The Red Cross Babysitting Course

Two girls playing nurse with toys
Peter Cade/ Iconica/ Getty Images

Is your child considering a babysitting job? If so, it's important for her (or him!) to know that the job comes with some significant responsibilities.

Sure, it's fun to play with babies and small children, but she'll also be responsible for making sure the little ones are safe and properly fed. She'll also have to take charge to be sure children are washed, brushed, and in bed on time. Perhaps most importantly, your child will be the "adult" on hand should an emergency arise.

Of course, your child should always be able to count on you, her parents, for help in a crisis. But it's also a great idea for her to enroll in a babysitting class to get the training she needs. The Red Cross has provided a terrific program that is offered in many locations and is now also available online.

The Classroom-Based Red Cross Babysitting Course:

Offered in locations across the United States and elsewhere, The Red Cross's six-hour babysitting course is designed for 11 to 15-year-olds. It includes training on safety, games, maintaining discipline, feeding, and emergency situations, as well as information about how to manage a babysitting business. Participants leave with a whole set of materials including (as described on the Red Cross website):

  • Babysitter's Training Handbook- information and resources to use in class and on the job
  • Babysitter's Training Emergency Reference Guide- instructions to handle common emergencies such as bee stings and asthma attacks
  • Babysitter's Training CD-ROM- provides participants with the tools they will need to run their babysitting business, including a babysitting organizer; a printable activity booklet with games, crafts, songs, and recipes; a resume template and more.

The Online Babysitting Course

Your child can take the Babysitting Basics course online at home.

It covers the same concepts as the in-person class, using a combination of videos and multimedia scenarios. It also includes the same downloadable and printable materials provided in the in-person course. Unlike the in-person course, it takes only about four hours and can be completed at any time.

Babysitting Course Benefits

Why take a whole day to learn the skills of babysitting? Unless your child happens to be an older sibling who actively cares for younger children, chances are he knows very little about critical aspects of caring for youngsters. And while some of those skills could be described as "common sense," many actually have to be taught. For example:

  • What should you do if a child is stung by a bee?
  • When is it appropriate to call a parent versus 911?
  • What should you do if a child decides not to obey you?
  • What questions should you be sure to ask parents before they leave you alone?

The Red Cross is a well-established organization with many years of experiencing in preparing children and adults to stay safe, even in unsafe situations. After taking the class, your child will be better prepared to manage the complicated experience of standing in for parents. Perhaps just as importantly, when your child advertises her babysitting services, she'll be able to include that she's taken a babysitting course, which appeals to parents.

How to Enroll in a Red Cross Babysitting Course

To enroll in an in-person babysitting course, you can contact your local American Red Cross chapter. Class dates and fees vary by location. The Red Cross website also offers more information on their babysitting course, including contact information for the local chapters. The website also makes it easy to sign up for the online course.