How young is too young to babysit?

April - posted on 05/07/2010 ( 24 moms have responded )




Ok, so I saw this flyer in my neighborhood and this 12 year old girl in the 7th grade was looking to become a babysitter. She introduced herself as Audrey and explained that she is a very "mature" and "responsible" seventh grader who makes straight A's. She mentioned that she enjoys taking care of small children and would like to provide babysitting services after school and over the summer to busy parents.

I'm curious to know what you all think? Is Audrey too young to watch your children? If she is...why do you think so? If you believe that she isn't...then how young is too young in your opinion?

*** son has never had a sitter that wasn't his grandparent or his father. I am uncomfortable letting even an adult (non-familial) watch my child.


Lady - posted on 05/09/2010




I have checked and although legally there is no age limit in UK for babysitting or being left on their own the NSPC recomends that no one under the age of 13 be left unsupervised and no one under the age of 16 be left to look after anyone else.
It's recomendations that I completely agree with - to me not only should the 12 year not be babysitting but she actually needs a babysitter to look after her - my son is 12 this year, he is mature and responsible in many ways but I would never get him to look after any of his siblings not even my 9 year old.
What if something was to happen to the child or children left in the 12 year olds care? How on earth could you expect them to cope and then live with that guilt for the rest of their lives, they are just children themselves and have no idea of what the responsabilty of looking after another person really means. It's not just a case of playing and putting to bed - babysitting means that you have taken over the role of mummy and no 12 year old is redy for that!!! If you leave your child with someone of that age then I think it's extremely irresponsable and not only are you putting your own children in danger but you are also endagering the child you are entrusting with the lives of your most precious gift.

April - posted on 05/09/2010




@Gillian...your post made me think about what if something terrible were to happen that would lead a 12 year old to feel guilty for the rest of her (or his ) life? i wouldn't want to put that kind of burden on a kid!

[deleted account]

I started babysitting when I was 13 or 14 (I can't really remember). I took a babysitting safety and training course at my local community center. After I got my certificate, I was put on a list of "certified babysitters" in my area. Parents needing a sitter would call into the community center and leave their info (phone number and address) along with what time, day, and how many kids (+ ages) they needed to be watched. The center would then call whoever was next on the list (they went down the list to give everyone equal chances at the jobs) to see if they wanted to job. If we did, we got the info and called the parents to set everything up. I often babysat for people I didn't know using this system and I never had any problems. I know the parents felt better about leaving their kids with me because I had taken the course and I realy enjoyed having a little extra pocket money. Also, if a parent really liked you and the kids did too we were allowed to give out our personal info for repeat sitting on our own.

The youngest you could be to take the course was 13 or 14 (I know I took it right when I was able to) and you had to have your parents sign something saying that if your grades dropped or anything you were pulled out of the course or off the list. The course was 6 weeks long and covered pretty much every scenario that a babysitter could face. It was a great course and I sure hope they are still doing it!

I have never left my kids with anyone other than my parents or my MIL, but if I ever thought about it I would call my local community center to see if they have a prgram like the one I went through.

I do think 12 is too young though... I think I would be more comfortable with someone 16 or older (because if they needed to take the kids to the ER or anything they wouldn't have to call and wait for an ambulance). I understand there are some very mature 12 year-olds out there (I was one of them!), but I just can't imagine being comfortable trusting someone who was 12 years old to watch my kids (I know I know, I did at 13, but that was then, before I had kids!).

[deleted account]


If you want to continue debating this topic please start a new thread.


Amber - posted on 05/10/2010




I think 14 and older for children older than the age of 2 would probably be ok. But my mom lives less than 5 minutes from my house and I'm very close with my neighbors. So. they would never be expected to react to an emergency on their own. It would depend on the person though.

We have a 17(now 18) year old girl watch our child sometimes. We're only out for a few hours and her parents live 2 doors away from us. So, if anything were to happen an adult would be there within 60 seconds. They check in with her regularly when she is here and we have an alarm system so she knows she is safe inside our home.

