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Baby-Sitting Tips

From "The Baby-sitters Club Guide to Baby-sitting" by Ann M. Martin.

ON YOUR OWN WITH THE KIDS "What do we do now?"

The parents have left, feeling confident that their children are in good hands. You've got the number where they can be reached on a pad next to the phone and you also have a back-up number of a neighbor. Now it's time to have fun.


It doesn't take a whole lot to entertain babies. Mostly you need to make sure that they're safe. If they're still too little to walk, be extra careful when they're sitting on couches or beds-they could fall off. If they're able to pull themselves to their feet and scoot along furniture, make sure they don't slip on magazines on the floor.

Babies like to lie on their stomachs and kick their legs. Spread a blanket on the floor and put on music, so they can wiggle.

Babies like rattles and things that jingle or make noise.

Babies like to be read to. Books like Pat the Bunny are nice because they can feel the bunny fur and look at themselves in the mirror.

All of my brothers and sisters liked to play Peek-a-Boo when they were babies. Use your hands or a book or a diaper and watch them giggle.

Be sure and keep an eye on the baby's diaper. It's not good for a baby to spend hours in the same soggy diaper. She could get diaper rash. Check it at least once an hour and be sure and change the diaper before putting the baby to bed.

WHAT TO DO WITH A TODDLER (age one to three)

This age group is into everything. One second they are pulling all of the books off the shelves and the next second they are in your purse and taking apart your wallet. The youngest toddlers can entertain themselves by trying to assemble plastic food containers. As they get closer to three, toddlers like stacking blocks and dressing dolls, or playing with clay and coloring. They still are at the age that they're playing beside other kids but not really with them.

Games and songs for one-year-olds:

Ring Around the Rosie
Patty Cake
This Little Piggy Went to Market

Kids love to make noise. If you can find a wooden spoon or any kind of spoon and a cardboard box, they'll create their own music. But hold your ears!

Games for one- to three-year olds:

Hide and Seek
Mother, May I?
Duck, Duck, Goose
Red Light, Green Light
Simon Says

It seems that most kids love to build forts. All you need are a couple of blankets or sheets, and some chairs or a table. Then you can pretend to be pirates, or Peter Pan and Wendy, or Davy Crockett. For an extra-special treat, let them eat snacks inside their fort.

Songs for one- to three-year-olds:

The Wheels on the Bus

This Old Man

Where Is Thumbkin?

The Itsy Bitsy Spider

Old MacDonald

The Hokey Pokey

I like to put on music and dance. Sometimes we pretend we're butterflies. Sometimes we tie towels or scarves around our shoulders and play super heroes flying through the air.

Books for this age:

For one-year-olds: Any books with animal pictures and animals sounds. They also like the Find the Puppy (Duck or Kitty) books by Stephen Cartwright. And board books are great!

For all toddlers:
Go Dog Go by P.D. Eastman
We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Helen Oxenbury
The Cat in the Hat (or anything) by Dr. Seuss
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

(This is just a place to start. Go to the library and pick your own books. Kids like ones with fun pictures and lots of repetition.)


This age group still likes to build things with blocks and play with dolls and cars but now it's even more fun becasue they want to play with you and their brothers and sisters. They like to try to read simple books but they are also getting to the age where they enjoy listening to you read more complicated stories.

Games for three- to six-year-olds:

All of the games listed for one- to three-year-olds, plus:
Board games
Cards: Go Fish and Old Maid

Children love to play house and school and dress-up of any kind. Sometimes all you need is a hat or a scarf or a pair of glasses.


Fold paper hats out of newspaper and color them.
Make masks by cutting holes in paper bags, decorating them and just slipping them over your head.

Books for three- to six-year-olds:

All of the books for the younger ages, plus any early readers.
Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne
Babar the King by Jean De Brunhoff
Rikki Tiki Tavi by Rudyard Kipling
The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch
Clifford the Big Red Dog by Norman Bridwell


Once kids are in elementary school, baby-sitting is more like caring for a younger friend. They enjoy all of the activities previously listed and will suggest many more of their own.

When I know I'm sitting for kids in elementary school I always stock my kid-kit with a few more card games and board games like Risk and Monopoly.

Cooking projects can be lots of fun, but make sure you check with the parents first. It's better if the kids are three or over and there are no small babies around. Remember, it's awfully hard to supervise cooking and watch an infant at the same time.

Books for six-year-olds and up:
Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little by E.B. White

The Mouse and the Motorcycle (or others) by Beverly Cleary
A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers