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Here's the essential information every babysitter should have:
Contact information for you and your partner
Have your sitter put your and your partner's cell phone numbers in his or her phone. If you’re a single parent, provide your sitter with the phone number of someone trusted and local who they can call if you can’t be reached. If you don't text, let your sitters know so they don’t send you messages and then wonder why you don't respond.
Emergency contact information
Post a list somewhere obvious – like on the fridge or by your landline phone, if you have one – with fire, police, doctor, poison control, and hospital numbers. (For guidelines, see our printable checklist.) If your children have specific medical insurance numbers, provide those as well.
If you're going out of town or won't be accessible, it's smart to designate one or two neighbors, friends, or relatives as local contacts. Leave their names, numbers, and addresses. That way your sitter has someone to turn to in case of minor mishaps, such as a pet that gets loose or a power outage.
Also, leave your street address (including floor and unit, if you're in an apartment) to give to fire, police, or medical personnel in an emergency.
A mapped escape route
In case of fire or some other crisis that requires hasty evacuation, your sitter should be aware of all the possible exits from your house. Also make sure she knows where to find the fire extinguisher, the first-aid kit, the circuit breaker, the water shutoff, and a flashlight.
Medical information about your baby
If your child has any allergies or other medical conditions or needs to take medication, tell your sitter about it in advance. Also spell out any additional health problems – such as a bad case of diaper rash or a tendency to spit up food.
Also, just in case you or your contact person can't be found in an emergency, leave a healthcare authorization form that allows your babysitter or childcare provider to get medical attention for your child.
Food and drink list
Don't leave this to chance. Your sitter may not be aware of foods that pose choking hazards. Leave specific instructions outlining what your baby can and can't eat and drink.
And if the sitter will be preparing formula or giving your baby expressed breast milk, explain exactly how to do it.
Your baby will feel more comfortable sticking to his usual routine, so let your sitter know what time he eats his meals, when he goes to bed, and how his bedtime routine works. (If you usually read to him from a particular book, for example, say so – and consider leaving it out where it's easy to find.)
You may want to print out our daily baby activity sheet for your sitter to fill out – that way you'll be able to see what and how much your baby ate while you were out, when she had a wet or dirty diaper, and so on.
Finally, it's wise to let your sitter know about any special words for favorite toys or security objects.