Adventist Youth Honors Answer Book/Health and Science/Child Care (Babysitting)

Child Care (Babysitting)
Health and Science
Euro-Africa Division
Skill Level 1
Year of Introduction: Unknown

1. Be able to look after a baby during several hours in the absence of its mother.


After studying the other requirements in this honor, and after taking care of a baby while its mother is present, you will be ready to take care of a baby in its mother's absence. Offer to watch the baby of a relative, friend, neighbor, or church member. They may offer to pay you, but if you do it for free, you can count time spent watching the baby as community service or outreach.

There are many excellent outreach opportunities for meeting this requirement. If your church is conducting an evangelistic seminar, you can offer your services in the nursery. You can also offer your services during any church program, from the Sabbath worship service to social events to wedding showers to seminars.

Parents invariably appreciate the opportunity to get away from the baby for a few hours, but at the same time, they are hesitant about leaving it in the care of a stranger. If your community offers baby-sitting classes with certifications, consider signing up. Having a certificate will help build the parents' confidence in you.

Being able to leave their child with a qualified baby sitter can be a boon to a parent's spiritual well-being. A church that ministers well to children will attract and retain their parents as members. What better time to start than when their children are babies?

2. List all the precautions to be taken when preparing the baby's bottle; prepare it and give it to the baby.


Preparing the bottle

  • Make sure the bottle is clean.
  • If using formula, make sure you mix it according to the directions.
  • If using milk, put only as much as the baby needs in the bottle. The baby's usual care giver should be able to tell you how much and how often the baby should be fed.
  • Older babies may drink milk cold, but others will need it to be heated first. The ideal temperature for milk is body temperature (99 °F, or 37 °C), as that is the temperature of breastmilk. If the milk needs to be heated, follow these guidelines:
    • Contrary to popular belief, the bottle can be heated in a microwave oven, so long as the milk is mixed well after it comes out. The problem with heating milk in a microwave is that it heats the milk unevenly. There may be pockets of milk that are hot enough to burn the baby's mouth, while other parts of the milk are still cold. Shake the milk vigorously after removing it from the microwave.
    • You may also heat the milk in a saucepan.
    • Before giving heated milk to a baby, always check its temperature by squirting some on your wrist or on the soft side of your forearm. These areas of your body are sensitive to heat. If the milk feels hotter than your skin, do not give it to the baby. Instead, mix up some more and try heating it less, or put it in the refrigerator until it cools down to body temperature.

Feeding the baby

  • Infants cannot hold the bottle for themselves, so you will have to do this for them.
  • A very young baby does not have sufficient strength in her neck muscles to support her head. In this case, you must support the baby's head while feeding her.
  • Be sure to hold the bottle such that the milk always covers the nipple. If you quit paying attention and the bottle slips around causing the baby to suck air instead of milk, the baby will swallow the air and get a tummy ache.
  • When the baby quits drinking the milk, take away the bottle. Then burp the baby. This is done by holding the baby against your chest with her head over your shoulder. Lightly pat the baby on the back until she burps. She may discharge some of the milk on your shoulder when she burps, so be prepared for that. That's just the way babies are!
  • If the baby is old enough to hold the bottle by herself, keep an eye on her while she drinks it. It is bad practice to give a baby a bottle when you put her down to go to sleep. Often when this is done, the baby will fall asleep without swallowing the last mouthful of milk, and this will cause tooth decay. Furthermore, the baby does not learn to go to sleep without the bottle.

3. Prepare, bathe, change and dress the baby.


Preparing the bath


Babies cannot tell you if the water is too hot, so you must be careful to ensure that the temperature is right. Fill the tub with about two inches (5 cm) of water, and check that the temperature is comfortable. You do not want it to be too hot, nor should it be too cold. You must not leave the baby unattended even for a few seconds while she is in the tub. Therefore, bring everything you will need for the bath to the tub before you bring the baby in. If you do forget something, take the baby out of the tub, wrap her in a towel so that she does not get cold and so she is not so slippery (you don't want to drop her!) Then take her with you to fetch the forgotten item.

