How to Babysit Multiple Children

How to Babysit Multiple Children

Babysitting is a popular job for both teens and adults as it can be a great way to make a little extra money. While it may seem a little intimidating at first, especially to someone who has never done it before, it's simple to get the hang of with practice. Every child is different, and whether you’re watching a multitude of them or just one, it can be a rewarding experience.


[Edit]Planning Ahead

  1. Learn the basics about the children. At a minimum, learn their ages and pronouns. A 12-year-old girl, 7-year-old boy, and 3-year-old girl, for example, will all have different interests, different dietary needs, different things they are allowed to do at home, and different bedtimes. Knowing these things will help you plan out activities appropriate for everyone.
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    • You could ask the parents something like, “So you have 2 little boys that are 4 and 10. Do they have the same bedtime or is it okay for the older boy to stay up a little later?” Or “do they share similar interests? What do they like to do most of the time?”
    • During your first conversation with parents, don’t fret about how to ask questions to get the information you need. Parents will most likely be expecting you to ask these questions and may even offer the information without prompting.
    • If you feel awkward asking in the moment, simply review the information the parents gave you and then ask your questions afterward.
    • Take note during the conversation and write down important information, such as if the children have allergies or medical issues, where medications and a first-aid kit are kept, and any relevant phone numbers.
  2. Meet the children. Children are much more likely to be comfortable and behave properly if they are already familiar with you. If you can, try to visit with them for an hour or two a day or so before babysitting. This will also help you get a feel for their individual personalities and how they respond to you and each other.[1]
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    • If you can’t meet with them a few days beforehand, see if it’s possible for you to come over an hour or so before you are set to babysit. This way the kids can spend some time with you with the buffer of their parents to make them feel safer.
  3. Discuss what the parents expect of you. Many parents will go over bedtimes, dietary habits, allergies, medicines, and dos and don’ts for their children when you arrive.[2] For example, many children have a set bedtime and a routine beforehand, or certain idiosyncrasies like having to have a particular bowl for dinner. Knowing these things will not only help the child feel more comfortable but also help you feel more concrete in directing them if they try to question you or start complaining.[3]
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    • Be sure to ask questions if you still feel unsure when discussing these things with a parent.
    • You can also make a list to go back over later in case you forget anything.
    • Remember, if you feel a parent is asking for more than you’re comfortable with, you can always turn down the job.
  4. Discuss discipline.[4] Though you are likely to have your own ideas and way of managing behavioral problems, it’s always best to first ask a parent what to do if their child is acting up. Chances are they will tell you before you even get to this question. However, keep in mind that children act in different ways for different people, and any problems they have when their parents are around may be different than what they do with you.[5] So make sure you are clear on rules and expectations for disciplining their children.
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    • Asking about discipline can feel awkward, almost like you're assuming the children will do something wrong, but don't worry! A simple, “What is your approach to discipline?” or "Just in case, is there any particular way you'd like me to handle behavioral issues?" avoids assumptions and gives the parents a chance to explain their approach.[6]
  5. Get emergency information. You should get the emergency contact information from the parents. For example, if you can’t reach the parents on their cell phones, can you call the place they are going or someone else to help you? The parents should have a list of numbers for you before they leave.
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    • Before you start babysitting it’s also good to know the first aid basics like how to do CPR or the heimlich maneuver just make sure you are familiar with the procedures appropriate for the age group you’re watching.[7]
    • It’s best to take a babysitting course from the American Red Cross or another reputable organization so you are prepared for various scenarios.[8]

