care as often and is particularly useful if you work shifts. However, like all childcare arrangements, it is important not to take advantage, otherwise you may find that you have to start your childcare search all over again.
What are the disadvantages?
If your babysitter becomes ill or takes a holiday, you may be stumped for back-up childcare. Make sure you ask your babysitter how she deals with situations like this.
Some parents worry that the babysitter’s children will get more attention than their own, which puts them off the arrangement. Even the best babysitters still have to meet the needs of their own families and the other children that they are caring for. However, all aspects of day-to-day life can offer learning opportunities, and good babysitters will ensure that the children in their care are regularly engaged in new activities and experiences.
Making a decision
In common with most childcare choices, there are pros and cons for you to weigh up. But depending on your own perspective, what one person might see as a disadvantage (such as fitting into the babysitter’s daily routine), might be viewed as an advantage by another (lots of learning opportunities in a family environment). The best decision for you will be based on what feels right in your individual circumstances.
Baby-Sitting Duties & Salary
For a great many people, baby-sitting is the first hired work experience in life. Non-professional baby sitters usually range between the ages of 15 and 22. For young people, baby-sitting is usually great non-family related flexible employment that can continue all the way through college. Baby sitters have two duties: to keep the children safe and to provide them with comfort. The rates, however, vary by location and circumstance.
The No. 1 and most basic of baby-sitter duties is to make sure that the kids are safe; that no physical harm has occurred to them on your watch. Accidents can happen, but it is the sitter’s responsibility to know where the child is at all times. If there are multiple children, it is also the sitter’s duty to make sure that they do not harm each other. Knowing the dangers in a house, especially for the first time can be difficult. It is important to go over all the safety details with the parents before they leave you. Where are all the doors? Are they locked? Do the drawers and kitchen cabinets lock? Are the electrical outlets properly covered? and so on. The best way to keep a child safe is to keep them in your attention at all times. Young children should be followed and monitored closely, older children can have a little more privacy if they desire. If you must drive make sure you have proper car seats. You must also need to know what to do in the case of emergency; where the first aid is, how to do CPR and where to call for help.
Along with safety, a baby sitter’s duty is to provide the children with their basic needs. Usually you will have to feed them, bath them, change diapers or help them with the toilet. The basic needs of children depend on their age; an infant will require full attention at all times even when sleeping.
Entertainment and Comfort
Aside from what a baby sitter has a to do, there are things a babysitter should do. Many children are uneasy about seeing their parents leave, as such a baby sitter needs to comfort them by reassuring the child that their parents will return soon and in the meantime you are going to have a lot of fun together. Children love it when adults play with them; ask to see their favorite toy, or watch their favorite movie, read them a book, play outside if there is a yard, or if the parents permit it, drive to a park or bakery for the afternoon. Baby sitting is made all the more easy when the children like and enjoy the company of their baby sitter. Really good baby sitters can become almost part of the family in some cases.
The wages for a baby sitter vary drastically depending on the circumstances. The average baby-sitting rate in the United States is between $8 and $10 per hour. Though the average seems low, it is higher than the minimum wage in many states. There are, however, variables. Some inexperienced sitters may earn as low as $5 per hour, or on the extreme opposite experienced sitters in wealthy neighborhoods can earn between $15 and $18 per hour. Usually babysitters can set their own rate depending on the situation; infants should generally add $1 to $2 more to your standard rate, and each additional child added should add $1 as well. If you provide yourself with your own transportation then consider adding between 50 cents and $1 to your salary.
Babysitting Older Children
Babysitting older children generally takes less work than taking care of toddlers or infants. Whereas babies need constant nurture and attention, older children can tend for themselves in a lot of areas. However, there still remains a fair share of work to be done when babysitting older children. Depending on the circumstance, you may be responsible for tasks like driving them to sports practices, helping them with homework, cooking them meals, and making sure their lights are out at bedtime.
Often your babysitting responsibilities will be based on everything from your age to the specific needs of the children. Before beginning to babysit for older children, be sure to inquire as to exactly what the parents expect your responsibilities to be. It can also be helpful to obtain a babysitting checklist from the parents that will guide you with helpful instructions and reminders.
Balancing Babysitter Responsibilities
Taking care of children is rarely an easy task, and handling your responsibilities as a babysitter can sometimes be difficult. For example, if you are babysitting three or more children, or if one or more has special needs, the job can seem overwhelming. That is why it is important to properly balance your babysitting responsibilities so you do not exhaust yourself completely by the end of the evening. Babysitting is work, but it should also be enjoyable. Here’s what you can do to keep your babysitter duties balanced:
Ask the parents to explain their expectations for your babysitting services and derive a clear picture of your specific responsibilities for each child.
