should 11 year olds be able to babysite babys?
Ev - posted on 09/13/2014
I will have to agree with the others: A definite no. As a helper where there is help around the corner in the SAME building or home is one thing but left alone even for up to a half hour is another. A lot can still happen in that short time frame and I do not care if the child is under the age of one or up to the age of five. Eleven year old children, even mature ones, are not always best judges of situations and in the case of an emergency, even knowing what to do and how to do it does not mean the child is going to be able to perform the actions needed to keep a baby or preschool age child safe. He or she might just freak out themselves. Again, the law may not state ages, but where I live most kids are not allowed more than a few hours alone such as after school ate the age of 12. Staying alone overnight is not until after the age of 16 with younger siblings in the home and that is ONE NIGHT. Most kids today are not taught responsibility or act mature enough even as teens. Their idea of watching or caring for the younger kids might be totally different than the parents idea.
This is my assessment. This is my opinion. I was lucky in that my own two kids were mature enough by certain ages to stay alone for a few hours and babysit. My daughter was very mature for her age and at 15 she watched her brother while I was at work in the summer. She got paid. She even cleaned the house. When my son got older, he could stay alone for short periods of time and now he is 17 and almost out of school. He knew what he could or could not do and also what to do in an emergency and I could trust he would do as he needed to do because he has a level head.
Chet - posted on 09/13/2014
It's true that the laws vary by state, and some states probably have specific laws, but more frequently laws don't specify an exact age.
Things like child endangerment or child abandonment need to be assessed on a case by case basis. If you say that a child is legally allowed to be responsible for another child when they are 10 or 12 or 14 it's possible to have a law that will permit very bad situations to continue. So more typically, laws just require evidence that the needs of the children were not met or that reasonable safety was not maintained.
There is a big difference between leaving a 10 or 11 year old at home with a napping baby you don't want to wake while you're gone for 15 minutes to pick up another child from a play date, and leaving a 10 or 11 year old home with a baby for a whole day, or overnight or all weekend.
I think it's interesting that so many people are vehemently opposed to 11 year olds babysitting infants. A baby is way easier than a toddler or preschooler! What exactly do you think is going to happen in 30 minutes or an hour with an 11 year and a 3 month old baby, assuming the 11 year old is responsible and experienced with infants?
Guest - posted on 09/12/2014
Legally speaking....nope. The laws vary in each US state, but I think the minimum age a child can be left in charge of another child in all US states is at least 12, most are 14, and a few are 15 and 16.....I think. There used to be a chart you could look up online.
That said, and 11 year old would make a wonderful "mother's helper" and that position would provide a lot of beneficial experience for when he or she is old enough to actually babysit on his or her own.
Dove - posted on 09/12/2014
My daughter at 11 could handle half a dozen 1-2 year old kids on her own... but the parents were on the property (church 'nursery) if they were needed for any reason. She could also watch her 5 year old brother for a couple of hours alone.
At 13... I still wouldn't leave her w/ an under 1 year old for any length of time (maybe a half an hour to an hour if 'I' had an infant... but not w/ the infant of a non family member). She is very mature and responsible as mentioned in my first paragraph... but just... no.
Chet - posted on 09/11/2014
Our oldest daughter's best friend is 11 and has a baby brother. I would have no problem leaving an easy baby in her care for a fairly short period of time. She's extremely competent. A 12 hour day, no. Two hours where the baby was asleep, might wake up and need a diaper change, and where help is close by if there's a real emergency? No problem.
On average though, most 11 year olds don't have the experience necessary to care for a baby. I only know a couple of kids that age who've been exposed to babies and are comfortable around them.
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