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Lisa - posted on 03/28/2011




I'd say she is on the very border of being old enough. I think that I would offer to pay her the going rate for sitters in your area for 2 hours then with her knowledge stay home and out of the way watch and see how she interacts with your son. In addition ask her for one or two references.

[deleted account]

Oh I'm with you Gillian! My son is 12 and I would never leave my younger children in his care. Heck I just started leaving him alone at home for very short periods of time. First of all how many kids are going to take a 12 year old seriously? They are still children themselves and more of a play buddy than anything. I have however allowed a 13 year old to babysit my son when he was little with her mom at their house. She was learning to babysit and I thought there was no harm as long as her mom was there and they were family friends so I knew them well.
However I remember babysitting at 12! I was responsible and it was only in my neighborhood where I could easily phone my own mom to help or get advice. I had taken a course and had first aid and all that. I also watch a 4 and 6 year old all summer at the age of 14.

Amy - posted on 05/10/2010




I think that to become a certified babysitter you need to be 16 years old. I would never let any child watch my children that wasn't a certified babysitter.

[deleted account]

It depends on the age of the child being watched. I let a 14 year old watch my 5 yo son occasionally, but she is mature and sensible. I wouldn't let a boy of the same age or someone I didn't know do it though. There's also some adults (sadly some who have kids of their own) that I will never leave my child alone with.

Emma - posted on 05/09/2010




I let my niece babysit my kids when she was 16, but she's family and i trust her as she is very responsible.
Myself and a friend used to look after kids in our street when we where 15 but my or her mom where always just a couple of houses away if we needed them. which i think put the parents at ease.
to me 12 is to young to be left alone looking after someone's kids, but as a mothers helper that's an ok age

Amy - posted on 05/08/2010




I just have a personal rule that they have to be sixteen and able to drive in case my kid broke an arm and had to go to the hospital or something. I do know that I have met twelve year olds more mature than thirty year olds. Maturity doesn't have an age, but I'd test the waters and just leave for a short time and see how it goes.

[deleted account]

I think 12 is ok for a baby at least 12 months or older. Maybe have the girl over for a couple hrs supervised. Then you could see how she interacts with the baby......

I started b-sitting at 11 & I was watching my older sister's 4 month old baby.. I did fine. But that is too young of a baby...

Brittany - posted on 05/08/2010




My boys are 10 months and 2 years. Most of the time it is my mom or my mother in law that watches them for me. Every once in a while my grandparents will watch them (they live right down the road and are still very capable of taking care of them). On a few rare occasions, my younger sister (14) has stayed home with my 2 year old (but I am never more than 5 minutes away). I personally would not let anyone that young watch my kids unless I knew them (basically my younger siblings).

I have been blessed and will probably never have to hire a baby sitter. But if I were going to, I think I would have to make sure that the person could drive, had a good driving record, was very responsible, and I would probably have them come over a few times with me home just so they could get to know my kids. : )

Nikki - posted on 05/08/2010




Once upon a time I would have said yes, because I was babysitting by about the age of 12, all night stays for some parents.

However becoming a parent has turned me into an over analytical paranoid Polly. I think that 12 is to young in today's society.

A 12 year old is too young to deal with the responsibility of looking after someone's life, which essentially is what babysitting is.

It's all well and good to say they might be responsible for their age, but really how much life experience has a 12 year old had, enough to know what to do if the child is left for 5 minutes and found face down in the pool, if the house catches on fire, if there is an intruder?

As a teacher/carer myself I know how much responsibility is involved in looking after someone else's children, I have done things I never thought I would be capable of doing like putting myself in harms way getting a baby away from a brown snake, dealing with a child who literally ripped half her mouth off on a play ground, dealing with children who have had severe unexpected allergic reactions.

Now yes I am talking the worst case scenario here and dealing with such large volumes of children as I have it is of course more likely that these types of situation have arisen. But what if?

