Print    Email
Decrease (-) Restore Default Increase (+)
    
KidsHealth - Teens
Bookmark and Share

How Old Should You Be to Babysit?

How old do you have to be to babysit? I'm 12½ and my mom said I can babysit.
- Myra*

Being old enough to babysit is more about maturity than age. A responsible 12½-year-old who has taken a babysitting course makes a better babysitter than a 14-year-old who ignores the kids because she's texting friends. Being interested in working with kids makes a difference.

The best way to get started babysitting is to take a course. Check with your local hospital, community group (like a YMCA, Red Cross, or JCC), or university to see if they offer babysitting courses. While you're there, ask if there are any age laws in your area. Different states and countries have different rules about how old babysitters can be.

After the course, gradually ease yourself into a job. Ask a friend or relative who babysits if you can go along to help. It's a great way to learn and gain confidence. You also can start out by helping to take care of a child (or several kids) while the mom or dad is still at home. That way, you get an idea of what it's like but the parent is there in case you have a question.

If you do decide to babysit, keep your first job short (an hour or two). It's also ideal if you can babysit for a relative or a family in your neighborhood, so your mom or dad will be nearby in case you have any problems or an emergency.

Reviewed by: Kate M. Cronan, MD
Date reviewed: February 2013

*Names have been changed to protect user privacy.

 
Other Related KidsHealth Articles:
Babysitting Center
Need advice on starting a babysitting business or tips on caring for kids? Want to test your babysitting knowledge and hear how other babysitters do it? This babysitting center for teens is the place for you.
Babysitting: 5 Questions to Ask Before You Take the Job
Knowing what to expect can make your babysitting experience safer, easier, and a lot more enjoyable. Be prepared by asking these 5 questions.
Babysitting: Getting Started
If you're thinking of babysitting, you'll want to know what to expect as well as how to market your services. Get tips here.
Babysitting: Stay Focused and Stay Safe
It's hard to believe some of the trouble little kids can get into - and how quickly. Find out some of the key points for staying in charge in this article for teen babysitters.
Babysitting: The Basics
If you're new to babysitting, check out our guide to learn how to be the best babysitter around. Been babysitting forever? Use the guide to check your skills.
 
Related Resources:
American Red Cross Babysitter's Training Course
Designed for 11- to 15-year-olds, the babysitter's training course can help you care for children and infants, make good decisions, solve problems, be a good leader, and more.