Have you landed your first babysitting gig but don't have any babysitting games to fall back on? We have a list of games you can play with the kids you are sitting, no matter what their age!
Babies and Toddlers
Babysitting babies and toddlers can be very challenging, even for the most seasoned veteran of the babysitting trade. Babies can be entertained by making faces that are friendly at them or by using baby-safe cloth puppets that they can focus on and laugh at. Babies also love to be held and rocked, so put on some quiet music and find a nice rocker to rock in. The baby will be happily cooing or sleeping in no time.
Toddlers require a little more in terms of interaction, so you'll have to be a little more creative to keep their attention. Toddlers love toys they can grab easily, like large blocks, plastic donut circles, child-safe stuffed plush animals and most any other toy their parents have provided for you to use. The best babysitters get down on the floor and play with toddlers; being on their level literally is the best way to entertain them. These kids love to play peek-a-boo, easy versions of hide and seek (try hiding their stuffed animals in easy to find places), playing with puppets and child musical instruments (which can consist of pots and pans too).
A word of caution: be careful of what children in this age group put in their mouths. One way to make sure a toy can't be swallowed is to see if it fits in a paper towel or toilet paper tube. If it fits, put it out of reach because it can be choked on. In addition, never give children this age balloons or plastic bags as they pose a choking and suffocation hazard.
Babysitting Games for School Age Children
Babysitting children that are in school is a little easier, but you don't want to be known as the babysitter that just sits and watches television. Babysitting is an interactive job and many parents expect you to spend time with the kids, not just sit on the couch or talk on the phone the whole time.
Young children love board games, and odds are their parents have a few in the house. Ask the kids where the games are and be prepared to mediate any disputes that may arise while playing. Avoid babysitting games that take too long to play like the grown-up version of Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit or Life. Instead opt for quick games like card games (Old Maid, Sevens, Hearts), Trouble, Candyland, Chutes and Ladders or Monopoly Junior.
If the children you are babysitting can go outdoors, there are plenty of games you can play in a yard such as kickball, Frisbee, basketball or soccer. Be sure to ask the parents whether or not the children you are watching can go outside when you are caring for them.
Babysitting Games for Older Kids
Older kids really don't want to play babysitting games with you; in fact, often they'd be perfectly happy if you would vanish. Unfortunately for them, you were hired by their parents to make sure that no harm comes to them in their absence. How do you entertain older kids who hate the idea of a babysitter? Start by offering to play board games with them. Many parents are too busy to play games with their kids and an offer to play with them can actually be a welcome activity. Let them choose the game and don't be surprised if the game lasts until their parents come home.
If the parents have given their okay, you can also volunteer to play video games with them. Kids that don't have siblings often enjoy a babysitter that will play video games, and it can be lots of fun for you too. Make sure that the games they want to play aren't rated M for mature; run any games by their parents first to find out what is off limits.
Don't forget outdoor activities with this age group too. They love to play sports, skateboard and even take walks when they have someone to talk to. However, always clear any outdoor activities with the child's parents beforehand.
Tips for Babysitting
Here are a few helpful tips to make your babysitting experience easy on you, and the parents you are working for:
- Always ask the parents before they leave what toys are okay for the children to play with, especially for babies and toddlers. It is your responsibility to make sure their children don't choke on toys or other items that may belong to older children in the home.
- Check to see if the children are allowed to go outside or not. Not all neighborhoods are safe, and you need to follow the parent's wishes.
- Choose games for the children to play that are age appropriate. That means making sure that the games are easy enough to play for younger children, and challenging enough for the older kids.
- Double check with parents to see which video games are okay for their kids to play. Many parents play video games too, but they don't allow their children to play ones that are rated M for mature.
- Carry a babysitting game kit. A babysitting kit has games, toys, books and coloring books that are age appropriate for the kids you are babysitting. These kits can be lifesavers when the going gets rough. Find a nice bag that can be zippered shut and kept out of sight, just in case the kids get bored.