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Class teaches baby-sitting

November 16, 2003|by BONNIE H. BRECHBILL

bonnieb@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The American Red Cross has developed a new class designed to help young local baby sitters care for their charges more safely and knowledgeably.

Lauraine Hawkins, biology instruction at the Pennsylvania State University's Mont Alto campus, said the course "will help them to anticipate and avoid some of the common problems ... There's clearly a need for it."

Hawkins, assisted by Red Cross volunteer registered nurse Carolyn McCartney, taught the class to 10 youngsters Saturday at the Chambersburg Red Cross headquarters.

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Diaper changing, bottle and spoon feeding and safety issues were part of the course. The students practiced on life-like infant mannequins.

They learned how to support the head of an infant when holding it or picking it up, what to do if a child chokes, why the temperature of formula should be tested on the baby sitter's wrist, how to diaper an infant and other skills.

Many proved adept at the tasks.

"These baby sitters are keepers," McCartney said.

"Becoming comfortable with the basic skills takes practice," Hawkins said.

She stressed safety throughout the class. "We want to keep them from getting into a hazardous situation. Accidental injuries are the leading cause of death in children over 1 year of age. Most are preventable," she said.

The students were given forms to fill out when going to a home to baby-sit, such as "Baby-sitter's Report Record," "Parental Consent and Contact Form" and "Family Interview Form," which helps the baby sitter learn each household's rules, basic care of the children, and safety practices.

Hawkins encouraged the baby sitters to ask the parents as much as they need to.

"You all know your address and phone number, but would you know that for the place you are baby-sitting?" she asked. "The parents might not remember that you don't know their street address. Know where there is a working flashlight, in case of power outage. Know where the children are allowed to go and not allowed to go."

After diapering the infant mannequin, Alex Stanish, 13, of Chambersburg, said he has changed diapers before, but not on a baby this young. The J. Frank Faust Junior High School student is CPR certified through the Boy Scouts.

Alex said his neighborhood has a lot of children, and that he baby-sits his younger brother and sister.

Rebecca Brooks, 12, who skillfully diapered and fed the mannequin, said she has taken parenting classes at her school, Chambersburg Area Middle School (CAMS).

CAMS sixth-grader Jaclyn Orndorf, 11, of Chambersburg, said she took the course "so I can take better care of kids. I really like kids. I have a younger sister that I baby-sit and I want to learn to do it the proper way."

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