[Edit]Doing Group Activities

  1. Go outside. This is especially good for younger children who may need to work off excess energy. Whether going to a park or just to the backyard, there are plenty of outdoor activities that you can do together. Try visiting a playground, taking a walk, or even kicking a soccer ball around. Just make sure you check with the parents before taking the children to a park or anywhere else.
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    • Be sure you pay very close attention to the kids when you are outside! It can be easy for them to wander off, especially in a park with lots of other children. Try to make sure you keep them in sight at all times and do a regular headcount.
  2. Play a physical game. These can be done outside or inside and are another great way to burn off energy. Try something like Red Light/Green Light, Simon Says, Tag, or Hide and Seek to get everyone involved. Letting kids take the lead in Simon Says or Red Light/Green Light is also a great way to keep them interested.[9]
    Babysit Multiple Children Step 7 Version 3.jpg
  3. Build a fort. Let the kids plan it out with some direction. You can also have them direct you as you get materials together and start building. This is a great way to engage everyone and let the kids be creative. You won’t need to purchase any excess materials, all you need is pillows and blankets. Of course, you are free to use any other building material like cardboard boxes, towels, couches, and tables. Just make sure you know what you are allowed to use and that you clean everything up afterward.[10]
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  4. Create an obstacle course. Like building a fort, creating an obstacle course is a great way to get everyone working together. Young kids also often like competition, so having them compete against each other or against you will help them engage and be interested in the activity. All you need for this is the same material you need for a fort - pillows, couches, and blankets. Just make sure you have the extra space and anything the kids can hurt themselves with is moved away.[11]
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    • Try putting down some tape for a “balance beam,” or to mark off spots where they have to jump from one area to another. You can also have them crawl under tables or through boxes, throw crumpled paper into laundry baskets, or even try walking backward. Get creative! [12]
    • For even more space, try doing this outside.
  5. Make a scavenger hunt. This can be easy or difficult depending on how old the kids are and how much time you want to put in. You can use anything in the household or bring your own material for the kids. Ideally, you want it to be easy enough for them to understand, yet challenging enough to keep them interested. For younger kids, you can use pictures instead of written clues, and for older kids, you can try simple riddles.
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    • Write things like “find one gray and white sock,” or “bring me two red pens.”
    • For riddles, try something like “I’m tall when I’m young and short when I’m old,” for a candle/pencil.
    • Make sure to include some prizes at the end for motivation. These can be anything from stickers to candy.
  6. Try painting, drawing, or coloring. If you don’t want the kids running all over the place and potentially screaming, try a calmer activity like arts and crafts. Most kids love to draw and color, so bringing an assortment of pens, colored pencils, crayons, and stock paper can go a long way. You can also bring a couple of coloring books.[13]
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    • If you know the kids’ interests, you can bring coloring books of things they like. For example, a coloring book on Disney’s Frozen or one of cars.
    • You can also search online for coloring material. The Disney website, for example, has a number of crafts and coloring projects based on their movies. Most of these are free for printing, however, some websites will require you to pay or join to get the material.
  7. Have a dance party. Most children love sing-alongs, and if you get up and dance they are likely to move right along with you. You can even let them help you decide on a playlist, that way you are sure to have the music they like.
    Babysit Multiple Children Step 12 Version 2.jpg
    • If you have enough people, you can even turn the dance party into a game of musical chairs.
  8. Play board games, cards, or build a puzzle. These are great for varying age groups. If you have a mix of ages, the older kids can help the younger ones play or you can split into teams.[14] This is also a great way to keep everyone at one table or area so you can watch them.
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    • Easy board games like Hungry, Hungry Hippos, Sorry, Uno, or Connect Four are great for all ages. Games like Clue, Pictionary, Monopoly, or Battleship work well for older children.

[Edit]Doing Individual Activities

  1. Try coloring or drawing. This works as both a group and individual activity. A few markers or crayons and some sheets of paper are all you need. You can also purchase coloring books cheaply from somewhere like Toys R’ Us or Target. This is a good way to keep one of the children still so you can monitor them while you do something else with the other child.[15]
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  2. Bring puzzle books. There are a variety of puzzle books for kids of all ages. You can have simple mazes for children or something harder like Sudoku for older children. If neither of these works, there are also dot-to-dot books, trivia books, and even origami books. These are great for children to work on alone or with each other.
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  3. Let the child pick out a book. Even if they can't read yet, some children are happy to sit looking at a picture book. For older kids, letting them read a book, magazine, or comic book is a good way to make sure they’re happy while you are doing something else. Also, depending on the variation in ages, you can have the older children read to the younger ones.
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  4. Try building games. Not only can children build whatever they want with building games like LEGOS, there are also specific instructions to make things like buildings, cars, or flying crafts. If you don't want to use LEGOS, you can also try building with K’nex or Lincoln Logs.
    Babysit Multiple Children Step 17 Version 2.jpg
    • If there aren’t any of these materials in the home, try looking somewhere like eBay or a secondhand store to get them cheaper.
    • If you can’t purchase these materials yourself and are regularly watching a child or children who you think would enjoy them, try discussing buying these with the parents. They may be willing to pay for them.

