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How to Handle a Sick Child While Babysitting

Amanda has worked in a daycare setting in various roles for over 11 years and has educated parents on child-raising strategies and tips!

Taking care of a sick child can be challenging. Follow these tips for caring for a sick child while babysitting.

Taking care of a sick child can be challenging. Follow these tips for caring for a sick child while babysitting.

What to Do If a Child You Are Babysitting Gets Sick

If you are a babysitter, taking care of a sick child is something that you have probably worried about. It's hard enough when everyone knows the child is sick, but especially challenging if the symptoms develop while you are babysitting.

Taking care of a sick child can be challenging and difficult: It's never easy. The first thing to do is to stay calm and read these tips.

1. Text or Call the Parents

As a babysitter, you obviously don't want to call the parents without a very good reason. They are paying good money for a little break, after all, and you want to show them that you can handle the job. But everything changes when the child develops symptoms.

If the child suddenly falls ill while the parents are out, especially if the child develops a fever, contact the parents right away. They will need to know if their child has a fever, even if it interrupts their time away. Taking care of the child may be your job, but their child is their life. They won't think you are a bad babysitter if you call them. In fact, they will appreciate your responsibilty.

When you call or text, you want to be as descriptive as possible. Take the temperature first, itemize all the child's symptoms, and ask if there is anything they want you to do.

Should you ask the parents to come home?

Let the parents know if you are comfortable babysitting their child when they are sick. It is okay to say that you aren't comfortable. Most of the time, though, if their child is sick, they will come home.

2. Keep the Child Comfortable

If the child has a fever, the most important thing to do is keep the fever down.

What to do if a child has a fever:

  • Put them in bed all wrapped up under blankets and put a damp cloth over their forehead.
  • Give them some water or juice to drink.
  • Make sure the child is feeling safe. When a child is uncomfortable, especially when their parents aren't around, they probably won't feel safe. This is normal. I know when I'm sick, all I want is for someone familiar to take care of me. But do your best to comfort and reassure the child.
  • If advised by the parents, give them medicine. Do not give the child medicine unless you have received instructions from the parents.
  • Read to them or set up a movie for them.
  • Above all, let them rest. If they are sick, they will need that rest.

How high is the fever?

  • It may be time to call the doctor if a child has a temperature of 104F or higher.
  • If it's an infant under 3 months old, a temperature of 100.4 F or higher is cause for concern.

3. Keep Yourself Healthy

Above all else, you must keep yourself healthy while you are babysitting. Sometimes, you can't help but do some unmentionable things. Clean up any mess they might make immediately. If you have access to them, use gloves if you are afraid of getting sick. Wash your hands often. For the next few days, you should take Vitamin C to help fight off any bug you may be exposed to.

Just be sure to be kind and gentle with the child. Remember, they are in more pain and discomfort than you.

What If the Child I'm Babysitting Has COVID?

Before you agree to babysit for a child who has COVID-19, you need to evaluate if you are willing to put yourself and the people close to you at risk. It might also happen that the child you are babysitting develops symptoms of COVID-19 while you are on the watch. Both of these situations will require extra care.

According to the CDC, if you are in contact with someone who has COVID, you should quarantine for 14 days starting the last day you had contact with them.

What if the test is negative?

If you are exposed to a child who has COVID, you should make sure you stay away from people until you are completely sure you don't have it. Getting a test is a good idea, but not all the tests are reliable, and doctors may suggest you quarantine anyway.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2013 Amanda Brumbelow