University of Illinois Extension

Information You Need

Information to Get from Parents

Emergency Numbers

  • Fire, police, ambulance (911 may take care of all three), doctors, neighbors, family members
  • Address and phone number of the house where you're watching children

Where are the parents going? Get the name, address, and telephone number. Ask for the cell phone number and/or pager number if available. Find out the time they expect to get to their destination and when they expect to leave. If they are going to more than one place, get the approximate time they will switch locations. If they are going to see a play or listen to a concert, get the row and seat numbers of their tickets.

What time do they expect to return?

Do they expect any phone calls or visitors? If yes, who? And how would they like the door and phone to be answered?

Information to Get about the Child

Meals and Menus — When is mealtime? What should the child eat? Are there any food allergies or food restrictions? May she have a snack? What can she eat for a snack? Ask what you may eat and only eat what you are told. Are there any eating problems or dislikes? How much should she eat?

Medication — Do not give the child any medication unless instructed by the parents. Have them write down the name of the medication, the correct dosage, the time it should be given and if food or a drink should be avoided or given with the medication.

Playtime — Are there special play areas inside the house? Are you allowed to play outside? Are playmates allowed in the yard or house? Is the child allowed to go to a friend's house? Which friends and what is the address and phone number? Does the child have any special jobs to do/ any special requirements? Are any toys to be avoided? Can he play on the computer? If yes, what programs can he play with and are there instructions for starting them? Can he watch TV? If yes, how long can he watch and what programs can he watch?

Bedtime — When is bedtime? Have there been any problems getting the child to go to bed? Is there a favorite story or bedtime friend? Security blanket or pacifier? Where is she to sleep? Does she have a special bedtime routine? If yes, what is it? What clothes should she wear to bed?

Bath time — Do you need to give the child a bath? If yes, does she take a bath or shower? Can she clean her body and shampoo her hair without help? Can she brush her teeth without help? What clothes should she wear after bathing? Remember to never leave a child alone in a bathtub filled with water!

Discipline — Are there any house rules that you need to know before the parents depart? Do parents expect you to discipline their child when she is misbehaving? If so, what type of behaviors would require disciplinary action and what method would they want you to use? Are parents wanting you to report any bad behavior from the child upon their arrival home?

Information about the House

Locks, Alarms, & Extra Keys — Where are they? How do they work? How do the windows work?

Emergency Supplies — Ask about flashlights, candles & matches, first aid and cleaning supplies.

Appliances — Make sure you know how to work the can opener, stovetop and oven, microwave, high chair, infant swing, and anything else you may need while you're watching the children. Ask how to adjust the heat or air conditioning.

Pets — If the family has pets, check to see if they need to be fed or given water. When, what and how much? Can they go outside?

Miscellaneous —  Take a tour of the home. Find out where everything you'll need is located. Determine the quickest route of escape from children's rooms in case of fire or other emergency.