Every great babysitter has what is arguably the number-one qualification of any child caregiver: a love of kids. But what else do you need to provide little ones the safe and supportive environment they need while under your supervision? Do you need a certification or to take a course to become a babysitter?
The short answer is no. While it’s common for daycare providers and nannies to need certifications to provide care, there aren’t any laws requiring babysitters to get licenses or take classes to work with children, and sites like Care.com, SitterCity, and UrbanSitter.com don’t require any type of certification to be a caregiver on their site.
However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the classes and obtain the certifications that will make you a more knowledgeable care provider. Parents who are trying to find a babysitter online may feel more confident working with someone who has taken the time to receive specialized childcare training, especially those with infants or special needs children, so obtaining certain certifications can help you score more babysitting jobs.
Which certifications and courses should I take to become a babysitter?
There is no shortage of training you can receive to become a babysitter. For example, taking early childhood development classes will help sitters learn how to better understand children’s behavior and the best ways to react to it, while becoming a certified nanny opens sitters up to caregiving jobs with families looking for long-term help.
However, you can become a more well-rounded babysitter without spending months in a classroom or making a huge financial investment. To establish yourself as the most qualified sitter for families in search of care, consider taking these certifications and courses to become a babysitter.
First aid and CPR. Knowing the basics of how to clean small wounds is important for preventing infection, while knowing how to perform CPR can literally save a life. Classes that go over these basics will also help you identify what you can take care of on your own and what requires emergency care from a physician. The American Red Cross offers a Babysitting & Child Care Certification course in most major cities, and in addition to first aid and CPR, it provides information on topics like child-friendly activities by age, how to build your business, and appropriate discipline, depending on the class you sign up for.
The Heimlich maneuver. Often taught in first-aid and CPR courses, knowing the Heimlich maneuver can prevent a scary situation from becoming a tragedy. There are countless online tutorials on how to perform it, but those shouldn’t be your source of information. Instead, seek a safety class that demonstrates it in person and allows you to practice on child-sized dummies.
Infant care. Newborns and children under a year have unique care needs. Even if you’ve spent a lot of time with babies, taking a class that covers topics like feeding, burping, changing diapers, swaddling, CPR, and the Heimlich maneuver will ease anxious parents’ minds about leaving their precious little one for an evening.
Special needs care. Children with special needs, including those with autism, ADHD, or a physical disability, may behave physically or emotionally differently than some of the other children sitters work with. Learning how to best meet their needs is an important way in giving them an experience that makes them feel like a champion, not a burden, which can quickly help you become their favorite sitter. Your local children’s hospital or Easterseals chapter may offer classes.
Water safety. If you live in an area where kids like to have fun in the sun at the pool or beach during any part of the year, becoming a certified lifeguard will give you the tools you need to protect the kids in your care from harm. The American Red Cross and many YMCA centers offer classes on drowning prevention.
A driver’s license. If you don’t already have one, get a driver’s license if you’re legally and physically able to. Even if you don’t plan to shuttle your babysitting charges around, parents want to know their caregiver has a reliable mode of transportation to get to jobs on time.
It’s possible and perfectly legal to become a babysitter without taking any courses or earning any certifications. However, taking a few core classes will broaden your skills and boost your trustworthiness to new and existing clients, which will in turn help you book as many jobs as possible.