"A Babysitter's Guide to Babysitting for Parents Who Have a Child With Diabetes "

Article written by Jessica Plunkett
for Diabeteshealth.com
December 12th, 2007

Hiring a babysitter is not a problem for most parents, but for parents of kids who have diabetes, it is very challenging. Babysitting such a child is a huge undertaking, and it takes a lot of experience.

At the age of thirteen, I started babysitting for children with diabetes whose parents needed some well-deserved time off. In the process, I have learned a great deal about making the experience go smoothly.

I gained my first experience by caring for my little brother, Danny, who was diagnosed with diabetes when he was seven years old and I was ten. I went to all the initial training meetings at the hospital because I wanted to help, and I have played a growing role in taking care of him ever since. Eventually, I learned to babysit Danny alone when my parents needed to go out for a night.

Parents of a child with diabetes can think about leaving him with a responsible babysitter once he (or a sibling) can give himself shots and test his own blood sugar. But the babysitter will still need both verbal and written guidance from the parents. By following the tips that I have listed below, parents can make it much easier for their babysitter to do a good job.

  • Make sure that she knows where all the diabetes supplies are, just in case the child can't find his glucose monitor, test strips, or other supplies.
  • Demonstrate to the babysitter how your child tests and gives himself a shot.
  • Explain the meal plan and lay out the foods that need to be eaten. Advise the babysitter about what to do if the child decides he is not hungry.
  • Explain the signs of a low blood sugar and go over what to do if the child's blood sugar is low.

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Create a timeline.

  • Include testing times, eating times, and injection times, in addition to bedtimes of the child and any siblings.
  • Set a timer for the next thing on the list. When everyone is playing or watching TV, it is hard to pay attention to the clock.

Type up an information sheet.

  • Leave your cell phone numbers, informed neighbors/family's phone numbers, and the doctor's number. Make sure you stress that the babysitter should call without hesitation if she has a question.
  • Write down what happens when your child experiences a low blood sugar and how to detect it.

Babysitting can be a lot of fun for both the sitter and the child, and it can give exhausted parents some needed time off. If the parents create a careful plan and prepare the babysitter well, diabetes need not get in the way of a good time for both parents and children.

Jessica Plunkett was recently featured with her family in the book The Challenge of Childhood Diabetes: Family Strategies for Raising a Healthy Child, available at www.challengeofdiabetes.com.