Here's what to think about before you leave your child with a childminder, babysitter, or at a friend's house for a sleepover.
When you're looking for a babysitter, talk to other local parents and get recommendations. Make sure you take up references.
Trust your instincts - if you don't feel comfortable with a babysitter, why would your child?
There's no legal minimum age for babysitters, and Children's Legal Centre recommend choosing someone over 16. Babysitters aren't required to have any qualifications of any kind, but you may feel more comfortable using someone with knowledge of first aid.
Allow time to talk to the babysitter before leaving your child. Discuss bedtime or feeding routines, and if you have older children let the babysitter know what types of TV programmes, DVDs and computer games are allowed.
Always leave a number where you can be contacted in an emergency.
Leaving your children with other parents
Many children seem to have a constant social whirl of play dates and sleepovers, and while most parents are trustworthy and will take good care of your child, it's worthwhile checking arrangements.
For your peace of mind:
- Always talk to the other parents in advance of any visit and explain any rules that you may have for your child.
- Only allow your child to stay overnight with families you know and trust.
- Tell your child he can phone you at any time.
- Teach your child he has the right to say "no" if any adult or older child tries to do something he doesn't like.
- Have some simple visiting rules, such as only watching videos that are age appropriate.
- Encourage your child to tell you everything he's done on the visit.
- If your child seems upset after a visit, ask the other parent for any explanation.
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