Teenagers as babysitters- what age?

(31 Posts)
ProtectiveMother Wed 11-Sep-13 08:38:08

Hi all

I have a 3 & 7 y.o and was wondering, if they were well and in bed asleep, what age is my paid babysitter allowed to be? I know a 12 year old who has just started high school who is v responsible & trustworthy (but prob too young?). There wouldn't be any Childcare involved.

exoticfruits Wed 11-Sep-13 08:53:28

12 is too young. I like them to be 6th formers. Younger would be OK but only if they lived 2 mins away and there mother was in and ready as support. 15yrs possibly- depending on the 15yr old.

purpleroses Wed 11-Sep-13 10:46:12

I might consider a 12yo if their own parents or someone were next door or very close and willing to be called on. Otherwise 14 seems to be the accepted age round here (if sensible, etc obviosly)

Ragwort Wed 11-Sep-13 10:49:40

Totally depends on the individual, I can't imagine many 12 year olds would be really capable of looking after two younger children - you say there is no childcare involved but presumably one of your children might wake up? Would they know what to do in an emergency?

As purple says, if their parents are next door and can be called on it might be OK.

However I know of a situation where an 18 year old (childcare student hmm) was babysitting and didn't know what to do when one of the children was sick, had to call her own mother to help.

When I was 12 I was looking after my cousin who was a few month old. I looked after him til I was 16 and he was 4. This was on a night maybe 3 or 4 times a month.

But I was also used to look after siblings at that age as I was the oldest of 5 by then.

ProtectiveMother Wed 11-Sep-13 13:08:27

There would be no Childcare involved. The girl has younger siblings 3 & 6 and has already minded my kids in the daytime for a couple of hours with her sister (11) (and father in the house.) It would not be for long periods, just 2 hours or 3 hours when kids asleep. They live in the next street and mother would be available but I would not go this route. I would simply have her text or call me in the 5% chance that a child would wake.

ProtectiveMother Wed 11-Sep-13 13:09:29

I was wondering what is legally acceptable.

exoticfruits Wed 11-Sep-13 16:21:45

There is no legal age.

Takver Wed 11-Sep-13 17:53:43

I'd generally say 14 providing you have an adult on call (eg their parent) or are close by yourself with mobile signal.

Takver Wed 11-Sep-13 17:54:11

That's not a legal age, just what I would go with (and what seems to be the norm round here)

flow4 Thu 12-Sep-13 03:40:27

There is no legal age. The NSPCC say "The law does not set a minimum age at which children can be left alone. However, it is an offence to leave a child alone when doing so puts him or her at risk."

No child under 16 can have legal responsibility for the care of another child, so you remain responsible for your children even if you leave them with her and must satisfy yourself they are safe and well. If something goes wrong and your child(ren) come(s) to any harm, you are responsible, not the babysitter. You are also potentially responsible for her if she comes to any harm, since she is in your house and under 16.

The law says you must look after children under 16 in your care, so

AngryBeaver Thu 12-Sep-13 03:55:54

I think that's a bit mean to judge her ragwort?

When a child you are in charge of becomes ill, Inexperience is a scary thing, much better that she asked her mum for help, imo.

AngryBeaver Thu 12-Sep-13 04:08:03

Oh, and I would probably say 17 was an ok age to babysit.
Although I did when I was 12!

livinginwonderland Thu 12-Sep-13 07:56:00

I babysat for my neighbours kids (3 and 5) when I was thirteen. My parents were just down the road though and I was either there during the day or after they'd gone to bed. I never had to do more than play with them, cuddle them if they woke up crying or change nappies.

I think it depends entirely on your kids and how much you trust the babysitter and how responsible they are. There's no legal age for babysitting.

NomDeClavier Thu 12-Sep-13 08:39:12

16 would be the legal age for someone to take responsibility for a child so I'd extrapolate from that and say 16.

12 is too young in 99% of cases, 14 is borderline. Even some 16 or 18 year olds would be clueless, but saying that I also know 30year olds who would be so after a point it's down to character rather than age!

