Babysitting can be a great first job. But how do you get started?
How do you become a babysitter? Before you become a babysitter, first you need to decide if babysitting is really the right choice for you based on your interests and personal situation. If you want to babysit, you should start by taking a babysitting course and First Aid/CPR training. Then you'll be ready to find your first babysitting job!
In this article, you'll learn if babysitting is right for you, and how to become a babysitter.
1. Decide if Babysitting is Right for You
Parents will often suggest babysitting as a way for their children to get some work experience and earn a bit of extra money.
In your family, it might just be expected that you'll start to babysit once you're almost a teenager. But for some children, they start as young as eleven! See our article: How young can you start babysitting for more info.
So before you get started, ask yourself if babysitting is really something you want to do, or if someone is just suggesting it as an option for you. If you have no interest in babysitting, then it won't be an enjoyable experience and that can be obvious in the quality of your work.
For a list of questions to ask yourself, read our article is babysitting is right for you and then you should have a good idea.
It's okay if babysitting isn't for you. It's a huge responsibility. There are lots of other jobs you could consider instead like delivering newspapers, walking dogs, or cutting people's lawns. But many people LOVE babysitting, read our article: 11 reasons why babysitting is a fulfilling job to learn the many benefits this job can offer.
Do You Like Children?
Maybe babysitting seems like a good idea on the surface, but have you actually considered what it involves?
Young children and babies require lots of attention all the time. You'll need to watch them, feed them, interact and play with them, and answer tons of questions. If you're watching infants or toddlers, you'll have to change diapers as well.
If you enjoy spending time with younger children, then babysitting can be lots of fun. But if you don't enjoy the company of babies or toddlers, then babysitting might be a miserable experience both for you and the children you're watching!
See our list of qualities good babysitters often share.
Do You Have Time To Babysit?
Before you consider babysitting, you need to check your calendar first.
Is babysitting something that's realistic for you? If you are involved in lots of extracurricular activities at school and need hours each night for homework and studying, then maybe you don't have time to babysit right now.
Figure out if you have time to babysit, and when your schedule is open.
If you plan on starting to babysit, it's a good idea to try to keep Friday nights and your entire weekend clear. These are the times where babysitters are in the highest demand as parents have time off work and are looking to spend some child-free time together.
All good so far?
Let's get into the next steps.
2. Take A Babysitting Class
If you want to become a babysitter, then taking a babysitting class is a smart first step.
Check with your local Red Cross Office, hospital, YMCA, or school to find out when and where babysitting courses are offered.
You can also search online or ask your parents for tips if you can't find any available in your area. You could also ask an experienced babysitter, a childcare provider or an early childhood teacher.
A babysitting class will teach you how to interact with children and how to handle a wide variety of different situations that you might find yourself in as a childcare provider.
See my recommended babysitting courses.
Also see our beginner babysitting guides:
- How to babysit a baby
- Toddler babysitting tips
- How to babysit preschoolers
- How to babysit a difficult child
Learn about other classes you can take by reading our article: 24 Babysitting Qualifications (Which Ones Do You Need?)
3. Take A First Aid And CPR Course
Children are always climbing, reaching for items, and jumping off beds and couches. They often get lots of bumps and bruises while doing it too!
Knowing how to help children if they get hurt is very important when you're a babysitter.
If you're carefully watching children, then there is much less chance for them to get hurt or into trouble. But accidents happen, and you need to know what to do when there are no adults around to help.
First Aid will teach you everything from dealing with cuts and scratches all the way up to what to do if a child you're babysitting breaks their arm or starts choking.
Without taking a class, you might panic at the sight of blood or any kind of injury and not know what to do. First Aid and CPR training will provide you with the confidence to handle any kind of medical situation or emergency that you might run into while babysitting.
To compliment your training we recommend bringing a portable first aid kit, they're not expensive and they contain lots of supplies that are perfect for babysitting!
Read our article: How to be a safe babysitter for even more essential tips.
4. Learn More About Children
It can be helpful for babysitters to learn about child development.
That's the different stages that children go through and at which ages they learn basic skills like rolling over, sitting up, or walking.
It's not absolutely required for babysitting, but if you understand how children develop, then it can help set some expectations. If you understand the difference between what a 3-year-old and 5-year-old are capable of, then you can better plan your day of babysitting around that.
If you're planning to become a teacher or any kind of childcare worker, then it's wise to learn as much as you can about children early on. The more knowledgeable you are and the more qualifications you can get, the easier it will be later!
