Emergency and backup childcare

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Updated: 4/11/2007 2:45 pm
If you've chosen an in-home caregiver who spends several days a week with your child, or even if you only need an occasional babysitter, it's a good idea to build a list of trustworthy backups. If your regular caregiver becomes sick, has a family crisis, wants to take time off, or finds another job, you don't want to have to scramble to find a replacement. If your child is six months or younger, it's best that the child be left in the hands of an experienced relative or other adult. Older children can be watched by teenagers. There are even some organizations that have short training courses for babysitters, which also may be a source for you to find capable childcare. Other parents may be able to give you a referral, or you can check out the nursery of your local church or other nonprofit organization. If it's possible, first have the sitter watch your child while you're doing something at home. That allows you to observe how the sitter interacts with your child, as well as allowing the child time to become familiar with the sitter. Always leave the address and phone number where you can be reached, as well as numbers for your doctor, the local hospital, and another relative or friend who'll be home in case you can't be reached. Let the sitter know when you'll be home, and what you expect to be done for the child while you're gone. The sitter also should know any other family rules, what food is O-K to be eaten, and that there should be no visitors. Make sure the pay rate is clear, and if any housekeeping chores are involved, those should be extra. When you're ready to leave, make sure your child understands you're leaving and you'll be back. Don't sneak out, and don't get involved in long scenes as you walk out the door. Check in with the sitter while you're gone, if it makes you feel comfortable.
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