Babysitting a Newborn for the First Time? These 12 Tips Are For You!
Advice for Caregivers

Babysitting a Newborn for the First Time? These 12 Tips Are For You!

by Martha Scully

Babysitting a newborn can be a stressful experience, especially if it is something you have no or very little experience with. Newborns are fragile, temperamental and require constant care and attention. Therefore, you need to know as much about them as possible to be prepared to handle any situation.

Here are 12 tips to help you with your next newborn babysitting job.

Start as a Mother’s Helper

A mother’s helper is basically a babysitter in training. As opposed to a sitter or nanny who handles child care while parents are away mother’s helper assist the family while they are still home.

Every child is unique. This is why it’s always best to have a few hours with the infant when the parent is present. This gives you the opportunity to ask questions, observe, and see how mom interacts with the baby.

Get Educated

Whether you are a grandparent, a sibling, a family friend, or a hired caregiver, it is important to know the necessary safety information for how to care for a newborn. Most cities will offer infant CPR classes, as well as basic caregiving classes if you are unfamiliar with things such as how to bathe a newborn or change a diaper.

If you are going to be working as a sitter for hire, it is more important than ever to ensure you have the necessary infant and first aid certifications.

Get All the Emergency Information

Before the parents leave, make sure that you know and understand all of the necessary emergency information:

  • Parents full information
  • Address
  • Emergency numbers
  • Childs full name
  • Insurance medical info
  • Nearest hospital
  • Parent’s email address

To download a babysitter emergency information sheet visit our Nanny and Babysitter Ressource Page

Keep this info in the kitchen on a fridge or a noticeable location While you will hopefully not need to use any of this information, it is important to know it all, as in an emergency you will not want to worry about trying to get a hold of the parents to find out.

Get Feeding Information

Is the child breast or bottle fed? Sometimes newborns that are breastfed have difficulty taking anything from a bottle. Before you care for the infant for the first time ensure that bottle feeding is possible.

Also, ask about how to heat up the bottle - bottle warmer or microwave. To avoid burning the baby’s mouth always test the warmth of the milk. Find out from the parents the best way to burp.

You should also ask about their feeding schedule, as you may need to feed them more than once. Are there any cues that the child shows that indicate they are hungry? Or do the parents feed them at set intervals (every two hours, etc.)?

Try Everything to Comfort Them

Newborns usually cry when they want something. Is there diaper soiled, are they hungry, or do they want a soother? Are they cold or too hot? Is there noise or light that is bothering them? Or do they just want to be held? Try everything!

Naps are Vital

Newborns need a lot of sleep and will need to take many naps throughout the day. Try not to over-stimulate the baby before a nap. This can make it more challenging to get them to go down. When putting them in the crib, make sure the baby is on their back, and there are no small objects are in the crib. If they are on a sleep schedule, try to stick to the routine.

Watch out for Pets

Pets are often curious and sometimes jealous of a newborn. Make sure pets cannot enter the bedroom while a newborn is sleeping. Make sure a pet is not at your feet while you are walking with a baby and keep a close eye on them to ensure they are not up to something sneaky while you are preoccupied with the baby.

Activities and Engagement

Newborns love everything to do with voices- talking, singing, babbling and gentle cooing. Newborns also respond well to music. Some like gentle music and some like a bit stronger beat. Another thing newborns love are mobiles and rattles.

Keep in mind that newborn infants can be sensitive and startle with bright light and sudden or loud sounds. Remember the advice we gave about naps— don’t provide too much stimulation before nap time.

Make Sure You’re Healthy

For the first few months of their lives, newborns immune systems have yet to mature. This is partially due to the fact that they have not yet been vaccinated to help their bodies fight off disease. Their bodies are also using a large amount of their energy to grow and develop their immune system.

During this time, they are very susceptible to illness, and even something as simple as the common cold can cause a newborn to become quite ill. If you are going to be caring for a newborn, make sure that you are in good health. Remember that you are most contagious a few days before you are actually fully ill, so even slight symptoms should be noted.

Be an Extra Pair of Hand

Parents of newborns are often tired and stressed. It is a wonderful gesture for you as a babysitter to do a few extra things while the baby is sleep. Even simple things such as doing dishes, folding laundry, and cleaning up toys, can be a great help to parents.

Communication is Key

When things are not going well, it is a good idea to text mom and let her know that the baby is not happy, sick, or just does not seem to be themselves. Informing the parents during the day provides them with the opportunity to provide suggestions to you or come home early.

Even when things are going well, it can be stressful for parents to leave their newborns. Providing them with how the day went sometimes is enough to ease their minds and appreciate that you are an experienced babysitter that knows how to care for their child.

Don’t Take it Personally

For many parents, leaving their newborn alone with a sitter for the first time is a very nerve-wracking experience. It’s scary and overwhelming for them, regardless of how they feel about you. In fact, they may call several times to check in on you. Try to remember that they have chosen you to watch their child for a good reason, and their checking in has nothing to do with you personally or your abilities as a caregiver. It has everything to do with their concerns for their child.


Babysitting newborns can be a lot of fun, and a very enjoyable experience (who doesn’t love that new baby smell?!) but it can also be nerve-wracking and stressful if you are unsure of what to do. Hopefully, these tips and suggestions will help you to feel more confident when you are caring for a newborn.

See more posts like this: Advice for Caregivers

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About the Author
Martha Scully
Martha is the founder of Martha has been featured as a Child Care Expert in hundreds of publications across Canada including The Globe and Mail, CBC, Today's Parent and The National Post, She lives in British Columbia with her husband and two daughters.