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I Have Cerebral Palsy. Can I Babysit?

I really want to babysit, but I have cerebral palsy. Is there even a chance for me to get hired?
- Kiera*

Yes. Many teens with CP can do things other teens do, and that includes babysitting. It's true that some parents might be a bit thrown off at first. But if you can show that you are capable, the right clients will come around.

Build Your Skills

So how do you show you're capable? Start by taking a babysitting course at your local hospital, YMCA, Red Cross, or other reputable organization. Then, when you look for babysitting jobs, you can advertise that you are certified as a babysitter and present your certificate to parents. Knowing that a hospital or group like the Red Cross endorses you as a babysitter will help convince parents of your abilities.

You can reach out for help from other places, too. If you'd like to talk to someone about babysitting opportunities for teens with CP, talk to your school counselor or contact a CP group. Your local chapter of the United Cerebral Palsy Foundation might be able to offer advice or connect you with other teens who babysit so you can get tips from someone who's been there.

Get Experience

After taking a course and doing some research, your next step is to get experience. Babysit for relatives or neighbors who are close by, or help out at the childcare center at your place of worship. You're not only gaining experience, you're also building references who can vouch for your skills.

A lot of new babysitters get experience by starting out as a "mother's helper." This is where you look after kids while their mom or dad is still at home. It's a great way to build your confidence — and your references!

When looking for jobs beyond friends and neighbors, don't downplay your CP. Use it as a selling point. Many teens who live with a health condition are more mature than their peers, and maturity counts for a lot when babysitting.

Before You Start, Make a Plan

Decide what age group you'd like to babysit for. If you're concerned about supervising or chasing toddlers or picking up babies, you probably want to advertise that you're looking to babysit quieter, school-age kids. When parents answer your ad, tell them that you have CP and explain how that won't interfere with looking after the right child.

As with any job, preparation is key. All babysitters should make a list of their strengths and limitations, then think through the best situation to accommodate these.

And remember, there's one area where you have an edge over other babysitters: You can be a great role model for a child who has a health condition. A lot of parents will jump at the chance to have a babysitter who can inspire their child.

*Names have been changed to protect user privacy.

Reviewed by: Kate M. Cronan, MD
Date reviewed: November 2012

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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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