How Old Is Old Enough For a Babysitter?

Dear Mamas,
How old is old enough for a babysitter? We have a great family nearby who has a very mature 10 year-old-daughter who loves kids. I have two children, one about to start kindergarten and a 14 month old baby. What do you think?

Hi Anna!

The thing you have to remember when choosing a babysitter is that she (or he) is the one who will be calling the shots if anything AT ALL happens while you are away. If one of the kids gets hurt, or gets suddenly sick, or wanders off, or eats something nasty from under the sink, or starts to choke on a piece of food, she’s the go-to-gal. She’s also the one who will have to take charge if some weirdo comes to the door or the dishwasher floods or a pipe bursts or there is an alien invasion. Well, that probably won’t happen, but you never know.

The bottom line is that you need to know she can handle an emergency, if necessary, and is old enough to do so without freaking out and becoming overwhelmed herself. So age really does matter. And the younger your children are, the older the babysitter should be.

This girl, although too young now, sounds like a jewel in the making, so why not start training her? You could have her come over and be a “mother’s helper” for you on a regular basis and she can watch you in action. She can feed the kids while you supervise, play games with them, change diapers and even put them to bed. Of course you will have to pay her (a percentage of the regular babysitter’s fee) but it will be well worth it.

You might also suggest to her, or her mom, that if she’s serious about babysitting she may like to take one of the babysitting classes offered by the local YMCA or Community Center. They teach CPR and basic child care skills. Then when she’s a few years older you’ll know that she understands how to handle things responsibly with the kids and you can go out with much less worry.

In the meantime, look for a babysitter who is older and has experience. Upper high-school or college age would be good. Ask friends with kids a little older than yours if they have a list of reliable teens or young adults who babysit. Since they’ve been in the market longer than you, they may have some good suggestions. You might even check with the pre-school teacher to see if she or another teacher or teacher’s aid sits.
Good Luck!

Email This Post Email This Post

Ellen W. Schrier, LCSW, is a family therapist and the mother of three adolescent/young adult kids.

Warning: Illegal string offset 'echo' in /home/mamasonc/public_html/mama/wp-content/themes/hybrid/library/extensions/custom-field-series.php on line 157

Leave a Reply




With One or Both of Us

Go to & for the scoop!

Phone • Internet • Your Home or Group

Listen up

The Five Second Rule: True Or False?

If you pick it up within five seconds, you can eat it, right?

Watch This!

Teach your kids to step in and step up when they see a classmate being teased. Show them how to respond and tell them what to say. Let's try to make our world a little kinder and a little warmer. Please?

What You Said

  • FirstBarry: I have noticed you don’t monetize your website, don’t waste your traffic, you can earn...
  • Rebecca Benham: My son woke up with bumps on his stomach help
  • Chelie Belie: AND up the street there’s a psychotic IT that is awe-struck by me! Walks by my property carrying...
  • Chelie Belie: I live next door to Ned Flanders–how would you like that??
  • Maggie sullivan: I have a neighbor, will holler and wave at me if i am near porch but if i try to sit in the yard, or...
  • Ellen Schrier: Thank you so much! Please come back often!
  • Ellen Schrier: Hi Lisa, Sorry for the very late response. We are sorry to hear about your daughter and are sure that...
  • Lisa jacobs: My daughter was in a car accident and now has a concussion. She is plan to go to Mexico City which is a...
  • RF: Well my baby had her first two bottom theeth at 10 months old and i tought so far so good and then now at 11...
  • ofertas cine: That is a great tip particularly to those fresh to the blogosphere. Brief but very precise info… Thanks...

Just so you know

The Mama ButtonThe information provided by MamasOnCall is not intended as a substitute for professional advice, but is for information purposes only. You assume full responsibility for the health and well-being of your family. Talk with your healthcare provider about any questions you may have regarding a medical or psychiatric condition.