Bathing the baby


You must always stay with the baby when it is in the tub. A baby can easily drown in even half an inch of water. If the phone rings, do not leave the baby so you can answer it. Let it ring, or take the baby with you (wrap her in a towel so she does not get cold) when you go to answer it. The same goes for the doorbell, or any other distraction.

First wash the baby's face, starting with the area around her eyes. Do not use soap on her face - a wet wash cloth will do nicely. It is better to wet the washcloth from the faucet rather than from the tub, because the baby may have urinated in the water. You wouldn't wash your own face in that, so don't wash the baby's face in it either. The reason you start with the eyes is because they are susceptible to infection. Use one corner of the washcloth on one eye, and a different corner of the washcloth on the other eye. This will prevent spreading an existing infection from one eye to the other. After you are finished washing the baby's face, you can wash her hair.

Use a gentle soap and shampoo on the baby. Babies' skin is more sensitive than yours, so you must use extra gentle soap. Also, be careful to not get any soap or shampoo in the baby's eyes. Baby shampoo and soap will not damage the baby if it does get in the eyes, but it may hurt, and the baby may cry. Some babies do not like to get water on their faces, even if the soap doesn't make her eyes sting. You can buy a visor to put around the baby's head to divert the water away from her face when rinsing shampoo out of her hair. Otherwise, you can tilt her head way back (support it with your hand!), and carefully rinse her head that way.

Finally, you are ready to wash the baby's body. Start with the neck, chest, tummy, back, and arms, then move to the legs and feet. Wash the diaper area last, as that area is most likely to pick up germs.

Dressing the baby


When you are finished rinsing the baby, lift her out and carefully wrap her in a towel. Drain the tub immediately. Do not let the water stand in the tub, as the baby could find her way back to the tub, fall in, and drown. Gently dry the baby. You may wish to powder her behind before putting a diaper back on her. It is difficult to get the baby's diaper area dry with only a towel, and powder will help with this. Do not use too much, and be careful not to make powder clouds for you and the baby to inhale. Once powdered, she is ready to be diapered.

Lay the baby on her back, and slip the diaper underneath her hips. Then draw the front of the diaper up towards her tummy. If you are using disposable diapers, undo the adhesive from the back of the diaper and fasten it to the front. Do this on both the left and the right (the order does not matter). Remember that the adhesive will not stick if you get powder on it, so do not expose the adhesive until the powder has settled. Do not draw the diaper too tightly. You should be able to slip two finger into the diaper at the baby's hip. If you cannot, the diaper is too tight. The diaper should be tight enough so that it does not fall off. If you can slip four fingers into the waistline, it may be too loose. Adjust as necessary. You will eventually get the hang of it, so that you won't need to check and recheck.

Finally, put the baby's clothes on her. Be careful not to pinch her when you do this, and make sure the clothes are not twisted and that they lay right.

4. Prepare the baby's bed and put it to bed for the night.


Baby's soil their sheets more often than other people, so it is important to check that the sheet are clean before putting the baby to bed. Sometimes a baby will need to have its sheets changed more than once in a day. We will not go into all the things that a baby can do to soil the sheets. A Pathfinder can well imagine the possibilities without help from this Answer Book.

Child rearing experts frequently debate the proper way to lay a baby down for sleep. Some say to lay them on their tummies so that if they spit up they will not choke on the sputum. Others say to lay them on their backs so they do not bury their faces in the soft mattress or blanket and suffocate (this has happened). This can be addressed by using only a firm mattress in the baby's bed, and by not having a lot of blankets and other items in the bed with the baby. Comforters should also be avoided until the baby is able to turn herself over.

A good compromise to lay the baby on her side. To do this, you may need to roll up two dry towels or small blankets and place them one on either side of the baby to hold her in place. Do not cover her face or head with a blanket. Draw the blanket up over her shoulders, but no farther.

