The 11-year-old was starting to get used to baby-sitting her two toddler siblings for short lengths of time.

Gabi Sherry, a sixth-grader at Custer Baker Intermediate School, stays with her 2- and 3-year-old siblings while her mother runs an errand or works out at the gym.

A local baby-sitting class has helped her feel more confident in the skills she needs to care for her siblings.

Johnson County Public Libraries started a Safe Sitter class in May to teach tweens and teens the ins and outs of baby-sitting their siblings and neighbors.

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Aspiring baby sitters can learn almost anything from how much to charge for their services to what to do when a child cuts a finger. CPR skills and how to safely give the Heimlich Maneuver are covered in the seven-hour class.

Local librarians decided to offer Safe Sitter classes after they saw that neighboring counties offered the nationwide curriculum or a similar class, said Scott Loman, Safe Sitter instructor for the Trafalgar branch.

The nearest general baby-sitting class was offered on the southside, and fees to take classes in another county could be steep, he said.

A group of local librarians decided to bring the program to the county.

Plus, teenagers could always use instruction on how to care for younger children, Loman said.

Families where an older sibling was watching a younger sibling would come into the library and Loman would remember how he baby-sat his younger siblings as a teen.

He remember how unprepared he felt at times while baby-sitting, he said.

“We were totally untrained on what to do in some situations,” Loman said.

Organizers decided to bring the training to county students.

They picked a curriculum, Safe Sitters, that was started by an Indianapolis pediatrician after a friend’s daughter choked when with a caregiver who didn’t know how to react in the emergency.

Each class, offered quarterly at one of the branches of the Johnson County Public Library, is a bargain compared with other classes, said Amy Dalton, instructor with the White River Township branch. The next class will be offered in October.

The $25 fee pays for the Safe Sitting handbook. All other expenses, such as staff costs and building use, are covered by daily library operations, Dalton said.

A recent class at the Franklin library was at capacity with 10 students enrolling and earning their Safe Sitter certification.

Their day started with how to run a baby-sitting business. They were instructed on everything it would take to run the business from how much to charge and how to get jobs.

Students were even taught how to relate to their clients, Dalton said.

“We teach them how to shake hands and phone etiquette,” she said.

Sherry clutched both a baby doll and a doll that was the size of a toddler to learn how to save both an infant and child from choking.

The tween also learned what to do in an emergency and how to handle situations, such as an unlocked gun cabinet and what to do if a child in her care hurts themselves.

“The key thing is to stay calm and comfort the children,” she said.

If you go

Want to learn to be a better baby sitter? The Johnson County Public Library is offering Safe Sitter classes.

Here is the info on the next one:

When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 10

Where: Trafalgar branch of the Johnson County Public Library, 424 S. Tower St.

Cost: $25.

How to register: Parents can pick up and fill out a registration form at any branch of the Johnson County Public Library.

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Magen Kritsch is an editorial assistant at the Daily Journal. She can be reached at or 317-736-2770.