Any seasoned babysitter will tell you how important it is to come prepared to your caregiving jobs. You can count on your charge’s parents to have some of the essential items you’ll need, like a list of emergency numbers, a first-aid kit, and a disaster evacuation plan, but there’s one you shouldn’t count on being provided: activities that will keep the kids occupied while you’re there.
Sure, every household with children is loaded with toys and games, but many kids want something new and exciting to do when their parents are away, even if only for the night. As their sitter, you should bring a few age-appropriate options that will keep them engaged and excited. Not only will showing up with fun activities make your job easier, it will also ensure you’re the go-to sitter for each family you visit.
If you aren’t sure what to bring, we’ve got you covered. We’ve put together a list of the best toys and games every babysitter should have. Best of all, every item is budget-friendly, portable, hygienic, and safe for all ages. While you don’t need to buy every activity on this list to keep your babysitting kids happy, try to choose a mix that will please every age group so you’ll be prepared no matter who you’re caring for.
Jenga is a great game for just about any age. There are no small parts or choking hazards, the rules are simple, and since it’s not a competition, it won’t lead to fights between siblings.
Large puzzles made of brightly-colored soft materials, like the BalanceFrom Kid’s Puzzle Exercise Play Mat, are great for little ones. For bigger kids who like a (not-too-tough) challenge, bring along a few age-appropriate options that you can work on together, like these four-packs of wooden puzzles. If you bring a traditional cardboard puzzle with a lot of pieces, put it together on the Becko Puzzle Roll Jigsaw Storage Felt Mat — if you don’t finish it, you can roll it up and bring it back the next time you sit.
The Aqua Magic Doodle Mat is a mess-free way for artistic children to express themselves. All you need is a little water to unleash their creativity.
Drawing on plain white paper is fun, but using scratch paper that reveals a rainbow of colors beneath the surface is downright magical. Children of all ages — even teenagers! — will love doodling on this paper.
Whether you use this gadget to craft a bracelet, anklet, or keychain, kids will love making a keepsake craft to show off to their parents when they return home.
You don’t have to be a nail pro to give the kids a manicure that will make them feel like they’re at the salon. Use this fun kit to paint each other’s nails and add fun stamps to your tips.
Nothing beats a day outside — except a day of drawing in the sunshine! Jumbo sidewalk chalk will provide hours of fun, and since it’s washable, you don’t have to feel guilty if the kids get a little colorful themselves.
It’s easy to whip up soapy water for making bubbles, and you can amp up the fun by using bubble wands to create a little magic.
This classic game got a modern makeover with a musical, smiley-faced stuffed toy that will make everyone want to join in on the fun.
Classic Board Games
It’s hard to top the classics that you grew up with. Most kid-friendly households will have at least a few tried-and-true family games on hand, but if they don’t, these are sure to be a hit:
Once you find a babysitter job online or through a referral, you’ll need to make a great impression in order to be invited back over and over. Keeping a few of these fun-filled activities in tow will help you and the kids have a great time — and make you the only sitter they call!