You want to make sure that your babysitter has everything they could possibly need to take care of your children. That's why it's important to leave them with all of the information they might need.
What information to leave your babysitter:
- Your contact information
- Your fire plan
- Child medical information and allergies
- Food and drink
- Activity schedule
- House rules
- List of basic items and where to find them
- Information about your outing
- Bedtime routine details
In this article, we'll cover all the information you should leave for your babysitter and why:
What Information Do You Need To Leave For Your Babysitter?
You might feel like you're providing your babysitter with far more information than they'll ever need. It's better to provide too much information and cover every possible scenario instead of leaving room for possible confusion or misunderstandings.
Don't get me wrong... there's definitely such a thing as too much information. You don't want to leave your babysitter with an entire book to sift through, so I would recommend condensing everything into one or two pieces of paper.
Post a list of contact phone numbers somewhere obvious like next to your landline telephone or on your fridge. You should also get your babysitter to add a few of these numbers into the contact list of their cell phone so they can access them quickly.
Your number. You'll likely be the first point of contact for your babysitter if anything goes awry. Make sure to let your babysitter know if you don't text, otherwise, they'll wonder why you never respond to their messages.
Your partner's number. Your next point of contact if you aren't available. If you're a single parent, give your babysitter the number of someone else you trust that's local if you can't be reached.
Other local contacts. If you and your partner are both going to be out of town or not reachable, it's best to give another one or two numbers of friends, family, or neighbors. Be sure to include their names and addresses as well as phone numbers. That way they'll have someone to call in case of minor emergencies, like a power outage or your pet dog getting loose.
911 (or your regional equivalent.) If something is seriously wrong, this should be your babysitter's default number to call. Let them know to call 911 first before trying to contact you, especially in the case of something like a fire where a matter of minutes may be a big difference.
There are non-emergency numbers for police, fire, and ambulance, but your babysitter likely won't need to use these.
Family doctor and dentist. This contact might only be useful if your child has an emergency during regular working hours, although some doctors and dentists have emergency out-of-office phone services.
Poison control. If your child swallows something, your babysitter will need to call poison control to find out the best course of action to take. Different poisons require different treatments, and using the wrong one might cause more damage.
Local hospitals. If a serious injury happens but they don't think its quite serious enough to call 911, they might want to call a hospital directly and see if they can be of any assistance.
Be sure to leave your street address, including your postal/zip code and the nearest major intersection. As well as your floor and unit number if you're in an apartment. Police, fire, or medical personnel will need that information in an emergency.
A Fire Plan
Your babysitter will have to leave quickly in an emergency situation, along with your kids and pets. Your babysitter should have a fire escape route map so they're aware of all possible exits from your house. Especially in case one of them gets blocked off.
Include other details on your map like the location of fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, first aid kits, flashlights, circuit breaker and water shutoff.
Outline basic medical information about your child that your babysitter might need to know.
This includes food allergies, drug allergies, general allergies, medical conditions, special medications they need, etc. Make sure to go through these issues with your babysitter in advance to make sure they're aware.
Also, include any temporary health problems currently going on like diaper rash or diarrhea.
You might even want to cover some basic first aid, like what to do if a child is choking. Although ideally your babysitter is already qualified when it comes to CPR and first aid.
Don't forget to leave a healthcare authorization form for your babysitter as well. They won't be able to get medical attention for your child from a doctor or hospital without your consent. For details on how to do this, see our article Can a babysitter take a child to the doctor.
- Be sure to leave behind a photocopy of your child's health insurance card too.
- Include examples of times where you should be contacted, for example:
- If your child has an injury that needs more than just a Band-Aid.
- If your baby develops signs of an illness like vomiting or a fever.
- If your baby is inconsolable for a long period of time, despite ruling out all the usual things like hunger, needing a diaper change, etc.
- If the babysitter feels unsafe. Such as suspicious people around the house, threatening phone calls, etc.
- Any questions about medication doses.
Food and Drink Details
Suggest some meal ideas if the babysitter is going to be watching your kids during meal times. This might include a list of approved frozen dinners in the freezer, or instructions on how to reheat leftovers in the fridge.
See our article: Do you provide dinner for your babysitter for other easy meal ideas.
Also, suggest some snack or drink ideas. Be sure to lay out what's allowed and what is not allowed. Otherwise, your kids might trick their babysitter into letting them eat all the ice cream in the house and drink soda straight from the bottle.
Don't worry about providing too much detail. If your babysitter doesn't have children of their own, they might not know what foods can be a choking hazard or bad for babies.
Even large pieces of food like popcorn, grapes, and hot dogs can present a choking hazard to children under 4 years old.
