Baby-sitting is such an easy way to make money, that we hear it's how Bill Gates started his fortune. Food, TV, phone calls, and all for making sure that someone's baby doesn't accidentally swallow his own foot. But now we have to give you an unfortunate reality check: caring of an infant (well, we're talking about a child that is 12 months old or younger) is not nearly as easy as it seems. This is because you're not allowed to use duct tape.

Not only is it important for you to know the proper techniques for caring for an infant so that the baby remains healthy, it's also important for your own mental health. Baby-sitting can be extremely frustrating, but we have the answers here. In fact, Dr. Spock just wrote to us asking us for advice. OK, that's not true. But we hear he's a nice guy.

This SYW will teach you to accomplish 6 infant tasks: holding the baby, feeding the baby, changing the baby's diaper, bathing the baby, and putting the baby to sleep. We'll be working under the assumption that you're a first-time baby-sitter, so we promise not to go too fast; we'll take baby steps.

Before we even get started, here are some fundamental baby-sitting tips:

  1. DON'T use this SYW as your only guide for general infant rearing. Yes, this is a great guide to orient yourself to baby-sitting techniques for very young children, but all of our information must be supplemented with other sources of child expertise. In other words, don't sue us or take our word as law. These are general basic techniques and should be treated as such. Now that we've covered our own butts...

  2. Get the phone number of all the places that the baby's parents will be.

  3. Have the number of the pediatrician.

  4. Ask the parents well in advance to prepare the bottles, clean diapers, and anything else that you'll need. You don't want to be looking for a clean diaper in a mid-changing.

  5. Ask if the baby has any medical conditions (for instance, does she have a cold?).

  6. Specifically ask the parents how they usually get the baby to go to sleep. While we'll provide you with a couple of suggestions, the parents probably know best.


Holding a baby is not the same as picking up a sack of potatoes. While a newborn is not as fragile as she may look (we'll assume you're caring for a female infant), there is a right way to pick up and hold her:

  1. If the baby is lying on her back, slide one hand under her neck and fan out your fingers so that your hand can support her whole head. Slide your other hand and fanned out fingers under the baby's lower back area.

  2. Lean close to the baby and lift her up in a uniform bundle. Don't let her limbs flail around and keep her head a little higher than the rest of her body.

  3. If the baby is lying on her stomach, roll her over onto her back and then follow the instructions above.

  4. If someone is handing you the baby, lean close to the person and collect the baby in a tight bundle.

  5. When you're holding the baby, always make sure you're supporting her head. It can be in your hand, in the crook of your arm, in your homemade infant-head-supporting device, or whatever. But make sure the baby's head isn't flopping around. A newborn's neck isn't very strong, and her head is very big, compared to the rest of her body. She'll need you to help her support her freakishly large (yet very cute) head until she can manage it herself.