As a parent could you live with yourself if the worst happened and that mature 12 year old wasn't mature enough to handle the worst?

I couldn't, but that's just me, may be because I have seen so many scary situations I am more prone to being paranoid.

Jenny - posted on 05/08/2010




It depends on the individual. If you feel comfortable then try it out and if you don't, then don't. I was babysitting at 12 and was certainly responsible about it.

Charlie - posted on 05/08/2010




I was getting paid to babysit at 12 years old .

Id had experience with minding over 7 children regularly and knew what i had to do in case of emergencies , most of the time dinner would be ready but sometimes i would cook too .

I guess its where my love for education and teaching children came from , it was always for friends of the family , no strangers so they knew me well .

Lady - posted on 05/08/2010




In the UK it illegal to look after a minor until the age of 16, so yes I think 12 is far too young, Personally I would never trust a teenager to look after my children. I just don't think they are nearly responsible enough, I know there are some responsible teenager out there but it's just not a chance I would be willing to take with the most precious gifts I have ever been given!

Heather - posted on 05/07/2010




no way, I dont think a 12 year old is mature enough to handle small children...a 12 year old is still a child. I dont even trust most adults with my 1 yr old.

[deleted account]

I know one 12 year old that I would let watch my child. She has a younger sibling she watches and 3 nieces and nephews that she watches. I've known her most of her life and we are close with her family. I would trust her to babysit for a couple of hours during the day. As it is now, she watches my daughter in the church nursery from time to time. She's also watched my daughter while I ran errands and my husband was outside doing yard work. I would let HER babysit. But she is the only 12 year old I would let do that.

[deleted account]

My husband said he would let a 16 yr old watch our almost 4 yr old but not our 7 mos old. I kinda agree. I would let my son watch his brother when he turns 12 (that would make his brother 9). I was watching my siblings @ 12 & watched my mom's coworker's kids once (5 & 8) they were awful and I never watched them again! I was 14 when I watched my Dad's girlfriend's grandkids (2&4?). I'd have to know these kids b4 I'd let them!

[deleted account]

I would hire her as a mother's helper at 12. I have a similar neighborhood kid who comes in and watches my son while I work from home about 2-4 days a month. She is a little older, but I probably would have hired her at 12; I think she was 12 when she started.
As for watching my son when I am not with him, I will only allow a licensed caretaker to watch him. She must be current in her child's CPR cert and up to date in her licenses. She MUST have a current SC state driver's license and a good driving record (no more than 1 offence in the past 3 years), pass a background / SLED check, and provide 6 references who are not related. To date, I haven't found any qualified teens, but if I do, as long as they are old enough to have been driving for 3 years, I think they would be old enough (I think that is 18 in my state).

Meghan - posted on 05/07/2010




I am dead set against anyone under 19 watching my son...and even then I have to know the person. My ex always said his 12 year old nephew (who had taken the course) should watch our newborn...really what a 12 year old do if something SERIOUS happened-training or not?? And not even newborns, think about the stuff that toddlers get into and the crazy stuff some of them do. 12 year olds are easily distracted and hate to say it, but psycologicaly they are at a selfish age! There are responsible kids out there! I was one, I started babysitting at 12 and I practically helped raise my neices and nephews. But looking back, those mom's must have trusted me a lot because 12 is just too young!

[deleted account]

I would only go for that age if I needed a 'mother's helper' while I was going to be home or having them all w/ me out in public (an extra set of eyes would be helpful at times..). The youngest person to ever watch my girls was 16 (they were 3) and she was well known to us through our church. I wouldn't be comfortable leaving them w/ anyone younger and only 3 people (each of my parents and one of my best friends) have ever watched my son w/out me being on the same property at the time.

That being said... I may get to a point where I leave my preteen/early teen girls w/ their brother for very short periods of time. Seeing as how they are only 8 at the moment I can't say for sure. They already 'babysit' him while I take a shower, etc... and are great w/ him. Not sure when I would be comfortable leaving even just them home alone though. Not for several more years....

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