Tips on Babysitting Infants

By Laura Wood

Babysitting infants can be an exciting and rewarding experience. It's fun to watch them learn how to interact with their surroundings. An infant relies on you as a caregiver to do even the most basic of tasks. There are a number of tips for babysitting an infant so you can give them the care and attention they need.

Preparation

It's difficult to prepare yourself for every eventuality while babysitting, however, there are a few things you can do before taking care of an infant. Meet with parents and the infant before your unsupervised babysitting duties take place; a child will feel comfortable around people they know and anxious with strangers. Familiarize yourself with the infant so he can feel comfortable around you.

Compile a list of emergency contact numbers you might need in case of a problem. These can include the phone numbers to the parents' cell phones, another relative in the area, the place they're visiting (such as work, a friend's house or a restaurant), the family's pediatrician and the local medical center. Ask if the infant has any special dietary requirements, including food allergies.

Routine

You need to follow a set routine for infants so they can adapt to being away from their parents. Ask the parents to give you an hour-by-hour breakdown of the infant's daily routine. This should include the times of feeding, nap times, play time and bedtime. Use their routine to plan when you need to prepare meals, what activities you can do with the infant and how long she needs to nap. Follow any extra instructions from the parents, like the times an infant should have medication if she is ill or takes prescription medication.

Play

Infants learn to respond to sounds and visual objects throughout their first year of development. Parents want their kids to be entertained by a babysitter. Set the baby on your lap facing you, and read and sing to him so he can hear the sound of your voice. Give him soft toys to grab onto and rattles to make a sound. Play peek-a-boo by covering your face with your hands or a book; the baby will enjoy this and giggle.

If an infant is able to move about on his own, supervise him as he explores his surroundings. Lay him on his tummy and watch him roll over onto his back. Let him pull himself up to a standing position using the couch. Play music so he can move along to the rhythm.

Health & Safety

A primary responsibility is making sure the infant is safe and healthy. Check where the emergency exits of the house are, how each door opens and where the first aid kit is located. Never leave an infant unattended, and make sure the baby monitor works well if the infant has to have a nap in another room. Take an infant course in CPR and basic first aid. These can be found at your nearest American Red Cross branch and local hospital. Let parents know your level of first aid training.

Change an infant's diaper regularly. Make sure it's changed once it is wet or the child can develop a diaper rash. Make sure you know how to properly change a diaper, because if it's too tight, it can leave red marks on an infant's legs. Change her clothing and bibs regularly if she spills food on them, as wet clothing can also cause discomfort and a rash.