THE SUPER SITTER
What is expected of the Sitter
Where the Child is...
Toys they play with
Super Sitter's surprise box
Poison: Food for thought only
sitting can be a super way for you to earn money. And, it's a good
way for you to learn a lot about children, about families, about
having a job, about managing money ... and about PRODUCT SAFETY.
Every job has certain guidelines. Baby sitting is no exception.
There are certain things that will be expected of you as a sitter
and things that you should expect of the parents. That's why the
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has prepared this Super
Sitter Guide. It is to help you become more aware of some of these
need for constant observation and alertness to the child's environment
toys for children that are not dangerous
importance of children playing with toys in the proper manner
need for keeping children's products in good condition so they
don't become dangerous for them to use
THE CHILD IS ...
children -- particularly toddlers (2 and 3 year olds) -- you won't
be doing much sitting." You'll be playing with them and supervising
their play activities. Where They Play ... Just a reminder that
whether you're actually playing with the children or supervising
them, keep them within safe play areas, preferably within your sight.
Keep them away from potential danger areas in the home such as the
kitchen, bathroom, workshop and storage areas. They move fast, so
you will have to be able to move even faster!
You should be aware of hazards to a child left alone in a playpen.
A string of toys across the top or even to one side of the playpen
could be a strangulation risk. Dropside mesh playpens and portable
mesh cribs, used with a side left down, can pose a serious hazard
to newborns and infants. When the side is down, the mesh forms a
loose pocket into which an infant can fall or roll and suffocate.
Dropsides should ALWAYS be up and locked securely in position when
a child is in the playpen or crib. Don't put any toys in the playpen
that a child can climb on to get out. And little fingers can get
caught in hinges.
Baby Walkers ... the baby hot rod!
Baby walkers seem fun to scoot around in, but they also can scoot
down a flight of stairs, into a hot stove, against a table edge
or into a glass door. They offer limited balance to a child not
yet completely able to stand or walk. If unstable, walkers can easily
tip over. Stay with the child when he or she is in the walker, and
assist it over thresholds or carpeting.
A child in a high chair requires almost constant attention.
Babies can slip out of a high chair in an instant if not properly
strapped in. An unstable high chair can tip over ... with the baby
in it! Make sure that any safety belts or straps on the high chair
are securely fastened and that the tray is properly secured. Don't
let the child stand up while in the chair, and keep other children
from climbing on it. Keep the chair away from "traffic lanes," doorways,
refrigerator and stove, and far enough away from tables and walls
so that the child can't push the chair over.
If baby is to sleep safely, make sure that the crib is as safe
as you can make it. If there is too much room (more than two fingersdth)
between the mattress and the side of the crib, an infant's head
could get caught in between and the infant could suffocate. Roll
up a couple of large bath towels and place them in the space. If
the slats are more than 2-3/8 inches apart, the baby's body can
slide between the slats and the baby can suffocate.
If the child is old enough to stand up, the parents should set the
mattress at its lowest position, with the side rail at its highest
position. Check the mattress support frequently to make sure it
hasn't become unhooked from the end panels. Any toys you leave in
the crib should never be ones that could be used to help in climbing
out. Also, do not use crib toys that may have strings or elastic
attached to them -- these can strangle or choke! Cribs with decorative
knobs on the cornerposts can be a strangulation hazard. Children's
clothing and strings or necklaces can catch on the protrusions,
especially if the child is trying to climb out. Crib gyms should
be removed from the crib when the baby is five months old or can
push up on hands and knees, otherwise the baby can get his/her chin
across the crib gym or catch clothing on it and strangle.
THEY PLAY WITH ...
children to play safely by showing them how to use their toys in a
safe manner and by teaching them to put their toys away after play.
Be particularly aware of safe and unsafe toys. These are some toy
dangers you should be aware of:
1. SMALL PARTS.
Tiny toys and toys with small removable parts can be swallowed
or become lodged in a child's throat, windpipe, ears or nose. The
seams of poorly constructed stuffed dolls or animals can break open
and release small pellets that can be swallowed or inhaled.
2. SHARP EDGES.
Toys of brittle plastic or glass can be broken easily, leaving
dangerous, sharp, cutting edges. Metal and plastic toys sometimes
have sharp edges due to poor construction.
3. SHARP POINTS.
Broken toys can expose dangerous prongs and knifelike sharp points.
Pins and staples on dolls' clothes, hair and accessories can easily
puncture an unsuspecting child.
4. LOUD NOISES.
Toy caps and some noise-making guns and other toys can produce
sounds at noise levels that can damage hearing. Do not allow children
to fire cap guns closer than one foot to the ear; also, do not use
5. PROPELLED OBJECTS.
Projectiles -- guided missiles and similar flying toys -- can
be turned into weapons and can injure eyes in particular. Children
should never be permitted to play with adult lawn darts or other hobby
or sporting equipment that have sharp points. Arrows or darts used
by children should have soft cork tips, rubber suction cups or other
protective tips intended to prevent injury. Teach children that these
toys should never be aimed at people or pets.
