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The Super Sitter

Part 1



U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission


The Super Sitter

What Is Expected Of The Super Sitter

Where The Child Is ...

Toys They Play With

Super Sitter's Surprise Box

Playing Outdoors

Pool Safety

Poison: Food For Thought Only!

Time to Leave

Super Sitter's Very Important Phone


Childcare and Kids

Health, Safety, Nutrition and Kids

Related Articles

Helpful Information for You and Your Baby Sitter

American Trauma Society Offers Tips For Safety In the Home

Section 1: The Super Sitter

Baby sitting can be a super way for you to earn money. And, it's a good way for you to learn a lot about children, about families, about having a job, about managing money ... and about PRODUCT SAFETY. Every job has certain guidelines. Baby sitting is no exception. There are certain things that will be expected of you as a sitter and things that you should expect of the parents. That's why the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has prepared this Super Sitter Guide. It is to help you become more aware of some of these guidelines, particularly:

  • the need for constant observation and alertness to the child's environment
  • selecting toys for children that are not dangerous
  • the importance of children playing with toys in the proper manner
  • the need for keeping children's products in good condition so they don't become dangerous for them to use

Section 2: What Is Expected Of The Sitter

There are certain do's and don'ts. In addition to "sitting" with the children, these are a few of the things you should know and remember as a Safe Sitter.

  • Before the parents leave, get the names and phone numbers suggested in the Super Sitter's Very Important Phone Numbers List.

  • Have the parents show you through the house or apartment and point out where the items you will need are located, such as the children's clothing or playthings.

  • Always know where the emergency exits are located. In case of fire don't stop to try to put it out by yourself! Get the children out of the house without stopping to phone. Take them to a neighbor. Call the fire department, and then call the parents to let them know where you and the children are.

  • Keep the youngsters safe by preventing accidents. Know where the potential hazards are, such as electrical outlets, appliances, and exposed heating elements. Also ask the parents if all medicine, bleaches and household cleaners are securely locked up.

  • Stairs can be dangerous for youngsters. Keep a curious toddler from playing on or around them. Running or horseplay on them can lead to falls, particularly if the youngsters are wearing socks or other "slippery" footwear. Remember, too, that stairs are not meant to be a storage area. Anything placed on the stairs can become an obstacle to fall over.

  • If there is a gate across the stairway, make sure it is kept latched. Babies in carriages, walkers or strollers should never be left unattended, especially in an area around stairs or ramps -- whether indoors or out. A malfunction of the carriage's safety brake or a sudden movement by the child could put it right over the edge. If a gate is not provided, place a barrier of some kind in front of the stairway that a child cannot climb over. Accordion-style gates with large V-shaped or diamond-shaped openings should not be used since they can entrap a child's head, causing strangulation. A gate with a straight top or small V's and diamond-shaped openings is safer. Make sure pressure gates are firmly in place and can't be dislodged by the child.

  • Caution the child about the dangers of glass doors or windows. A child running or riding on a trike or bike could easily go through the glass. Be sure you keep toys, scatter rugs and other articles that could cause someone to slip or trip away from these areas. If you are caring for a particularly active child, place a large chair or other piece of furniture in front of the glass area for safety's sake. You also can suggest to the parents that large, colorful decals at eye level for both children and adults can make glass doors safer.

  • Unless specifically instructed by the parents, do not bathe the baby. A clean facecloth in lukewarm water will suffice in most cases for cleaning the skin. Bathing a baby calls for utmost care and supervision; aside from the risk of hot water scalds, there is always the danger of drowning. While you may want to be of help to the parents, bathing the infant is not recommended.

  • If you are changing the baby's diapers, plan on having everything within immediate reach so you won't have to step away from the infant even for a second. If you are not constantly watching them, babies can roll over and fall from changing tables or other high places. Have diapers, pins, etc., next to you so the baby is under constant supervision.

