How to Care for a Newborn When Babysitting

By Kimberly Turtenwald
Newborns should always sleep on their backs.
Newborns should always sleep on their backs.

Taking care of someone else's child is a big responsibility, especially when that child is a newborn. Hiring you to care for their newborn is an act of extreme trust by the parents. This is why some parents won't leave a newborn baby with a babysitter. However, some parents are comfortable with it and do leave their baby with a babysitter. As the babysitter, you need to use caution and common sense when caring for a newborn.

Read through the directions left by the parents carefully before they leave. Make sure that they note how often to feed the baby, how much to feed and emergency contact numbers. Ask any questions you have so that you can care for the baby properly.

Feed the baby as closely to her schedule as possible. Newborn babies eat small amounts often and rely heavily on a consistent schedule. If the parents want you to wake the baby to feed her, do it.

Burp the baby at regular intervals during each feeding and immediately after. Ask the parents for instructions on how they handle burping. Some burp after each half ounce, while others only burp once in the middle and once at the end.

Change his diaper every time you feed him or he feels wet or smells. Newborn babies go through a lot of diapers in a day, so don't be shy about changing him often. If he's drinking breast milk, he may only urinate.

Lay the baby down when she's sleeping, especially if the parents tell you to. However, if she gets upset whenever you lay her down, it's okay to hold her longer. Newborn babies should sleep on their backs at all times. Avoid putting any blankets, toys or stuffed animals in the crib with the baby. The baby should be in the crib without anything else.

Hold the baby if he cries or becomes agitated. Newborn babies need comfort and to know someone will take care of their needs. Before the parents leave, ask if they have limitations on holding the baby.

Engage the baby when he's awake. Talk to him and show him things. Wave rattles and other small toys for him so that he can watch them. Newborn babies aren't interactive, but they're learning and absorbing everything around them.

Place the baby in her crib or another safe place if the crying becomes more than you can handle or you begin to feel frustrated. It's okay to leave her in her crib while you shut the door and go to another room to calm yourself. This can avoid a serious and possibly deadly accident.

Change the baby's clothes if he spits up or leaks out of his diaper. Avoid letting him sit in wet clothing. Parents are used to a baby going through several outfits a day.

Tip

Avoid talking on the phone or inviting someone else over when watching a newborn. The baby should receive your full attention. Always put the baby in a safe place, such as a crib, bouncer on the floor or swing, if you need to leave the room for any reason. Accidents can happen quickly, even with a newborn.

About the Author

Kimberly Turtenwald began writing professionally in 2000. She has written content for various websites, including Lights 2 You, Online Consultation, Corpus Personal Injury and more. Turtenwald studied editing and publishing at Wisconsin Lutheran College.