10 Tips: What to Expect When Babysitting an Infant
Babysitting an infant, a child under 1-year-old, is a big responsibility that requires utmost care and attention. During the early stages, the infant is highly dependent on adults to meet his/her basic needs, such as feeding, burping, bathing, changing, playing, and sleeping. Since they cannot talk yet, it will be up to you as the babysitter to decipher his fussiness and to address his needs.
To help you with your caring for an infant, here are some babysitting tips for you.
Tips for Babysitting an Infant
1. Get to know the baby through the parents.
Before you start your babysitting work, ensure that you set time with the parents to know more about the baby and the home. You must understand the baby’s routine and schedule for feeding, napping, and playing. You should also be aware of any known medical conditions and medication schedules. Familiarize yourself with where the first aid kit and baby supplies are. Lastly, you should have a list of the contact information of the parents and other emergency numbers.
TIP: Always have a copy of the Tiny Steps Babysitting Checklist to guide you on what to ask the parents. In case the parents don’t have a prepared Babysitting Checklist, you can use it as a guide.
2. Follow the feeding schedule
Routines are essential for infants. Make sure that you ask the parents about the feeding routines, milk or food amount, and frequency of feeding.
Infants below 4 to 6 months old drink milk. The interval of feeding depends on the baby’s age and whether he/she drinks breastmilk or formula.
For infants who have started complementary solid feeding, ask the parents what food and how the food needs to be made for the baby. Some parents prefer feeding freshly mashed food, some give store-bought baby food, while others practice baby-led weaning. When you are asked to prepare the food, ensure not to put any salt or other flavoring.
Hygiene is also very important when dealing with food, so ensure to wash your hands thoroughly before handling the child’s meal.
3. Burp the Baby After Feeding
Infants below 6 months old only drink milk, and so they need to be burped after feeding. Burping is necessary to expel some of the air that the baby swallowed during feeding. This will minimize if not avoid spit-ups and gassiness that lead to the baby’s fussiness.
To burp the child, carry the infant over your shoulder and gently pat the infant’s back. Ensure that the baby’s tummy is against you to help the air to come out.
4. Clean and Change Clothes Diaper regularly
Infants usually become uneasy when their diapers are soiled from pee or poo. When an infant cries, a soiled diaper is often the first thing that should be checked.
Here are some tips to make diaper changing pleasant for you and the baby.
a. When changing the baby’s clothes or diaper, ensure that his things such as clean clothes, diaper, baby wipes, and nappy cream, are within your reach.
b. Ensure that the baby is on a safe and flat surface.
c. Make it a bonding experience with the baby. You can play or sing songs with the baby to calm him down.
d. Check for diaper rash. If you see any redness, put diaper cream to help the rash heal faster.
5. Follow the Nap Schedule
Parents may already had trained the sleeping pattern of their little one. As babysitters, you must follow the nap schedule as the parents indicated to help them to maintain consistency in the schedule. Also, please ensure that you know their sleep strategy so that you can apply it too when on duty.
It is important to note that the baby should always lie on his/her back.
6. Check Environment for Safety Hazards
Before the baby naps, ensure to remove any toys and blankets from his crib to avoid SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
Also, ensure to check the crib or the bedroom for any small or sharp objects before putting down the baby. Infants like to explore around, and they tend to put everything in their mouths, so any small objects are choking hazards.
7. Talk and Play with Infant
Apart from food, clothes, and sleep, Infants need care and interaction. You can engage the infant by talking to him while maintaining eye contact. When this is done regularly, it can help the infant’s language and communication development. Although he may not be able to talk yet, you can see his/her response through her observing eyes, soft coos, and adorable smiles.
You can bond with the child through playing music or singing songs to the infant too. Music is said to have positive effects on the emotional and intellectual development of the child. By exposing the infant to music early on helps with building musical pathways to the brain.
Lastly, do not forget to play with the infant. You can play a silly game of peek-a-boo or give the infant age-appropriate toys like a rattle or a shaker.
By interacting with the child, you help establish a connection with him/her and make the child feel at ease.
8. Clean the Infant
If the parents have asked you to bathe the baby, you should do so with caution and remember these tips:
a. Keep the infant’s things such as clothes, shampoo, bath soap, lotion, and towel within arm’s reach.
b. Check the water temperature before placing the infant in the tub.
c. Never leave the infant unattended.
If the parents did not leave any specific instructions on whether you should bathe the infant and the infant becomes dirty, use a washcloth to clean the baby and let the parents know when they get home.
9. In case of emergency, do not panic and administer first aid.
Emergencies can happen anytime, and you need to stay calm at all times. Attend to the infant and administer first aid and, depending on the severity, call for help.
You should know how to apply first aid before applying for a babysitting job. You may check First Aid Training online.
10. Be comfortable and confident in caring for an infant
If you haven’t taken care of an infant before, start with babysitting with toddler or preschoolers or perhaps start with assisting parents first. You can slowly accept babysitting tasks with infants once you have gained experience with babysitting. Start with short periods and eventually take more extended periods when you become more self-assured and at ease with caring for an infant.
We hope that the tips will help you once you start to accept babysitting work with infants.
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