  • Infants may choke on small items which they put in their mouths. Small pieces of food, coins, pins and other non-toy items could lodge in the baby's throat and cause choking or asphyxiation. It could also occur with small toys or parts of toys intended for older children. Watch the baby carefully to make sure these objects are not within reach. In the event of accidental choking, apply first aid measures to clear the child's airway. Also call the rescue squad. (If you don't know first aid, contact your local American Red Cross office or an approved community agency for instruction.)

  • A "super sitter" will look for hazards before they surface. Loose, baggy clothing can be dangerous if it gets caught on furniture, cribs, playpens, etc., as children climb, play or scamper about the room. Clothing can also be a problem if it becomes tightly wound around the baby. Be on the alert for hazards such as these, and adjust the clothing so that it cannot become tangled.

  • To prevent accidental injuries, keep doors and windows locked at all times. Remember that children, though under your supervision, can at times just "seem to disappear" from your watchful eye.

  • Never open the door to strangers. If there is a question about someone at the door, call the parents to check with them.

  • In case of accident or illness, don't try to be doctor or nurse except for minor cuts and bruises. Call the parents for instructions. If they cannot be reached, call your own parents or go to a neighbor for help. The sick or hurt child may require a doctor or emergency care.

Back to the Table of Contents

Section 3: Where The Child Is ...

With several children -- particularly toddlers (2 and 3 year olds) -- you won't be doing much sitting." You'll be playing with them and supervising their play activities. Where They Play ... Just a reminder that whether you're actually playing with the children or supervising them, keep them within safe play areas, preferably within your sight. Keep them away from potential danger areas in the home such as the kitchen, bathroom, workshop and storage areas. They move fast, so you will have to be able to move even faster!

The Playpen
You should be aware of hazards to a child left alone in a playpen. A string of toys across the top or even to one side of the playpen could be a strangulation risk. Dropside mesh playpens and portable mesh cribs, used with a side left down, can pose a serious hazard to newborns and infants. When the side is down, the mesh forms a loose pocket into which an infant can fall or roll and suffocate. Dropsides should ALWAYS be up and locked securely in position when a child is in the playpen or crib. Don't put any toys in the playpen that a child can climb on to get out. And little fingers can get caught in hinges.

Baby Walkers ... the baby hot rod!
Baby walkers seem fun to scoot around in, but they also can scoot down a flight of stairs, into a hot stove, against a table edge or into a glass door. They offer limited balance to a child not yet completely able to stand or walk. If unstable, walkers can easily tip over. Stay with the child when he or she is in the walker, and assist it over thresholds or carpeting.

High Chairs
A child in a high chair requires almost constant attention. Babies can slip out of a high chair in an instant if not properly strapped in. An unstable high chair can tip over ... with the baby in it! Make sure that any safety belts or straps on the high chair are securely fastened and that the tray is properly secured. Don't let the child stand up while in the chair, and keep other children from climbing on it. Keep the chair away from "traffic lanes," doorways, refrigerator and stove, and far enough away from tables and walls so that the child can't push the chair over.

The Crib
If baby is to sleep safely, make sure that the crib is as safe as you can make it. If there is too much room (more than two fingers width) between the mattress and the side of the crib, an infant's head could get caught in between and the infant could suffocate. Roll up a couple of large bath towels and place them in the space. If the slats are more than 2-3/8 inches apart, the baby's body can slide between the slats and the baby can suffocate.

If the child is old enough to stand up, the parents should set the mattress at its lowest position, with the side rail at its highest position. Check the mattress support frequently to make sure it hasn't become unhooked from the end panels. Any toys you leave in the crib should never be ones that could be used to help in climbing out. Also, do not use crib toys that may have strings or elastic attached to them -- these can strangle or choke! Cribs with decorative knobs on the cornerposts can be a strangulation hazard. Children's clothing and strings or necklaces can catch on the protrusions, especially if the child is trying to climb out. Crib gyms should be removed from the crib when the baby is five months old or can push up on hands and knees, otherwise the baby can get his/her chin across the crib gym or catch clothing on it and strangle.

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Continue on to Part 2


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