Some parents will wait until the baby falls asleep and then carefully put them to bed. Others are able to put the baby in bed when it is awake. Try to find out how the baby is used to being put to bed before you have to do it yourself.

5. Know how to weigh a baby and to fill in the weigh schedule form.


Weighing the baby


Unless you have a baby scale, this is going to present an easily-overcome difficulty. Babies cannot stand until they are 8 months old or so, and then they are not steady. By the time they gain steadiness, they are not interested in standing on a scale while you try to get a reading. The easy way to deal with this is to weigh both yourself and the baby, and then subtract your weight.

The weigh schedule form


The weigh schedule form is a chart that compares a child's height, weight, and head circumference to that of children of the same age and sex. In Europe (where this honor originates), this data is plotted on a chart to detect development abnormalities. In North America, this data is generally measured and recorded by a pediatrician during a "well child" visit. The results are reported to the parent as percentiles. If a child is in the 60th percentile for height, it means that he is taller than 60% of children of the same age and sex.

In places where these forms are not filled out at home, it should be sufficient to understand that these measurements can be compared to national averages to track a child's development.

6. Explain why breast-feeding is superior to bottle-feeding.


The benefits of breastfeeding are both physical and psychological for both mother and child. Nutrients and antibodies are passed to the baby while hormones are released into the mother's system. The bond between baby and mother can also be strengthened during breastfeeding.

Breast milk, when fed directly from the breast, is immediately available with no wait and is at body temperature. Breast-fed babies have a decreased risk for several infant conditions including sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The sucking technique required of the infant encourages the proper development of both the teeth and other speech organs. Sucking also has a beneficial role in the prevention of obstructive sleep apnea.

The many health benefits of breastfeeding have been well documented. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement, "Extensive research, especially in recent years, documents diverse and compelling advantages to infants, mothers, families, and society from breastfeeding and the use of human milk for infant feeding. These include health, nutritional, immunologic, developmental, psychological, social, economic, and environmental benefits."

(Taken from the Wikipedia article on Breast Feeding).

7. What is weaning?


Weaning is the process of gradually introducing the infant to what will be its adult diet and withdrawing the supply of milk. The infant is considered to be fully weaned once it no longer receives any breast milk and begins to rely on solid foods for all its nutrition.

(Taken from the Wikipedia article on Breast Feeding).

8. What is the fontanel (soft spot)? At about what age does it disappear?

The skull at birth, showing the front (anterior) and rear (posterior) fontanels.

The skull of a newborn consists of five main bones: two bones in the front, two bones on the side (one one each side), and one bone at the back of the head. These are joined by fibrous joints, which allow movement that facilitates childbirth and brain growth.

At birth, the skull features a small fontanel at the back of the head, an open area covered by a tough membrane, where the two bones at the sides of the head adjoin the bone at the back of the head. This fontanelle usually closes during the first several months of an infant's life.

There is also a much larger, diamond-shaped fontanel where the two frontal and two side bones come together. This fontanel remains open until the child is about two years of age. This fontenel is found at the very top of the baby's head.

The fontanel at the top of the head is useful clinically. A sunken fontanel indicates dehydration, whereas a very tense or bulging fontanel indicates raised pressure inside the skull (both conditions require medical attention).

Parents may worry that their infant may be more prone to injury at the fontanel. In fact, although they may colloquially be called "soft-spots", the membrane covering the fontanelles is extremely tough and difficult to penetrate.

(Taken from the Wikipedia article on the Fontanelle)

9. Interview staff at a local day care center regarding their organization and the help they offer to mothers.


Day care centers are very busy places, so you will want to make arrangements ahead of time with the staff to meet with them. Allow them to suggest a time when it is convenient for them to talk to you. Be on time and courteous. Day care centers are also excellent places for Pathfinders to do community service. They are unlikely to ask the Pathfinders to take charge of the kids, but they well may have painting or yardwork that needs to be done.