Read our babysitters guide to child psychology to learn about physical and mental development in children.
And see how babysitters can nurture children to bring out their best to take your skills to the next level.
5. Learn To Stand Up For Yourself
Babysitters need to have a good level of confidence.
You'll be supervising the children while their parents are away, so it is vital to be able to take on a leadership role. They should like spending time with you, but it is equally important that they respect you and listen to your instructions.
If the neighborhood children come over while you're babysitting, will you be able to tell them no and that the kids you're watching can't play at that moment?
It's not just children that you need to consider either. What will you do if parents don't pay you for babysitting or they're constantly coming home late when you have somewhere else important to be after babysitting? Will you be able to confront them and talk about it to resolve the issues?
Can you find a ride home for yourself if the parents you're babysitting for come home after having too many drinks and aren't able to drive you home?
It's a good idea to brainstorm some potential situations that could arise while you're babysitting and think about how you would resolve the situation. That way you'll already have a good idea of what to do.
6. Decide What Kind Of Babysitting Services You Want To Offer
One great part of babysitting is that you can pick and choose exactly who you want to work with.
If you feel nervous about babysitting for families with infants or babies, you don't have to agree to babysit for that particular family.
If watching three children at once seems too overwhelming, you can look for families that only have one or two children instead. Or you and a friend can always babysit for larger groups together and split the money.
7. Find Babysitting Jobs
Most babysitters find their first jobs through their network of family members and friends.
In fact, it's usually good to start slowly and babysit for someone that you know before you jump right into watching children for strangers.
I even recommend babysitting for free for friends and family a few times to gain childcare experience and get some parent references. (Learn more about babysitting references.)
When you're ready to branch out, ask friends and family members to share the fact that you're available for babysitting on social media.
You can reach out through your church or any other organization that you belong to. That way you can potentially reach more families with small children who might be looking for a babysitter.
Ask for permission to put up advertisements for your babysitting services in your family doctor or pediatrician's office, at your local library, or in local shops. Many of these places have community boards where you can put up a business card or flyer.
Print out some free babysitting flyers using our poster tool then put them around your neighborhood to let local families know about your service.
There are also online babysitting boards where you can look for jobs or post that you're available.
I recommend you read through our top free promotion methods for babysitters for more ideas on how to spread the word and find more work.
If you're trying to get babysitting jobs without having any prior experience read this article first: How to start babysitting with no experience to learn how to build up your experience step by step.
8. Set Your Rate
As much as you might enjoy spending time with children, you probably don't want to babysit for free! Money is an important part of babysitting.
You need to decide in advance how much you expect to get paid for babysitting. Your rate will depend on a number of factors like your age, experience, and qualifications. $10 per hour is fairly average for a babysitter in most places, although if you're brand new you might need to charge a bit less.
Some families might try to offer you an insultingly low amount. They might base their number on how much they used to get paid when they babysat 10 or 20 years ago! But don't be afraid to ask for more, or walk away from babysitting jobs where parents are only willing to pay you $10 for 4 hours of work.
Your rate might also change depending on the specific children that you're watching. Younger children need more hands-on attention so you should charge more than when you're watching older ones. And the more children that you're looking after, the more you should charge as well.
Ask other babysitters you know how much they usually charge for their services, or ask your parent or another trusted adult to get some idea of what's fair to charge. You might end up negotiating with families who want you to babysit, but it's good to have at least an idea of what you want to charge before you even speak to them.
How much should you charge? See our babysitting rate guide for details.
Also, learn how to negotiate a higher pay and make sure you get the rate you deserve!
9. Learn Valuable Interview Techniques
After you've advertised your babysitting services, people will hopefully start reaching out and asking to interview you for babysitting positions.
You can either do babysitting interviews over the phone or in person.
Be ready to answer questions for parents about your qualifications, why you want to babysit, and what experience you have. As well as how you'd handle specific situations, like if someone knocks on the front door or if a child is crying.
You should also bring proof that you've completed a babysitting course, First Aid and CPR, and any other safety courses that you've completed. Parents like to see these before hiring babysitters to make sure they're qualified.
Make sure to be safe when going for babysitting interviews! Let your parents know when the interview is, where you'll be, the names and addresses of the parents you're talking to, and any other information you can share. Call your parents to let them know as soon as the interview is over.
You may even want your parents to drive you to the interview and then wait outside in the car.
Make sure to bring everything you need to job interviews, see our article: What to bring on a babysitting job interview and download our handy checklist.
Also, see our tips for how to dress for a job interview to give you the best chance of winning the job.
