Babysitting is one of the most popular jobs for teenagers. There is no legal age for when a teenager may start babysitting, and parents are probably the best judge of whether their child is ready and responsible enough.
How to find babysitting work for teenagers
Having a connection with the family that requires babysitting is the best scenario. A family friend, ‘friend of a friend’ or someone associated with your school, church or community group for example, is a safer connection than a stranger. Here are some other ideas.
- Ask friends to recommend you if they are unable to take a babysitting job.
- Ask to display an ad at daycare or out of school hours (OOSH) centres.
- Post an ad on community noticeboards at your local shopping centre.
- Advertise on Gumtree.
- Some schools that have Kindergarten through to senior years have a babysitting register for older students to offer their services.
In the case of advertising to strangers, be careful to vet replies and parents should be involved in meeting employers for the first time.
What if my teenager doesn’t have experience?
Babysitting rates for teenagers
What a teenager will get paid to babysit will depend on what the parents are happy to pay and the going rate for their age and experience. If unsure, ask friends what they get paid. According to our readers’ discussion on the forum, teenagers can expect on average around $10/hour for babysitting.
The following babysitting tips are from an excellent guide put together by the NSW Commission for Children and Young People. Encourage your teenager to read it to help make their experience safe and successful.
Before your babysitting job
- Get all the information you need from the parents, including their address, contact phone numbers, how many children you’ll be babysitting, the children’s names and ages and any allergies or medical conditions they have.
- Agree on the hours you will be working, your babysitting rate and exactly what is expected of you. If you aren’t sure about a fair rate of pay, check with friends who do babysitting, or ask your parents for advice.
- Ask to meet the parents and children face to face before you start so you can all get to know each other and feel comfortable.
- Learn basic first aid. You could do a first aid course with St John Ambulance or Red Cross. St John Ambulance provides a one-day ‘Caring for Kids’ first aid course, minimum age for participants is 14.
- Learn the emergency phone numbers. The emergency fire, police and ambulance number is 000 and the poisons information number is 13 11 26.
- Prepare some activities for the children. Make sure these are safe, suitable for the weather, and things you can do together.
- Let your parents know where you will be and what time they should expect you home or come to pick you up.
The Babysitting Checklist, also published by the NSW Commission for Children and Young People, sets out all the details you should have before the parents leave home.
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What to do at the babysitting job
- When you arrive at the parents’ house for the first time ask them to show you around so you know where everything is. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – the more you know the better you can do the job.
- Before the parents leave make sure you feel comfortable with the house rules, their approach to discipline and any expectations they have of you. If you’re not sure about anything, ask! The Babysitting Checklist can help.
- When babysitting, don’t leave children alone. Watch out for hazards around the home such as unclosed gates, toys left on stairs, appliances left on or small objects kids could choke on left in reach. Never just assume they will be ok.
- Keep to the house rules. Don’t invite friends over and don’t use the phone or internet for long periods unless the parents have told you it’s okay.
- It’s also important to respect family differences and understand that other families may have different ways of doing things.
- Clean up. Try to leave the house as you found it.
- Try to stay calm if there’s an emergency. Call for help and follow the advice you receive from emergency services.
- When the parents return, talk to them about any problems you’ve had. It’s better to be upfront about problems, rather than have the parents find out later.
- When you get home tell your parents if anything happened that made you feel uncomfortable or worried while you were babysitting. You can also call the Kids Help Line on 1800 55 1800 to talk about any concerns you have.
The NSW Commission for Children and Young People’s Babysitting Guide also has also links to other important information relating to young children including: diet, health and allergies; how to change a nappy and how to settle a baby; rules for crossing roads, playing near car parks or busy streets; and road, sun and water safety.
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(First published 9 Sep 2011; Updated 17 Oct 2013)
What other tips or advice can you add for teenagers who wish to start babysitting?