As much as we want the babysitter to make the kids happy and keep them fed, that's not really why she's there.
The babysitter is there to call 911 at the appropriate moment and to make sure the kids don't kill each other (no small feat at my house).
When your kids are in trouble and you're out of the house, your babysitter is the only lifeline they'll have. Before you leave your kids with her, you need to make sure she has the training -- and the guts -- to get your kids through any real emergency they might have.
Follow the links below and print out each article. Put them together as a reference for your babysitter.
It Has to be OK to Call 911
The last thing your babysitter wants to do is screw up this babysitting gig. She doesn't want to raise a ruckus or look like she's overreacting. Depending on how she was raised, calling 911 might not even be in her playbook. This is one reason you want her to take a babysitting class.
You must let her know that 911 is a resource for her. Tell your babysitter it's OK to call 911 if she thinks it's an emergency -- or even if she's not sure. The younger she is, the more intimidated she's likely to be. Tell her you expect action, and overreacting is better than under-reacting.
She Needs to Know CPR
Any good babysitter needs to be ready for the worst case scenario. There isn't a case worse than a baby not breathing. You want your babysitter to know what to do and not to be afraid to do it.
The links below provide good reminders for her, but they're not substitutes for proper training.
Responding to Choking
If she's going to feed them, she needs to know what to do when they choke on dinner. Your babysitter cannot hesitate if your kid is choking. Print these out and show them to her. If she has a blank look on her face, you need to send her back to training -- or get a new babysitter.
She Needs Information to Tell the Paramedics
The babysitter will be the only person available to communicate with first responders. It's important that she has the kids' important medical information. Write it all down and keep it in a convenient location for her to give to the paramedics.
Not Every Emergency is Medical
Medical emergencies aren't the only kinds of catastrophes a babysitter must be ready for. Fires happen. Make sure your babysitter has all the information she needs to get the kids out safely. I don't recommend having her use a fire extinguisher -- it's just one more decision that might slow her down. She needs to react quickly to a fire and get everyone out. Then, she must call 911.
She Should Also Know How to Handle the Little Things
If you want your babysitter to react correctly to the big stuff, make sure she knows how to handle the little stuff. If she can put on a bandage and take out a splinter, she can take care of the little things for a few minutes -- at least until you can be contacted.
Your Babysitter Needs Training
Don't count on your babysitter to do any of these things without taking a real class. All these tips should be nothing more than review for your fully trained babysitter. If you have someone in mind that really gets along great with your babies, send her to school.