6. ELECTRIC TOYS.
Electric toys that are improperly constructed, wired or used can
shock or burn. Electric toys with heating elements are only recommended
for children over eight years old. Children should be taught to use
electric toys cautiously and under adult supervision.
7. WRONG TOY FOR THE WRONG AGE.
Toys that may be safe for older children -- like a chemistry or
hobby set or games with small pieces -- can be extremely dangerous
in the hands of little ones.
8. CORDS AND STRINGS.
Toys with long strings or cords may be dangerous for infants and
very young children. The cords may become wrapped around an infant's
neck, causing strangulation. Never hang toys with long strings, cords,
loops or ribbons in cribs or playpens. Pacifiers should never be attached
to strings or ribbons around a baby's neck.
SITTER'S SURPRISE BOX
To overcome any
outbursts from the children when the parents are leaving, you may
want to have your own Super Sitter's Surprise Box. This can be anything
in the way of toys or treasures for them to play with, to stimulate
curiosity and to take away fear of being left "forever."
The box can be of your own design. It can be as complicated and complex
as an overnight case filled with colorful, new, exciting and safe
toys you buy (or borrow from a younger sister or brother). It can
be as simple as a shoe box filled with toys you have made. It will
help ease those first difficult moments and many more besides.
Here's how you can make your Super Sitter's Surprise Box:
A variety of colors of "sticky-back" tape and a medium sized box with
a lid or an old overnight case are all you need. Cut the tape into
strips, squares, triangles and circles and tape them on to the box
or case. Besides being attractive and eye-catching, the shapes can
be educational. Fill the Surprise Box with any of the "surprises"
put a surprise or two -- a book, coloring book, game, puzzle or some
item of amusement into your box for an older brother or sister.
or wooden animals with smooth edges
plastic or cloth covered books
or wooden toy cars or trucks with no small
of measuring cups
colored bandage strips to use as "puppets" on your fingers, or
on the baby's fingers.
When making your Surprise Box, remember to use only safe toys! Check
to see that they don't have any of the toy dangers. Make your Super
Sitter's Surprise Box a safe surprise!
Some of your daytime
sitting may include playing outdoors with the children. Outdoor play
equipment -- swings, seesaws and slides -- can be fun, but can be
dangerous too. Play safety can be taught to even the youngest toddlers.
Children often do the unexpected on playground equipment. They are
naturally and normally curious and adventuresome. Standing in a swing
is "bigger and better" than sitting in one. Climbing to the top, sitting
or swinging on it shows great daring. Little ones are unaware of risk
... often jumping off or in front of swings, seesaws or gliders. They
may walk in front or in back of a moving swing. In an atmosphere of
"the more the merrier," they may overload any one piece of equipment
and tip the entire structure. Hanging "rings" are particularly dangerous
to small children whose heads may be small enough to go through the
ring, turning it into a hanging "noose."
All children should be supervised when playing on this kind of equipment.
They should be told to sit in the center of a swing. Explain the following
hazards: walking in front or in back of a swing; pushing other children
off of the swing; swinging empty seats; twisting the swing chains;
and, climbing up the front of the slide. Roughhousing, overloading
equipment and misuse can be curbed from the start if you're there
supervising their play.
Older children can be taught certain safety rules and why they are
important. Asking them to assist you in supervising the younger ones
will help them to understand these rules better. Dangerous roughhousing,
stunts, overloading, abuse and misuse of equipment and showing off
can also include time in or around a swimming pool, wading pool or
spa. Children are naturally attracted to water, therefore, a "super
sitter" must take precautions at all times to prevent accidents from
happening. Drowning is the third leading cause of accidental death
nationwide to children under five years of age. In addition, some
3,000 youngsters in the same age group are treated each year in hospital
emergency rooms as a result of near-drownings; some of these children
are hospitalized for life as a result of near-drowning.
Drowning is a silent killer. When a child drowns, a baby sitter won't
hear a cry or even a splash. Drownings can happen very quickly.
How do children drown? How can you prevent a tragedy from happening?
count. In seconds, a child can leave the house and walk to the
edge of the pool. In seconds, a child can drown in only a few
inches of water. A child can drown in the few seconds taken to
answer a telephone in the house.
on the child at all times is your best bet. There is no substitute
for constant supervision of the child.
should be supervised and accompanied at all times, even though
the parents previously instructed the children not to go near
sure gates leading to the pool are closed and locked. Lock all
doors leading from the house to the pool area. Locks should always
be out of reach of children.
consider a child to be water-safe even if the youngster has had
swimming lessons or water-familiarity class.
assume a pool to be safe, even one with a pool cover or a fence.
allow children to play on the apron surrounding the pool.
the pool is above-ground, remove the ladder to prevent access
how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on infants
and young children. Contact your local chapter of the American
Heart Association or American Red Cross about registering for
for any reason you discover the child to be missing, check the
pool, wading pool, spa or hot tub first.
the telephone numbers to call for emergency medical service. In
some locations you dial 911, in others a seven-digit number. As
a "super sitter" you can teach the children that safe play can
still be fun play!
