Good Question: What Age Is It OK To Start Babysitting?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Summer vacation means more free time for kids, and more parents looking for someone to watch their kids.

Occasionally parents need a time-out for themselves, which is when a qualified babysitter can capitalize.

Toni Schutta is a parent herself and founder of the company “Get Parenting Help Now.”

She says the Red Cross offers babysitting classes starting at age 11.

“Honestly, I would opt for those older middle school kids, high school kids,” Schutta said.

But she says there’s no set age. If someone under age 11 has had training and is mature enough, they might be a good babysitter.

“What ages of kids have they had experience with? Do they have references, or have they volunteered maybe at a church or synagogue in the nursery?” she said. “But … we want them to have some experience and you check their references.”

And do they know who to call in case of an emergency? It’s the same thing a parent may ask their own kid when leaving them home alone for the first time.

Schutta says some kids are emotionally ready to stay home by themselves at age 10, but they have to start slow.

“Start in little increments, 30 minutes. You go to the grocery store, you come back. If you go for an hour, you do a 30-minute check-in to see how they are doing,” Schutta said. “And then you can expand from there.”

In Illinois, it is actually illegal to leave a child under the age of 14 at home alone for more than 24 hours.

For some guidelines to go by, here are a few from officials in Washington County.

More from John Lauritsen
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