Babysitting is often the first opportunity kids have to earn money outside of their home, and the best babysitters are those who are prepared to handle a variety of situations.

“Babysitting is a very big responsibility,” says Carisa Hettich, executive director of the Southwest Oregon Chapter of the American Red Cross, which offers a babysitting training course. The 6-hour course, offered online and occasionally in-person in a group setting, is designed to teach kids ages 11-15 how to be safe, professional and reliable when caring for younger children.

“Students are going to learn a broad range of things through this course, including how to be a better babysitter and also how to build their business,” Carisa says.

The babysitter training course includes:

  • Basic care for infants and children
  • Basic first aid
  • Child behavior
  • Age-appropriate activities
  • Emergency protocols
  • Professionalism
  • Leadership

Participants also have the opportunity to become certified in first aid and CPR/AED. The American Red Cross babysitter training course is designed for teens and tweens who will be taking on paid jobs outside the home, and also for kids who will be watching younger siblings. The course fee is $40 dollars, and you can learn more here.

What parents can do to prepare their babysitter
Pediatrician Dr. Pilar Bradshaw says there are important steps parents should take to prepare their babysitter for success.

  • Make sure your babysitter has at least two phone numbers where they can reach you, as well as the number for the poison control center (800-222-1222) and the numbers of a few trusted neighbors or close friends.
  • Walk your babysitter through your house, so they are familiar with the layout and which areas you prefer your children stay out of while you are gone.
  • Show them where the first aid kit and supplies are located.
  • Let your babysitter know if your child has any medical conditions.

“If your kid has asthma, an allergy to peanuts, has seizures or anything like that—even if it hasn’t happened for years—be sure that you write down that information and verbally discuss it with the babysitter,” Dr. Bradshaw says.

The more prepared and comfortable a teen feels while babysitting, the more confident he or she will be handling issues that arise—from a toddler’s meltdown to a true emergency. For more information on babysitting, click here.