Babysitting for toddlers (children 1 to 2 years old) can be exhausting! Toddlers have short attention spans and can go from happy to sad to angry in a matter of minutes. They also are learning to use words and can be hard to understand. When toddlers struggle to communicate with you, they can become easily frustrated and engage in challenging behavior.
You need to take a babysitting safety course such as Safe Sitter® in order to be prepared for the behavior challenges a toddler may present. When you are offered a babysitting job for a toddler, you should understand the care required; this will help you decide if you should accept the job.
There are eight things you must know about toddlers to help you decide if you are ready for the responsibility of babysitting a toddler.
- Toddlers are mobile. As children enter the toddler years, they have already mastered crawling and are learning to walk. You need to be prepared to carry the toddler as well as guide the toddler when walking. Toddlers fall easily and usually get back up without help. If you are babysitting in a house with stairs, you need to help the child go up and down the stairs.
- Toddlers cannot recognize danger. Toddlers are too young to remember and follow the rules. They don’t know to keep their hands off breakables and require constant watching. Toddlers are curious and put everything in their mouths. Keep anything that could be harmful to a toddler out of sight and out of reach.
- Toddlers speak in single words and simple sentences. Toddlers are better at understanding the words you say to them than producing them. Toddlers are learning to combine words in 2-3 word sentences such as “Me do it” and are learning to use words like “please” and “thank you.”
- Toddlers require patience on your part. Toddlers are learning how to behave around others and may refuse to share, throw temper tantrums, or act out by biting or hitting. They may cry when their parent leaves and repeat the word “No” when you ask them to do something. Learn more about how to handle toddler temper tantrums.
- Toddlers may be potty training. Always help a toddler with toileting and never leave a toddler alone in a bathroom. If the child has a potty training accident, clean the child and change the child’s clothes if needed.
- Toddlers often wake up after being put to bed. Following the child’s bedtime routine can help prevent this, but when it happens you need to go to the child’s room and talk to the child. Tell the child that it’s time for sleeping, not playing. If the child cries for their parent, remind the child that they will be coming home and then comfort the child by singing or telling a short, happy story.
- Toddlers need to be fed and are messy eaters. Always secure the child in a high chair when feeding and help the child wash hands prior to eating. Only feed a toddler food provided by their parent. Smooth, round foods such as hot dogs or grapes need to be cut into small pieces to avoid choking.
- Toddlers enjoy frequent activity changes. Toddlers are constantly on the move and like infants, they have short attention spans. Toddlers will often attempt to do more than they can which leads to frustration with crying, temper tantrums, and even biting. Toddlers enjoy action toys they push or pull and games like Hide-and-Seek. Get more ideas on entertaining toddlers.
Toddlers need constant protection and require a babysitter that is patient, comforting, and will never let the child out of her sight. When babysitting for a toddler for the first time, schedule 30 minutes with the employer to discuss what you need to know to take care of the child and learn the rules of the house.