Obtain a babysitting checklist from the parents, which will help you keep track of important information and requirements for each child.
If you feel like too much responsibility is being put on you, speak up and tell the parents in a polite manner. Some parents do not realize what a handful their children can be, let alone all the tasks they want you to perform for them or around the house. Letting them know that you are being overwhelmed will cause them to realize they need to give their children more responsibilities of their own or, in some cases, to hire an additional babysitter to help you out.
How to Use a Babysitting Checklist
Babysitting checklists are given to child care providers by parents to give specific instructions, and contact information in case of emergencies.These checklists are important to obtain and utilize as a babysitter because they will detail how your responsibilities should be carried out.
That way, if an issue arises, you will have the information that you need to deal with it. Some items that should be included include where the parents can be reached, the number of someone to call if you cannot get in contact with the parents, the child’s doctor and insurance information, and a signed emergency treatment release for the child.
With this information, you will be prepared for anything that might happen while you are babysitting. Once you are given a babysitting checklist, be sure to keep it with you in a pocket or purse at all times. Read its contents thoroughly before the parents leave, and scan through it several times during the day or evening so that you ensure all of your responsibilities are done properly.
Managing Babysitter Responsibilities
Managing babysitter responsibilities is one of the most important tasks involved in child care. When you agree to provide babysitting for someone’s children, it is imperative that you understand what your responsibilities are and how you should carry them out. Babysitter responsibilities can vary from job to job. Just as children differ, so will the ways in which they need to be taken care of.
In order to have a solid understanding of the responsibilities a parent will want you to uphold, you should first discuss exactly what will be involved in babysitting for them. If they are not upfront with explaining the specific responsibilities for the job, be sure to inquire about them. Some babysitting jobs will simply necessitate watching and playing with the children. Others will include more extensive responsibilities like driving, cooking, changing diapers, cleaning and doing light housework.
It is also helpful to obtain a babysitter checklist from the parents. This checklist will contain, among other things, information that will direct your specific responsibilities, such as how much TV the children are allowed to watch, how to discipline them, and what they can or cannot eat. These instructions will help you understand how to carry out each of your responsibilities so you are not left guessing on your own. With clearly defined expectations and a babysitter checklist from the parents, you will be on your way to managing babysitter responsibilities like an expert.
Responsibilities for Babysitting Young Children
Babysitting young children brings its own set of unique responsibilities. While older children can tend for themselves in a lot of areas, infants and toddlers require constant nurture and attention. Babies must be fed often and, as a result, their diapers must be changed on a frequent basis.
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Infants tend to spit up and toddlers make messes wherever they go, so you can expect to spend a significant amount of time cleaning up after them. Infants will also need to be held and comforted often. Young children require naps at certain times, usually specified by the parents, and it is important to make sure they get the rest they need. Most young children cry a lot and it is important to know how to handle such situations when they arise. In order to be fully prepared for babysitting young children, take a class on the subject and speak with parents who have experience. Also, be sure to ask the parents of babies you are considering taking care of what responsibilities they would expect you to have.
Responsibilities of a Babysitter
Babysitter responsibilities vary widely from job to job depending on the age of the children, their specific needs and the particular requirements set by the parents. For younger children, responsibilities may include diaper changes, feeding, and holding; on the other hand, babysitting older children may involve driving them to soccer practice or helping them with their homework.
While some children are nearly self-sufficient, all will have certain needs. This could include anything from fixing them a snack to helping them with a physical disability. Circumstances that may surround the job, such as the parents going away on business or the children wanting to take a trip to the museum, may require you to take on heavier responsibilities such as staying overnight or driving.
Specific expectations of the parents will also determine what you will have to do as a babysitter. For example, some parents want their children in bed at a certain time. In this case, you need to make sure that they change into pajamas and brush their teeth before that time comes. The best way to determine the responsibilities you will have as a babysitter is ask parents directly.
Nanny Vs. Baby-sitting
In-home child care from a professional nanny or an individual doing simple baby-sitting duties offers a parent greater flexibility and control with schedules, compared with day care. Though it may be more costly than day care, a nanny or baby sitter may be the best way to care for children. Ages of the children, the hours needed for care and additional expectations determine if a parent needs just a baby-sitter or a professional nanny.
A baby sitter is usually called when the need arises, or she may have regularly scheduled hours to care for children. Typically, the job of a baby sitter is to ensure the safety and comfort of a child while the parents are away for a few hours. A nanny usually is more involved with children for a major part of the day on a regular basis. The Nanny Network website says the responsibility of a nanny is to “partner with the parents to help raise their charges to be responsible, competent young men and women.”
