What is the legal age to babysit a sibling?

My 11 year old grandson babysits his 4 1/2 year old brother.

Asked on December 24, 2011 under Family Law, Colorado


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

There typically is no legal age for babysitting in most jurisdictions. However, the children must be safe, and the child in charge must know how to take care of themself and how to handle any emergencies. Many believe that it is perfectly permissible to leave a child of 12 or so alone with a younger sibling for a few hours during the day. However, leaving a child of 11 alone with a much younger child for long periods of time is probably not a good idea. Finally, much depends on the maturity of the child who is babysitting, the area they live in (e.g. is it safe) and does the child being watched have any special needs, etc. For a point of reference, the Red Cross allows 12 year olds to take their babysitting course and, I believe, the military family handbook endorses the minimum age for babysitting at 12.

Bottom line, the question is not is the child old enough but is he/she mature enough? The parents would best be able to judge.

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