How Old Do You Have to Be to Babysit?

How old do you have to be to babysit?

Babysitting is a great part-time work choice for young teenagers — most states won’t allow kids to work until they are a certain age, usually between 14 and 16 depending on the state. However, if you want your child to make a little extra money while learning work ethic and probably having a good time to boot, babysitting is a viable and legal career option.

There is a consensus among people hiring babysitters that the minimum age is about 12. That’s the age at which a child seems able to handle emergencies by calling the proper authorities and to maintain some sense of authority. Every person hiring a babysitter will have different opinions on this. Let’s take a closer look at specific babysitting situations and determine what a good minimum age might be.

Older Children

If you are looking to babysit for older children, say from age 10 and up, you will want to be much older than the child. Depending on the length of the sitting, you should be about 4 years older than the older child you’re sitting for. For instance, if the parents of a 10 year old are going out for a movie and want someone to watch the child, a good minimum age for a sitter would be 14. This age changes greatly if you’re talking about a long-term sitting. If the parents of an older child are looking for a live-in babysitter (to watch their child while they’re on vacation for instance), the babysitter should have a driver’s license — meaning that in most cases the sitter should be at least 16 years old.


Good news for those of you wanting to start babysitting right away — if you’re actually looking to take care of babies (under the age of 2 or 3) you can get away with being a bit younger. Girls around the age of 10 or 11 are sometimes capable of taking care of a baby especially if they are mature or have some experience looking after babies. Because babies of this age are simpler to watch — not running around or getting in trouble outside of the house — a younger babysitter is capable of handling the sitting job.

Be careful when agreeing to sit for an actual baby. Sometimes babies have more difficult health issues that need taking care of, so make sure you know the emergency numbers, the baby’s doctor’s number, and have someone nearby like a parent or older sibling in case you need use of a car. Remember that sitting for an infant often means changing diapers and doing other tasks that may not be so appealing.

In general, before a child can begin babysitting, they should be mature enough to take care of their own needs, be able to put together simple snacks, pay attention to parental demands like bed times and any housekeeping that is required, and have the blessing of their parents.

Babysitting can be a great way to teach a child about the responsibility of having and keeping a job. If you’re interested in babysitting, make sure you can perform all the duties required before you take on something that’s too big to swallow.

This is part of a series of posts we’re publishing about how old you have to be to do certain things. Other posts in this series include:

You might also be interested in this other page about how old do you have to be to babysit in general.