What To Know Before Babysitting a Younger Relative

Babysitting isn’t just a gig; it’s an adventure—especially when you’re in charge of a pint-sized relative. Whether you’re watching over a cousin or a sibling, a unique mix of fun and responsibility comes into play with this form of babysitting. Sure, there’s likely the sweet cash incentive to top it off, but more importantly, you’ll have the chance to bond with your family and prove your maturity. Here’s everything you should know before babysitting a younger relative.

A teen babysitting her younger relative. The little girl is sitting on her lap, reading a book that the teen is holding open.

Familiarize Yourself With the Child’s Routine

First thing first—get the lowdown on the child’s schedule. Many kids thrive on routine, so sticking to the activities they’re used to doing is a great way to make them feel more comfortable while you’re in charge. That means meal times, nap times, and playtimes follow a sacred timetable. Chaos is not your friend here. If you already spend a lot of time with your relatives, you might already know this info, but it’s never a bad idea to ask the parents for the rundown and maybe jot it down on your phone so that you don’t serve spaghetti at snooze o’clock.

Learn How To Take Care of Them

If it’s your first rodeo, don’t fret! This job isn’t too difficult as long as you learn the basics. First off, establish how old the kiddo is. Toddlers need much more intricate care compared to school-aged experts of mischief. Their parents should let you know what kind of care they’ll need before they head out, but it’s not a bad idea to prepare in advance.

Gather intel on allergies, bedtimes, and how to handle the occasional temper tantrum. More importantly, make sure you know what to do during a medical emergency. Pro Tip: Always keep those emergency numbers handy (which, hopefully, you’ll never need).

Be Strict but Caring

It’s tempting to be the “cool” babysitter who lets things slide, but you’ll want to set some boundaries. You can still be the reigning champ of babysitters while ensuring that bedtime doesn’t become a free-for-all. Balance is key—keep a firm but caring grip on the reins, and respect will follow. Plus, your relatives will thank you.

Find Ways To Connect With Them

This isn’t a covert ops mission—babysitting a younger relative is just a way to have some quality family time! That’s why it’s important to know what they’re into these days. Is it dinosaurs, or have unicorns taken the lead? Maybe it’s robots or even… slime (gross). Regardless of what they’re into, try to find ways to engage with them, even if you don’t like it yourself.

Craft an epic Lego fortress together, or become characters in an imaginary story. No matter what you choose, this is your chance to be a hero in their eyes and create memories that last beyond your babysitting hours.

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