Tips Tricks and Items Every Babysitter Needs for Keeping Children Happy

What are some items every babysitter needs to carry with them? What are tips and tricks a babysitter needs to know in order to make for happy children?

When a parent leaves their child in the care of someone else, it is comforting to know they will be taken care of and safe.  It adds an extra layer of comfort and peace of mind for a parent when their child is left in the hands of a babysitter, daycare worker or nanny who puts effort and love into the job.  This kind of babysitter takes the job of caring for the child seriously and pulls out the stops to make the child feel at home, safe, happy, entertained and maybe even come away having learned something new.  One way a babysitter can come prepared is to pack a large tote bag full of goodies to pull out when the time is right.  Here's some things to include in your bag of tricks:

Bubbles - It's very difficult to find a toddler or young child who isn't fascinated by watching bubbles blow across the air.  They giggle and run to catch and pop them.  Even young babies enjoy watching the floating bubbles in amazement.  If you have the breath and endurance, some toddlers are entertained by bubble-blowing for quite a long time.

Stuffed animal - Bears, bunnies, dogs and even cats seem to work best as they are easily recognized and tend to be cuddly.  But, choose any stuffed animal that captures your interest.  Find the cuddliest, friendliest looking stuffed animal you can.  This provides comfort to children who are not happy about their parent leaving.  It can also be used as a sort of puppet while you make the animal "talk" to the child.  This kind of interaction can take the child's mind off of the fact that his or her parent just left as they look into the eyes of a friendly-looking stuffed animal.

Colorful or character-theme Band-Aid - These are fairly inexpensive to buy in a box of several Band-Aids.  Be prepared to purchase them after every babysitting encounter as some children really like Band-Aids.  Of course, they can come in handy if there is a true need for a Band-Aid.  But, they are fun to use to heal pretend booboos or to play with the stuffed animal to make the animal "feel better."

Small colorful books - You can include popular TV character-theme books or chunky, durable books that never go out of date that show colorful pictures of shapes, colors, numbers, letters.  You might also want to throw in a fairytale book like Cinderella or Robin Hood that can be acted out by dress up or with puppets.

Finger or hand puppets - You can purchase these very inexpensively from a dollar store.  Or, use a sock and transform it into a puppet.  Make-believe puppet play can be fun and pulls a child into an imaginary fun world where anything make believe can happen.  You can even use the puppets to act out a story from a book.  Even small infants can be entertained and fascinated by watching someone move a puppet around while singing or making funny sounds.

Dress up items - Pick up dollar store fun sunglasses or colorful scarves at a thrift store, magic wands, tutus, bow ties, etc.  Basically anything that will fit into your tote bag that is inexpensive and can be transformed into a dress up item will work well.  Sometimes when a child sees you dressing up and acting silly, they laugh and feel more comfortable to relax and be themselves.  Then, they might want to join in and dress up as well.  But, avoid masks as they sometimes can scare a child.  The sky's the limit for possibilities with dress up, and it doesn't take complex costumes to have fun.  Often, less is more when it comes to dressup.

Paper, coloring books with crayons or washable markers - White typing paper or colorful construction paper or plain old fashioned coloring books work well.  Some children can literally sit and color for hours.  Others may not even glance at crayons and paper with any sort of interest.  If the child is not interested in coloring, you could still bring the paper alive by drawing easy pictures to make them smile such as turning a circle into a smile face or a sun.  Or, you can begin by tracing the child's hand print (something the parent may want to keep, so jot down the child's name and date on the reverse side).  Help the child copy what you draw.  Draw a line, and have the child trace one next to yours until you design a road on which to drive a toy car.  Be creative.

Toys (not so small that they are choking hazards - If they fit through the center of a toilet paper tube, you might want to reconsider using it since it is a choking hazard).  Still, you want the toy to fit inside your tote bag, so don't go too big.  Small trucks or dolls are good examples of toys that most children like to play with.  When selecting small toys, consider small parts that could come loose and become a choking hazard as well.

An experienced or quality babysitter (caregiver) knows that the transitional time when parent is leaving can be the most vital for establishing trust and for calming and entertaining a child.  If the sitter comes complete with the above tote bag full of goodies, he or she has a great edge on establishing this relationship of trust and making for a happy visit together.

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Posted on Aug 4, 2011
Kris Ruddy
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Posted on Feb 9, 2010