NomDeClavier Thu 12-Sep-13 08:40:49

Besides, a babysitter isn't there in case they wake - it's also in case there's a fire or a break-in. Minuscule chance if it happening, of course, but you'd need to trust a babysitter to be able to deal with that appropriately on their own.

Yonihadtoask Thu 12-Sep-13 08:44:31

I used to babysit for a neighbour's child a few doors down at age 13/14. I was (relatively) sensible though.

I think 12 is too young.

A lot depends on the teenager.

claraschu Thu 12-Sep-13 08:49:31

My 12 year old babysits our neighbour's daughter, who idolises her. I am always home and "on call". They have a wonderful time together, my daughter gets a huge confidence boost (and earns money), the mum gets a great babysitter for a bargain price and I am one minute away in case of emergencies.

LadyPeterWimsey Thu 12-Sep-13 09:23:17

DS babysat our other kids (unpaid) from 14. He is very mature and sensible, we have lots of people he could contact in an emergency, and we would never go too far away. Now he's 15 he has looked after a friend's kids while they were sleeping for an hour or two but not put children to bed and I've been just down the road.

ProtectiveMother Thu 12-Sep-13 22:25:05

Thanks everyone for your comments. They have given me some things to think about. It was just a consideration as I thought it could be suitable but I think I'll just stick with the babysitters I have for the time being.

SuperiorCat Fri 13-Sep-13 09:41:26

Very much depends on the teen and the circumstances.

If they were mature, sensible and had a nearby parent who could be there in a flash if there was a problem then I think age doesn't come into it.

ssd Fri 13-Sep-13 16:33:20

mumsnet is like a parallel universe sometimes

I'd be looking at getting a babysitter for my 12 year old.....

bigTillyMint Fri 13-Sep-13 19:04:57

DD(14) has been doing a bit of babysitting for our NDN's since she was 13 - it was early evening at first and even now they get back before 11. There is always one of us in, but she has not needed us so farsmile

BackforGood Fri 13-Sep-13 19:20:08

My 14 (15 in Oct) yr old dd is looking for babysitting. She's a Young Leader with Scouts, she's first aid trained, she's got loads of experience (and could get references) of looking after people's children whilst they are around, but she's really struggling to find anyone who considers 14 to be old enough. I agree with everyone else. Although there's no legal age, 12 is certainly too young.

purpleroses Fri 13-Sep-13 19:21:48

BackforGod - can your DD approach the parents of the Scouts? That's how I get most of my babysitters. I know they're good with kids and my DCs know them already.

BackforGood Fri 13-Sep-13 20:37:57

hmm - that's a thought purpleroses, I think she'd been offering people we know with babies, but I think with older children you have probably relaxed a bit, so that's a good idea - thank you.

DalmationDots Sat 14-Sep-13 21:57:35

12 is too young.

Minimum 14 but I personally would use someone 16+ and preferably someone I know or know the parents of or have connections to generally.

DD is 20 and babysits for a family with a 14 year old if the parents are going out somewhere further than the nearest town.

DalmationDots Sat 14-Sep-13 22:01:59

BackforGod can she write to her old primary school and ask for her ad to be placed in the newsletter? Or can she make a really good and professional looking notice to hand out on your street explaining all her qualifications.

DD started babysitting at 15 and made her first contacts by going round the local houses with a note, she knocked on the doors, introduced herself and handed over the note. Often the kids would come to the door with the mother and so she could chat to the children to show she is good at building a rapport with the children.
Because she could point to our house and say 'I live just there! and I go to X school' many parents felt like she wasn't so unknown.

chickensaladagain Sat 14-Sep-13 22:05:16

I wouldn't let my 12 yo babysit

It's too much responsibility and not fair on her despite her being very sensible

I've never left my dc with anyone under 16

BackforGood Sun 15-Sep-13 12:44:07

Thanks DalmationDots - unfortunately (for this purpose - it's great otherwise) all our neighbours are retired, except one family who have two older teens themselves to look after their younger dc, but I'll put the Primary School thought to her.

mysteryfairy Sun 15-Sep-13 12:51:26

My DD has just started secondary school and will be 12 in a couple of months. We still use a babysitter for her.

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