Understanding Baby's Cues: How Babysitters Can Respond to Your Baby's Needs

By Ashley Paskill on March 30, 2024

Babysitters are generally knowledgeable about taking care of babies and children. However, when a baby is trying to communicate their needs, often in the form of crying, it can be difficult for a babysitter to know exactly what to do. This is especially true in the heat of the moment when the babysitter is becoming overwhelmed. Knowing your own baby’s needs and cues can help inform your babysitter of how to best care for your infant.

Child development

Your babysitter should have a basic knowledge of child development. This will help them know your baby’s basic needs and how to properly respond. A baby is unable to care for themselves the way that older kids can, and knowing the basic skill milestones can help your babysitter appreciate how much care your baby needs. Even knowing whether or not an infant can sit up on their own is crucial for your child’s safety.

CPR and First Aid

In general, a good babysitter will be certified in CPR and first aid. This training should include helping infants as well as older children and even adults. Infants are unable to communicate what exactly is wrong, so if they are having an emergency, they need a caregiver who can at least be calm enough to call for assistance and can give aid until further help comes. Your babysitter must be able to recognize the signs of a true emergency or symptoms that can be treated at home.

Diaper changes

Infants are not potty trained so they need diaper changes. It is key that your babysitter knows how to do this, and if they don’t, teach them before you leave your baby with them. Show them where you keep the needed materials. Even if your babysitter knows how to change diapers, if your child has specific needs, you must discuss these with your babysitter ahead of time. Be sure to let your babysitter know if your infant has a diaper rash and what to look for in case one develops.


Infants have different eating patterns and food than older children and adults. Some infants are breastfed while others eat formula. Babysitters need to know what your infant can eat and how much to feed them. Let them know where the supplies are. If possible, you may even decide to prepare food for your infant ahead of your being away. As with children of any age, your babysitter must know of any allergies or sensitivities to the food or formula and what to look for should symptoms of these arise.

Leave medical information

Whether your infant has a long-term medical condition, allergy, or a minor illness, your babysitter should know about your infant’s medical needs. This way, they know what symptoms are being treated and what symptoms may need immediate attention. Also, if your infant requires medication, leave instructions so that your babysitter knows what medicine to give, when to give, and how much to give. If possible, you may even want to give your baby their medicine before the babysitter comes.


Your baby will inevitably be tired when your babysitter is watching them, especially if it is nighttime when your babysitter is watching them. Let your babysitter know about your infant’s bedtime routine and any special things they need before they sleep. Be sure the babysitter knows the proper way of placing your baby in the crib so that your baby is safe. Tell them how they can tell if your baby is just tired or if there is something more that may be wrong.

Image: Alicia via https://www.pexels.com/photo/baby-in-blue-blanket-971435/

Enlist older siblings

If you have older children that your babysitter will also be watching, they may be able to assist with what the baby needs. This is especially helpful if the baby is crying and the babysitter has exhausted all of their options. Older siblings know what the baby likes and dislikes and can aid in the normal routine. It is possible that the baby is just nervous about being away from familiar faces and being with a new face, having the older sibling(s) around will help calm them down.

Keep communication open

As with kids of any age, be sure you have your phone with you or let your babysitter know of an alternative way of reaching you should they have questions or if they are unable to calm your baby down. If you truly will be unreachable, leave contact information for neighbors and other nearby family members who are familiar with your infant and may be able to assist with calming them down. Even just knowing that help is available if needed can give your babysitter confidence.

Infants have unique needs that older children do not have. They are only able to cry to communicate, so your babysitter must know how to meet your infant’s needs to help calm them down.

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