If you've never been to a babysitting interview before, read our guide: What to expect on a babysitting interview so you can prepare.
But always be safe.
If something seems odd about the person who wants to hire you to babysit, be sure to tell your parents immediately.
Make sure you stay safe when visiting new families for the first time, read our article: How to stay safe when babysitting for more details.
10. Get To Know Families Before You Babysit
Hopefully, your interview will result in you getting offered your first babysitting job!
But before you start, it's a good idea to spend some time with the family before you're left alone with the children.
Ask to meet the parents and children at their house before your first babysitting shift. That way you can get a tour of the house and learn where everything is and which rooms are off-limits. Plus you can learn about the house rules and all of the responsibilities and expectations you'll have.
It's a good idea to bring an information sheet that you can fill out with all of the specific details about each family.
Meeting in advance is good for the children you'll be babysitting too. They'll feel more at ease if they get to meet their new babysitter in advance and have a chance to talk to their parents about it, instead of simply being left with a new stranger all of a sudden.
Parents may even ask you to do a trial run babysitting while they're at home too. If so, read our handy guide: How to babysit while the parents are home.
11. Plan Activities To Do While Babysitting
To become a good babysitter, you're going to need to do more than just show up!
Parents expect more from babysitters than just sitting them in front of the television for hours. You should have some ideas about what you'll do to keep the children entertained.
If you wait until you show up to come up with ideas based on what kind of toys and options are available at the home you're babysitting in, then you might have a hard time coming up with ideas.
It can help to ask the parents you'll be babysitting for in advance to find out what kinds of activities their children enjoy. That way you can prepare.
You also want to take the age of the children you're watching into account. Different activities may be appropriate for some ages but not others. Always run activities past parents before you go ahead with them.
Always come to your babysitting jobs with at least a few different ideas of activities that the children might want to do!
Bring some books to read, try face painting or explore our 200+ entertainment ideas for babysitters for inspiration.
12. Making A Babysitting Kit
It's a good idea to get a bag of supplies together that you always bring with you while babysitting.
You'll want a babysitting binder which includes all of the information about the family you'll be babysitting for, as well as general babysitting knowledge. But there are some items you can pack up as well.
Phone. You'll want a cell phone for your safety and the safety of the kids you're watching. That way you can call someone in case of an emergency. If you don't have your own cell phone, be sure to borrow one from a parent or older sibling, or get one of the parents you're babysitting for to leave one of their phones behind.
A notepad and pen. You never know when could need to take some notes. You might get special instructions from a parent that you need to follow that day, or you could want to make a note of something to discuss with parents when they get home.
First Aid kit. Have at least a small first aid kit with you at all times. It doesn't have to be a fully comprehensive kit. You can get small kits at your local pharmacy that include band-aids, gauze, bandages, antibiotic ointments, tweezers for removing splinters, and other common items.
Games or books. Bring games, coloring books, bubbles, and other toys to keep kids occupied.
See our list of 18 essential things to pack when babysitting so you don't forget anything important.
Arrange Transportation. If you have your driver's license then getting to your babysitting jobs is pretty easy. But if not, you'll need to arrange a ride to and from your babysitting job.
You can get your parents or an older sibling to drive you, or get the family that you're babysitting for to drive you home after you're done working.
It's a good idea to put your babysitting schedule on the fridge at home as a reminder to people who might need to drive you.
Keep your receipts!
Most things you buy for your babysitting kit can be claimed it back on your tax. See our tax guide for details: How to write off babysitting expenses.
13. Don't Worry About Being Perfect
The first time that you're left alone to babysit might be stressful, no matter how prepared you are. You want the parents you're babysitting for to be happy, and you also have the life of another little person in your hands!
Just remember that you've taken the training. You're qualified and you know what you need to do!
There is no such thing as the 100% perfect babysitter, but being confident really goes a long way when it comes to dealing with children and parents alike.
After a few babysitting sessions, you'll realize that normally it's pretty relaxed and normal and nothing bad is likely to happen as long as you're supervising children properly.
When you start out babysitting it may seem daunting at first, but it may surprise you how quickly you can pick it up. Before long you can find yourself gaining confidence and learning lots of new skills.
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My book, Babysitting Business Secrets, is out now as an inexpensive ebook or full-color paperback. If you're serious about becoming the best babysitter you can be, or if you want to make as much money as possible, then this book is perfect for you. I reveal all my tricks and tips for first-time babysitters or experienced sitters who just want to up their game. Get your copy today!
- Matthew Taylor, Kidsit Founder