Be sure to mention any food or drink restrictions, particularly if you have any babies under 1.
If your babysitter is going to be heating bottled breast milk or preparing formula, give detailed step by step instructions on how to do it.
An Activity Schedule
Kids are most comfortable when they have a regular routine, especially babies.
Let your babysitter know when your child eats their meals, when they go to bed, and what their bedtime routine involves. For example, if there's a specific book that you read your child before bed or any other important information to do with favorite toys or security blankets.
You might want to print out a sheet for your babysitter that they can fill in. You'll be able to see a check mark showing different things were done that way. Plus how much your baby ate when they had diaper changes, etc.
A Spare Key To The Home (And Where It's Located)
You'll want your babysitter to be able to lock up behind themselves if they have to take your kids out of the house for any reason. You can leave an extra key inside the house for them to take with them, or hidden somewhere outside around your house.
They might need to take your children out to get something to eat, or even just to make a trip to the playground to burn off some extra energy.
If your babysitter will be picking up the children from school every single day, it's probably easiest to just make them their own copy of your house key to keep on their keychain.
List of Basic Stuff And Where To Find It
Include information on where to find things like extra clothes and pajamas, books and toys, and bath supplies (along with safety instructions for bathing.)
Lay out all of your ground rules for both the babysitter and your children.
- Whether the babysitter can have friends over.
- Information about taking personal calls or texts while watching your baby (not recommended because it's a distraction.)
- What kinds of television programs are off-limits.
- Limits on the amount of television, tablet, or video game time.
- Foods that aren't allowed.
- Homework information.
- Which rooms or areas of the house are off-limits for playing.
- Children's bedtimes.
- Appliances that shouldn't be used, like electric heaters or blankets that might pose a fire hazard.
- What to do if a child breaks a rule or misbehaves.
- What to do or not do if a child isn't listening.
- No pictures on social media. (You probably don't want your babysitter to be taking pictures of your children on their phone and posting them on Instagram, Snapchat, or Facebook.)
See our complete list of recommended babysitter rules that all parents should enforce.
Information About Your Outing
- Where you will be, including the address and phone number in case you need to be reached.
- What time you expect to be home.
- When you'll call to check on your babysitter.
Give your babysitter a list of all the pets in your house and their names. This include dogs and cats, as well as smaller pets like hamsters, lizards, and fish. Even these smaller pets will probably need to have instructions on how to feed them each day.
Make sure your babysitter knows if you have a dog that will need to be let out to go to the bathroom. As well as if any of your pets will need to be fed or given fresh water while you're away.
Explain any behavior to watch out for like excessive barking or digging, which needs to be discouraged before it gets out of hand.
If you have a younger baby, you'll want to give special instructions about how the sitter can allow the baby to interact with pets.
Don't leave babies and dogs or cats together unattended!
Unless you're home by quite early in the evening, there's a good chance that your babysitter will need to be the person who puts your children to bed. Some things to include are:
- Whether to give any of your children a bath.
- How to diaper your baby and dress them for bed.
- Put dirty clothes into the clothes hamper.
- Make sure they brush their teeth.
- Which books to read, for how many minutes.
- Make sure the nightlight is plugged in.
- Whether to shut the door or leave it open.
Include any extra important information that doesn't seem to fit under any other category. That might include stuff like:
- What temperature you keep your thermostat at.
- Security system settings and codes.
- House maintenance.
- Information about garbage and recycling day.
- Whether they need to bring your mail inside.
- TV remote settings.
- Laundry machine settings and how to use them.
- Nearby stores, coffee shops, gas stations if needed.
If your child has special needs then you will need to leave extra information, see our guide: How to find a babysitter for a child with autism for what else to include.
Babysitter Checklist (Parent details form)
Now that you have a good idea of what information you need to include for your babysitter and why, let's break it down into a more basic checklist. Depending on details like how long you'll be away, you might want to add additional details from above.
What extra information should I leave with my babysitter if we're going on a longer trip or vacation? (multiple days)
If you're traveling, you'll want to give your babysitter extra information. Especially if there will be times that you won't be able to be reached, or where you won't have cell phone service.
It's a good idea to include all of your flights, including flight numbers and times. That way your sitter will be able to tell if you've been delayed.
You should also give the phone numbers of any hotels you're staying at, as an alternative emergency way to contact you.
Is it okay to let babysitters have a friend or boyfriend over?
It depends on your babysitter's age, level of maturity, how well you know them, and other factors. It's never appropriate for them to invite people into your home without asking for your permission first. It's unlikely that your babysitter will throw a house party at your home while you're away, but it's usually better to play it safe and just say no. After all, your babysitter is getting paid to do a job. Not just hang out with friends and socialize.