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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.

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.