The Holiday-Specific Mistakes Not to Make With Your Babysitter

ByAnisa Arsenault
Associate Editor
Published
Dec 2017
babysitter lying on floor with little girl in blanket
Photo: iStock

Whether you need a pinch-hitter sitter for your last-minute shopping or a well-meaning aunt starts insisting on offering her services, chances are your child will spend time alone with someone he or she isn’t used to this holiday season. And a new study found that parents could be doing a better job of preparing these “backup” babysitters for emergency situations.

According to the new C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health at the University of Michigan, less than half of parents with children between the ages 0 and 5 did something as simple as post emergency contact information in a visible place. Only 48 percent wrote down their work or cell numbers, 47 percent gave a number for their child’s doctor, and 42 percent listed an emergency friend or relative to contact.

“Parents often need extra babysitting help around the holidays when childcare facilities are closed and regular babysitters are less available,” says Mott poll co-director Sarah Clark. “Family members and friends may be a natural choice to help watch children but parents should make sure they are preparing babysitters for emergencies, especially those who don’t have young children themselves…Parents shouldn’t assume sitters have all of the information they need. They should go over basic information whether they will be gone all day or just a couple of hours.”

After polling 546 adults without children, Mott researchers found they worried about three aspects of child care, in particular:

  1. Choking
  2. Injury
  3. Being unprepared to deal with a child

Researchers also asked childless adults how they would handle certain situations, like a child accidentally swallowing medication. About 49 percent of adults would call Poison Control while 38 percent would immediately take the child to the ER.

There’s not always a right or wrong in emergency situations, but there is a parental preference. Clark is urging parents to make those preferences more clear.

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