Should a Babysitter Know CPR?
It is essential for people who spend extended amounts of time with children to know basic lifesaving maneuvers such as CPR and First Aid. This includes babysitters. This could make the difference between a life and death situation. In the case of babysitting, you are the only adult in which the child depends on you to keep them safe and protected during that period of time. It is your responsibility to keep that child alive under your supervision, therefore, it is your responsibility to know basic life-saving maneuvers if it means that’s what it’ll take to keep that child alive.
Not only is it important to know basic CPR, but it’s even more important to know what to do for child or infant CPR. Because children are not all the same age or size, you need to be prepared to do either one hand, two hand, or infant CPR. Remember, infant CPR is performed on infants less than 1-year-old no matter the size of the infant. Once a child is over 1 year old, one or two hand compressions depend on the size of the child and your strength. If a child is really large and you’re relatively small, two hand compressions would be best. If a child is relatively small and you’re a lot stronger, one hand compressions would be best for that situation.
Scenarios Where You Might Have to Perform CPR
CPR should be done when a child is unconscious and either gasping or not breathing at all. There are many different scenarios that could arise while babysitting where CPR is necessary. Examples where a child might stop breathing include drowning, suffocation, choking, or an injury. We will walk through how each of these might play out while babysitting.
Drowning- If you are babysitting at the pool, keep a close eye out for how the child or children play in the pool. If the children tend to swallow a lot of water when they swim, pay close attention to them. If they swallow too much water, this could lead to flooding of the lungs and result in a loss of consciousness. You need to be prepared to do CPR in this scenario.
Suffocation- This would be a potential hazard if you’re babysitting multiple children and if there’s a large age difference between the siblings. Pay attention to how the children play with one another. If the older, stronger child play chokes the younger one, this could cause suffocation of the younger one. I would stop this kind of play before it becomes a loss of consciousness for the younger one and you have to do CPR.
Choking- I would argue this is the most common hazard while babysitting. It comes into play way more often than the other scenarios. Children love to put anything and everything in their mouths whether it’s edible or not. If you are around for feeding or snack time, make sure to chop foods into small portions, and make sure the child chews their food before they attempt to swallow the food. You can even say “chew chew chew” and model how to chew, and they should start to use their teeth more when they eat. If you’re anything like me, you love to make children laugh. Try to avoid making the child laugh while they eat because this could cause choking.
Injury- Because children are curious and are learning how to navigate their bodies through and around objects, they tend to run and fall and climb and fall. Some of these falls can be hurtful. If a child falls on a sharp object or if any of these falls cause a lack of consciousness and a lack of breathing, stop the bleed first, and CPR is the next step.
In my spare time, I enjoy babysitting for some extra cash. Thankfully, I’ve never had to perform CPR on a child, but I’ve had a couple of close calls when it comes to choking. I was babysitting a couple of children, so I had to make sure both children were fed and cared for. I made sure to cut the 16-month-old’s food into small bites, and I chose to feed him instead of facing the mess that comes along with him holding the spoon on his own. I left the spoon and food within reach, and as I turned back after filling up a cup of water, I noticed the boy taking a bite on his own. I wasn’t too concerned because I had cut the food into tiny pieces, but I was slightly concerned about the slimy spinach that couldn’t be cut into smaller pieces.
Sure enough, he began to cough. I encouraged him to keep coughing, and he eventually coughed up…. the spinach. The next time I made sure to feed him myself, so I could keep track of the amount of food he was putting in his mouth at a time. I was prepared, though. I was prepared to take him out of his high chair, stand him on the floor, and perform the Heimlich maneuver. I would put the thumb side of my fist right above his belly button and pull in and up until the spinach was dislodged from his throat. It’s so important to know these basic CPR and First Aid skills because you never know when you’re going to need them.
Most of the time, First Aid while babysitting looks like boo-boos and bandaids, but you never know when a scenario might require more medical attention, and it’s so important for you to be prepared for those situations. As I said, children love to climb, put random objects in their mouths, and squeeze their fingers into tight spaces. You never know when a child might climb and fall on something sharp or put something in their mouth that might get lodged in their throat. Be careful what you are modeling for the children under your supervision. If a child sees you climb a chair to reach for something, that child is more likely to try and climb something near them. Be on the lookout for this, and know what to do in case of an emergency.
Courses for Babysitters
At First Response, we offer many classes in different forms to meet your needs. For babysitters, we recommend either of our online blended CPR and First Aid training options. We offer a Live Learning course via zoom as well as an at your own pace class depending on what works best for you. After you complete the instruction portion of the course, you will sign up for a hands-on skills check. After completion, you will receive your 2-year CPR and First Aid Certification. This is a great thing to show the parents that are considering hiring you. The certification shows them you are prepared for any emergency that might come your way. This may even allow you to charge more than others without a certification. This is also the same certification required for people working in a childcare facility, so if you are looking to start working in a school, you could also show this to the director for proof of certification.