This is the time of year when we all have holiday parties to attend and may be leaving our kids with sitters more often. We asked John Perkins from to help us understand the importance of training the babysitter and how to go about it. Particularly if you have kids with special needs like we do, this can be an important step in having a successful experience. Thanks, John!

Your children are your most precious treasure, and you provide the best care you can. So why wouldn’t you give your babysitter the training so they can provide the best care they can, too? This isn’t going to be a super formal, but should be approached with a sense of seriousness, as it is important to get across to your sitter, who may not have much experience.

Emphasizing the Opportunity

Many baby sitters view the job as an easy way to make some extra money, which it can be, but you need to explain to them the other opportunities that lie within this position, like establishing good work habits and references, and learning how to care for children, should they decide to become a parent someday. Don’t skip over this step. Someone interested in learning will be much easier to train than someone who doesn’t understand what they have to gain from what you are teaching them.

Breed Familiarity

How comfortable your children are with strangers will vary greatly depending on age and the child’s personality, but you should always spend some time letting your sitter and children become acquainted while you’re present.

If you’re interviewing potential candidates, your children should be present at these times to start the initiation process. Have them meet again once or twice when you meet with the sitter you’ve selected to exchange information and provide instruction and expectations.

Information Exchange

Stability and consistency in parenting are important for the development of your children, and since the baby sitter will be acting as the parent in your absence, it is important to make sure they know how you want your children treated. Try to frame this instruction as guidelines and only have a few strict rules.

Your sitter will likely appreciate this guidance, as it provides them with a structure to work from, but understand that everyone needs to have a little wiggle room to allow for their own personal style. (Big conflicts in child rearing styles should be a consideration in the selection process, not something you try to get around with hundreds of rules.) It can also be beneficial to explain why you do certain things, so the sitter is better able to understand and adapt techniques to other situations you haven’t discussed. For instance, instead of only saying, “Stevie only uses this blanket,” add, “because he has sensitive skin and sometimes develops a rash with wool blankets,” giving your sitter the chance to incorporate this information into her clothing choices when she comes over.

Walk Them through the Routine

There are no routine days, but you should still walk them through everything that is standard in a day or evening; feeding, burping, napping, changing diapers, play time activities, etc.

Specific to Your Home

You’ll likely already do this, but make sure the training you give your sitter is specific enough for them to do everything with your children and your home. Maybe your sitter lives in a ranch style house and hasn’t had to consider the danger stairs pose to your toddler, or they’ve always had a gas stove and won’t think about how long the burner stays hot after you turn it off. These are easy things to overlook, but can be crucial to keeping your baby sitter from making a big mistake.

In Case of Emergency

It’s easy to panic in an emergency and overlook the obvious things you should do, and it is going to be even easier to panic for someone as young as your baby sitter likely is. Prepare them for the worst by providing a list of numbers to call including the police, family or trusted friends that live nearby, your cell phone, and the number of where you will be (i.e. the theater you’ll be at with your phone off).

Show them where the fire extinguisher is and how to use it. Show them where the main water shutoff valve and gas valve is and how to turn them off.

Find out if they are first aid and CPR certified. If they aren’t have them get certified, either through an online course or a hands-on training session.

Hold a Dry Run

In order to put both yourself and your sitter at ease, hold a trial session where you are available in case of problems but your sitter is responsible for taking care of your child. You should be away in a different part of the house or somewhere nearby where you can leave or talk to your sitter on the phone at any time.

Going through this dry run will make your first night out much more enjoyable, not having to worry as much about how your child is doing with the sitter.

Peace of Mind

All of this might sound like a lot of work, but this is for the benefit of your children. Finding, training, and keeping a reliable baby sitter will go a long way towards making your life easier and more enjoyable in the long run.


John Perkins works as a marketing manager with and enjoys writing about topics related to health and wellness. In his free time, he enjoys wake boarding, going to concerts, and cooking with fresh ingredients.