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Is It a Good Idea to Babysit 6 Kids at Once?

I’ve been babysitting for 5 months, but I have a problem. I’m going to be babysitting 6 kids! They’re all different ages. There’s a 1-year-old boy, twin girls who are 5, a 9-year-old girl, an 8-year-old boy, and an 11-year-old girl. I really need help! What should I do?
– Grace*

We agree: You need help! That’s a lot of kids for one person to be looking after, even for a sitter who has been caring for kids for a couple of years.

We recommend that you bring along a brother, sister, or friend who is also a babysitter to help. With that many kids, the hourly rate the family is paying should be good enough to cover two babysitters.

Your first step should be to talk to the kids’ parents about what they expect. Let them know that you will need extra help — at least at first. Raising your concerns shows you are a responsible babysitter who is serious about the kids’ safety. You want the kids to have a good experience and get enough attention while they’re under your care. Without the right help, that could be a challenge.

Eventually, once you know the family and the children better, you may be able to look after the kids on your own. The two older kids are probably self-sufficient to a degree and can help out with the 1-year-old and the twins. Also, the little boy will still take naps, which could make things a little easier if you’re sitting during those times. But, to start with, the best idea is to get help.

It also might help if the family you’re sitting for lives close to your own home. It can be reassuring to know you can reach out to your parents or other family members for advice if you need it.

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

*Names have been changed to protect user privacy.