Tips for finding the right babysitter for type 1 diabetic youth

Being a parent of a type 1 diabetic puts a spin on hiring a babysitter.

Michigan State University Extension has begun a new partnership with the American Diabetes Association offering the opportunity to expand resources throughout Michigan. This partnership has expanded the diabetes education offered by MSU Extension increasing the impact to our current diabetes programming, now to include type 1 diabetic (T1D) youth.

Shifting current adult diabetes focus to a youth driven component, brings different areas of concern families face when living with a T1D child. All parents need time together to reconnect without having children in tow, but finding a babysitter who understands the dangers and details of diabetes can be challenging.

When using teen babysitters, it is important for these teens to be trained either by parents or taking babysitter courses specific to diabetes. These courses need to focus on the understanding of dangerous highs and lows inherent in the disease and should have the skills to test blood sugars, give insulin injections, adjust insulin pumps and treat hypoglycemia.

The American Diabetes Association has advice for families looking for a babysitter of T1D child:

  • Find sitters using word of mouth. Talk to other families of T1D children at diabetic camps or events.
  • Take turns watching each other’s kids.
  • Train a babysitter interested in helping with your child.
  • Place an ad in a local university newspaper for someone with diabetes related experience, especially if the school has a nursing program.

Other thoughts when considering a babysitter for a T1D child is to ask family members or close friends that are comfortable or have a relationship with your child. When asking, it is important for these people to understand you need honest responses and they can decline if they are uncomfortable with the idea being alone with and in charge of the dangers and details of diabetes.

Remember to give sitters an organized and easy to read instructions and contact information. This will give any aged sitter the confidence to watch your child that may be use a different meter than they are be familiar. Let sitters know if it makes them feel better, they can do a blood sugar test frequently within reason to make them feel comfortable.

There’s a lot to consider when parenting a T1D child and having the desire to have some alone time throws another thing to think about. It is doable to find capable people to help with your child during these times. MSU Extension offers various health educational classes around the state.

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