A baby sitter may be a responsible teen or a trusted adult living in the neighborhood. Teenagers and adults who are serious about working as baby sitters receive training and certification from the American Red Cross. Professional nannies have experience that’s backed up with written references, whether they’re working independently or for an agency.
Household duties are negotiated with either a baby sitter or nanny for additional pay. In either situation, care of the children is considered a priority over chores. Younger children require greater levels of care than school-age children, so expectations about extra duties like laundry and kitchen cleanup must be reasonable.
Both the baby sitter and the nanny can be expected to read and play with children or help school-age children with homework. A nanny will take a greater interest in teaching children and may serve as a tutor. Since the goal of the nanny is to raise children to become responsible adults, she will also educate children in manners, etiquette and how to care for themselves.
Merriam-Webster offers three definitions for discipline: instruction, self-control and punishment. A nanny is involved in all three areas of discipline for the training of children, which may include corporal punishment at the parent’s discretion. Typically, a baby sitter is less involved in the child’s life and merely informs the parents about the child’s behavior.
Rate of Pay
As of July 2010, the hourly rates for baby sitting average $8 to $12 an hour, but can be as little as $4 or more than $18 an hour, according to the Babysitting-Rates website. A number of factors affect the costs of hiring child care providers. Some of the variables are the number of children, the experience of the provider and expected household duties.
In the Los Angeles area, Mirta’s Domestic Agency reports salaries from $250 to $500 for a five-day week for live-in nannies working up to 60 hours, or live-out positions for up to 40 hours per week. “Nannies usually receive one-week paid vacation after a year, plus six paid holidays,” Mirta’s says.
How to Describe Baby-sitting Responsibilities
Although all baby sitters share basic responsibilities, such as caring for children, providing entertaining activities and attending to the needs of the children, different parents and families may have their own expectations of their baby sitters. Help your baby sitter understand what your expectations are and what her responsibilities will be when watching your children by clearly describing her duties. By clearly defining the baby sitter’s role for the person you hire, you will help both yourself, your children and your baby sitter have the best experience possible.
Schedule a meet and greet with your baby sitter before her first day caring for your children. After giving the baby sitter time to introduce herself to your children, communicate with her about her role as a baby sitter. Discuss simple things such as rate of pay, bedtime routines and television policies first.
Communicate with your baby sitter about tasks that you feel she should complete as a part of her job responsibilities. For example, some parents prefer the baby sitter to make lunches and dinners for the children, while other parents prepare meals before leaving. Let her know whether it’s OK to take your children for outings to the park, an ice cream shop or on bike rides.
Develop a baby-sitting checklist that your baby sitter can refer to when you are gone, especially if you have a lot of rules and responsibilities for her to abide by. Remember that getting used to another family’s routine may be overwhelming at first, so developing a checklist for your baby sitter of tasks to accomplish while you’re gone can be a huge help.
Remind your children about the rules of the house and ask them to remind your baby sitter if any of the rules are broken. For example, make sure that your children understand that they are not to watch television while the baby sitter is over if that is your rule. Ask them to remind her if she turns on the television out of habit.
How to Find a Babysitter Job
Babysitting is a great first job for teenagers. Babysitting is a flexible job that can fit around any schedule involving school work, extracurricular activities, and weekends. Through babysitting, you can learn patience, how to be a responsible role model, and how to handle money. To find a job, show parents of young children that you have the skills and commitment needed to babysit
Create a resume. Include any babysitting experience you have had as well as the hours you are available. Ask parents if you can use them as references, and ask them for letters of recommendation that indicate your strengths as a babysitter.
Ask for referrals. Call family and friends for referrals of parents who are in need of a babysitter, or use a local referral program. Many states have free babysitter referral programs that screen families and teens to find the best fit. Call your local chamber of commerce to find a referral program in your area.
Take a CPR course. The American Red Cross provides training classes for all ages. Ask adults in your class if they need a babysitter or if they have any referrals, and hand out your resume. Parents are more likely to hire you when they know you are certified in CPR.
Post fliers around your community in grocery stores, churches, businesses and day care centers. Cut seven to 10 strips on the bottom of your fliers that parents can easy tear off and take with them. On each strip write your name, telephone number, and that you’re a babysitter. Get the manager’s approval before hanging up any fliers in a business.
Use the Internet. Advertise your babysitting services on your blogs and community pages to tell your friends and their friends you are looking for a job.
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