Diabetic Babysitting Woes

Ginger Vieira Health Guide
  • Fortunately, I was old enough when diagnosed with diabetes that the issue of hiring a babysitter was never actually an issue. However, there are obviously plenty of very young children with type 1 diabetes, and mom and dad wouldn't mind a night on the town now and then. Getting a break from your kids is probably hard enough as it is -- throwing diabetes into the mix makes it seem almost impossible.


    So you can imagine, being an older and fairly responsible diabetic, I was getting paid a pretty penny for babysitting young kids with diabetes. There were a couple of diabetic kids in my hometown I babysat for -- I was introduced to both by our mutual endocrinologist.

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    For parents in search of a diabetic babysitter, I suggest you ask your endocrinologist if any of their high school-aged patients qualify as responsible, trustworthy and capable of being responsible for your child's diabetes as well.


    The other side to this, however, is making sure you explain the diabetic babysitter the real rules you have set up for your child. Leave a carb/insulin ratio for them to refer to (especially obvious if your child is not capable of programming his own pump or drawing up injections). When it comes to the 9- and 10-year-olds, it's still really important to make sure the babysitter knows the specific guidelines for your child, because everyone's diabetes is a little different.


    I can tell you from experience as both a camp counselor and a babysitter, kids will try to skirt the rules when the parents aren't around. Maybe they don't realize the importance of the rules and they're just dying for a little diabetic freedom -- I don't know, but while you should give trust where trust is due, give the babysitting a bit-o-preparation too.


    One young fellow I used to take care of was extremely mature for an 8-year-old kid, extremely responsible -- and dying for a little freedom. By freedom, I mean M&Ms, which his incredibly responsible parents of course limited as much as possible. This was the first time I'd taken care of him, and he convinced me he knew how much insulin to take -- and I trusted him because of his odd maturity level -- and sure enough, an hour later he was in the 300s.


    Lesson Ginger Learned That Day: Second-guessing diabetic kids while you're babysitting is OK.


    Meanwhile, if you're diabetic and at least 15 years old (and responsible...), you may want to ask your endocrinologist if they know any parents in need of dinner and a movie. Be sure to charge more than the average babysitter because you're being asked to be responsible for much more than the average babysitter.


    And if you're a parent, don't worry -- you can find trustworthy people to take care of your kids. Understandably, it might be a bit terrifying if you're the one that's been giving little Jimmy his shots every day, but eventually (sorry to say) you're going to have to let Jimmy do it himself!


    And a great motivation for Jimmy would be for him to watch his older diabetic babysitter taking care of her own diabetes all on her own, too.


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    For more babysitting advice, see "Solving the Babysitter Dilemma."

Published On: August 17, 2007