[Edit]Managing Problems

  1. Treat the children equally.[16] If you’ve brought a toy or a snack for one of the children, you should have the same (or a more appropriate equivalent) for all of them. If you don’t, you may run into discipline problems.[17]
    Babysit Multiple Children Step 18 Version 2.jpg
    • If a child insists that one of the other children got more or something better, have that child divide the items and then let the other child have first pick. This will usually appease both children and make sure it’s still fair all around.
  2. Separate the children if they can’t get along. You don’t want conflicts to escalate. Having activities for each of the children to do will make it easier to keep them occupied in this case. If discipline is necessary, review the parents' instructions or use your best judgment.
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    • Try placing the children at opposite ends of the room or in different rooms where you can monitor both. You can either give them a quiet activity like drawing to do alone or simply have them sit quietly for 5-10 minutes. You can even have them write an apology for what they did wrong.
    • You should always make sure to explain to a child calmly what they did wrong and why they are being punished.
  3. Be patient and set a good example.[18] Since children's needs can vary widely from age to age, you may often find yourself being pulled in different directions at once. Keep your cool. The older children may get frustrated with the younger children due to their differences in cognitive ability, and you have to set the example for the right way to treat them.[19]
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    • Always calmly answer any questions that arise to the best of your ability - younger kids ask a lot.
    • Realize that the children are always watching you. Don't set a good example only when you're dealing with a tantrum.[20]
    • You also shouldn’t rush through activities if the younger kids are taking a while. If the older children become frustrated, either have them move onto something else or ask them to help you with the younger kids instead.
  4. Place yourself somewhere you can see everything. If each of the children is doing a different activity, try to move yourself somewhere where you can watch them both. If this isn't possible, try to at least move them into the same room. For example, if one child wants to play a video game in the game room and another child wants to color, see if you can have the one child color in the game room.
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    • You should always maintain sight and sound supervision of every child in your care.
  5. Have the older kids help you monitor the younger ones. Give them some responsibilities by clarifying that they are older and thus more capable and responsible. It’s likely that they're used to doing this as they may be older siblings anyways, or used to being with younger children. Also, most little kids look up to their siblings or older ones and will want to do what they are doing.
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    • Try to ask them for help rather than simply telling them to help. Simply say, “Hey, could you help Jade with her drawing?” or “Could you please help me run the kids through this activity?”


  • Be flexible! Children's temperaments and wants can change quickly, so be patient and willing to change course if you need to.
  • Ask questions, don't worry about asking too much when speaking with parents, it's better to get all the information you can.
  • Don't go crazy or get sad if the kid(s) don't like your games.
  • Younger kids, especially boys, like to get praised and encouraged. Do not forget this when communicating with them.
  • Watch what you tell the kids. If you hear a child call you a funny name, chuckle and say,"You silly goose!" or whatever. If you say something such as stupid, rude, brat, etc., they may pick that up (especially the younger kids) and may use those words around their siblings or parents.


  2. [v161832_b01]. 11 June 2021.
  4. [v161711_b01]. 19 February 2021.
  5. [v161832_b01]. 11 June 2021.
  7. [v161711_b01]. 19 February 2021.
  8. [v161711_b01]. 19 February 2021.
  9. [v161832_b01]. 11 June 2021.
  10. [v161832_b01]. 11 June 2021.
  13. [v161832_b01]. 11 June 2021.
  14. [v161832_b01]. 11 June 2021.
  16. [v161711_b01]. 19 February 2021.
  18. [v161711_b01]. 19 February 2021.
  20. [v161711_b01]. 19 February 2021.
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