18 April, 2009


Baby Sitting Blues?

Sitting pretty

Sitting pretty… but is that enough?
Maybe your baby sitter is the girl next door. Or even one of your own older children. What does the law say about who you can leave your children in the care of?

Essentially the law avoids the issue if the care is for your children (whatever age) and the carer's responsibilities are mainly restricted to 'watching…in case something happens.' For baby sitting this is usually in the evening and is often stretched to reading bed time stories, cooking food, bathing and other similar things. Usually the baby sitter is left with a mobile phone number of a nearby responsible adult or the parents themselves if they are not far away. They can then call if worried.

Any 'responsible person' (in your opinion - so this can include young adults) can be given that job and paid for doing so. They are not considered to be 'nurses' or 'teachers' and do not usually work through the whole day. Some families offer 'au pair' work to young adults from other countries, usually girls, in return for food and lodging and 'pocket money.' While not "baby sitters" these people are usually unqualified as Childminders.

It is a comfort to parents to know that any baby sitter (or 'au pair') knows basic First Aid for an emergency. St John's Ambulance run courses for this round the country.

Click here to find one:

websiteWeb site: St John Ambulance

Choosing a babysitter

  • It is always best to use a babysitter you either know personally or who has been recommended to you by a friend or someone you really trust.

  • If you are not sure about someone don't use them (you'll only spend the time out of the home worrying if the sitter is okay anyway).

  • In a more formal situation get TWO people to give the sitter a good reference. This means phoning the referees up and talking to them personally.

Your child or children ought to have a say too, especially if they are nervous or worried. And if they don't like a sitter - get someone else!

Do I need a baby sitter?

Do I need a baby sitter? ... My child is usually fine at home

info More Information: Childcare - Home Alone

Professional (Registered) Childminders
These are put on a register held by Ofsted (the Education watchdog):

A Registered Childminder will have been checked by the Criminal Records Bureau, have a home (or nursery) which has been surveyed and checked for children's safety and have a formal limit put on the numbers they can mind.

The OFSTED site has lots of information on qualifications and legal matters. In Scotland HM Inspectorate of Education and the Care Commission give similar advice.

website Web site: Ofsted

website Web site: HMIE

website Web site: Care Commission

The "National Childminding Association" sets standards for Professional Childminders. Their site is here:

website Web site: National Childminding Association

An outline of ncma's declared Quality Standards (full declaration on their website)

NCMA childminders

NCMA childminders...

  • Comply with the requirements of their registration, have insurance, undertake relevant training and keep up-to-date with childminding regulations.

  • Never slap, smack, shake, bite, frighten or humiliate a child, set clear boundaries for children's behaviour and share these with parents, give positive praise and encouragement when children live up to expectations & respond to unwanted behaviour appropriately.

  • Treat each child as an individual, giving equal chances to learn and develop taking into account their age, stage of development, gender, ethnicity, home language and any disability, while encouraging children to learn about cultures different from their own.

  • Do not share information about children and families without the permission of the family & only break this rule in the interests of protecting a child, when they seek advice from appropriate professionals.

  • Provide play activities and learning experiences suitable for each child's age and stage of development, support and stimulate children's Social, Physical, Intellectual, Communication and Emotional development (SPICE), build learning into everyday activities and support what children learn at home, school and pre-school. Keeping parents informed about their child's progress.

  • Know that parents are the most important people in a child's life, recognise that parents know their own child best, show respect for each family's beliefs, traditions and wishes for the care of their children, arrange back-up cover for emergencies, review contracts with parents at least once a year and understand children's need for ongoing care with the same carer.

  • Pay careful attention to safety and hygiene, ensure a smoke-free environment while they are childminding, make detailed plans of what to do in an emergency, are aware of signs and symptoms of possible abuse and know what to do if they suspect a child is being abused, discuss children's dietary needs with parents and provide children with a healthy, balanced diet.

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