FOOD FOR THOUGHT ONLY!
WHAT YOU SHOULD
KNOW ABOUT IT...
Not everything that goes into a child's mouth falls into the category
of food. Too often, what ends up in mouths and stomachs may be deadly!
Growing children are curious about things that glitter and shine,
pretty colored pills, bottles and containers of all kinds, and what's
in them. Children under the age of five are in stages of growth where
they are constantly exploring and investigating. This is how they
learn. Unfortunately, what children see and reach for, they put into
their mouths and swallow.
Every year thousands of youngsters across the country receive emergency
hospital or doctor's care because of accidental poisoning. These are
chiefly children under five who have ingested some common household
item which suddenly becomes poison in the wrong hands (and mouths).
These include medicines, cleaning products and preparations, insect
sprays, lighter fluid and kerosene, turpentine and paints.
You can help prevent accidental poisonings, while baby sitting and
in your own home too. Here are some things you should remember:
household products and medicines should be stored out of sight and
reach of young children -- preferably locked up! (If you are sitting
where household cleaning agents are stored under the sink and you
are in charge of a "crawler" -- or the medicine cabinet is accessible
to a "climber" -- you can put protective tape across the front of
the cabinet as an extra precaution.)
a baby sitter you should not be expected to give any medication.
But in certain circumstances, you may be asked to give a medication
during the time the parents are away. If it is absolutely necessary
that you do this, have the parents leave explicit, written instructions
GENERAL POINTS TO REMEMBER ABOUT MEDICATIONS ARE:
1. Read the label
on the container carefully as well as the instructions from the parents.
2. Never leave the child alone with the medication. If the phone rings
take the medication with you.
3. Return the medication to its safe storage place with the safety
closure on securely.
4. Do not call the medication candy.
5. Do not give the medication in the dark.
6. Do not take any medication yourself in the presence of the child.
7. Be careful of what you might be bringing into the house.
Children are normally curious and can get into a pocketbook, briefcase
or overnight case of a guest which could contain medications. An otherwise
"poison-proof" household can become the scene of an accidental poisoning
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW TO DO...
IF THERE IS A POISONING ACCIDENT:
1. DON'T WAIT
to see what effect it may have. If you think the child has swallowed
medicine or a household product, call a Poison Control Center, doctor,
or hospital IMMEDIATELY! (These should be emergency numbers on your
list.) Describe what was taken and how much, giving as much information
as you can. Describe the condition of the child -- vomiting, drowsiness,
change of color, coldness of skin. In the event no medical instructions
are available, check the label on the container for emergency procedures
and directions, if any. DO NOT INDUCE VOMITING UNLESS INSTRUCTED BY
MEDICAL PERSONNEL OR THE LABEL GIVES SUCH INSTRUCTIONS. IF INSTRUCTED
TO INDUCE VOMITTING, GIVE SYRUP OF IPECAC. (NOTE: PARENTS SHOULD KEEP
ON HAND A ONE-OUNCE BOTTLE OF SYRUP OF IPECAC FOR EACH CHILD IN THE
2. Call in a neighbor who can help you take care of this emergency;
get the child medical aid, or help take care of other children in
the family. At this point, don't try to take on all of the care and
3. Call the parents. Explain what has happened, what has already been
done and what is yet to be done. If the child is to be taken to a
hospital or doctor's office, it may be more expedient to get the child
there and have the parents go there immediately rather than come home
first. Speed, of course, is important. But equally important is the
way you handle the situation. Try to keep control. A frightened and
sick child will become more frightened if you are excited or show
panic. Accidental poisoning is a frightening experience, but if you
know preventive measures, you will be able to handle the situation
when it happens. (Tell the parents about child resistant safety packaging
which can help prevent these kinds of accidents.)
Before you realize
it, the parents have arrived to find you and their children safe and
sound, and to see you home safely. During your first sitting experience,
you may have been nervous, but with each new one, you will gain confidence,
especially if you remember the Super Sitter Tips we have discussed.
Here is a summary of those tips which you should keep foremost in
your mind until you are confident that you know them:
what to do in emergencies by being prepared for one, knowing what
could happen and how to react to it. Take first aid instructions.
know where the emergency exits are located.
doors and windows locked for the safety of both yourself and the
where the "danger" items are -- medicines, bleaches, household
cleaners and electrical appliances. Keep them out of children's
reach if the parents have not locked them away in a secure place.
case of accident or illness, don't try to be a doctor or nurse
except for minor cuts and bruises.
your emergency telephone list handy -- use these numbers when
you need them.
on the parents or a neighbor in any emergency situation that you
are not sure how to handle yourself.
play accidents by keeping the youngsters safe -- supervise where
they play, what they play with and teach them safe play. Keep
these safety tips in mind ... they will make your baby sitting
experience both safe and fun for you and the children. They will
make you a SUPER SAFE SITTER.
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission