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Babysitter Safety - What Parents and Sitters Need to Know

How do I go about choosing a babysitter?

What do I need to tell the babysitter before I leave?
Your sitter will need lots of information from you before you leave.  Allow enough time to go over the information with them, show them the house, and answer any questions. You can start with this handy fillable pdf form and add additional instructions and information, as suggested in the following list:

What does a babysitter need to know about safety?

Sitters who know and follow these guidelines will be highly respected by parents, and always in demand.

Where can I get more information about babysitting?

Parents may want to refer their sitter to this web page, or print this information and give it to their sitter ahead of time, so the sitter is aware of the level of professionalism expected by the parents. Sitters who know and follow these guidelines will be highly respected by parents, and always in demand. A child who will be home alone should also be familiar with all the babysitting safety information.

Does my child need a sitter?
Most states do not have laws about the age at which children are allowed to stay home alone or to babysit other kids. There is no set age at which all kids are ready to stay home alone. You know your child best. Consider factors like:

Moving your child to this level of independence is a process. Start by reading this: Is your tween prepared to stay home alone this summer? If you think your child is ready, you can make sure they know all the important safety and house rules. You can use the babysitter resources above as a starting point. Talk to your child about their feelings about being home alone. Start small, with short periods away, and gradually increase the time you are away if everyone is comfortable with it.

For more information on Children Home Alone and Babysitter Age Guidelines, this page from the National Child Care Information Center is useful. It lists some local community guidelines as examples of appropriate ages for being home alone. Basically, if your child is age seven or younger, they should never be left alone. Kids ages 8-10 can be alone briefly, and ages 10-13 for longer periods, provided there is back-up supervision. Babysitters should be at least 12-13 years old, and can babysit for longer periods as they grow older. Again, this is a very individual decision, and these ages are only general guidelines. You need to decide if your child is mature enough.

What do I need to know about having an older sibling sit for my younger kids?
If you plan to have your older child babysit for your younger children, it would be a good idea for them to take the American Red Cross babysitter class and become familiar with all the information above.

How can I find out about other forms of child care?
Visit YourChild: Child Care

Written and compiled by Kyla Boyse, RN.  Reviewed by Leena Dev, MD.
Updated june 2011

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U-M Health System Related Sites:
U-M Pediatrics

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