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
Poison: Food For Thought Only!
Time to Leave
Super Sitter's Very Important Phone
Childcare and Kids
Health, Safety, Nutrition and Kids
Helpful Information for You and Your Baby Sitter
American Trauma Society Offers Tips For Safety In
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
- selecting toys for children that are not dangerous
- the importance of children playing with toys in the proper
- 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.
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- Before the parents leave, get the names and phone numbers
suggested in the Super Sitter's Very Important Phone Numbers
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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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