These guidelines represent the minimal acceptable standards for selecting a responsible babysitter. They were developed by professionals in collaboration with the community. Remember, these are only guidelines. There may be some situations within these guidelines when it is not safe to leave a child with a babysitter. Parents are ultimately responsible for making decisions about their child’s safety.
- Generally, age 13 is the minimum recommended age for a babysitter. In making decisions about who is an acceptable babysitter, consider not only age but maturity.
- The physical environment where the babysitting takes place must be safe.
- The babysitter must possess a level of maturity necessary to applying solid judgment and decision-making skills. There must be no emotional, medical or behavioral problems affecting this ability.
- The length of time, number of hours, age, and number of children and the time of day must be consistent with the sitter’s age and ability. As the age and level of maturity of the babysitter increases, so can the level of responsibility.
- The sitter should have access to a responsible adult who can offer assistance if necessary.
- The babysitter must know how and when to summon help and have a safety plan for what to do in emergency.
- Is the sitter comfortable around children?
- Does the sitter have experience with children?
- Does the sitter possess basic childcare skills?
- Does the sitter know basic first aid and CPR?
- Does the sitter show a responsible attitude?
- Has the sitter demonstrated responsible behavior in the past?
- Could the sitter respond to any special medical needs your child may have?
- Does the sitter have references? Have you checked them out?
Before leaving your children with a babysitter, have you:
- Informed the sitter of your family’s safety plan for emergency situations and ensured that the sitter is able to carry out the plan?
- Made expectations for food preparations and the bathing realistic?
- Left a place and phone number where you can be reached?
- Reminded the sitter to limit personal phone calls and not allow visitors into the home?
Many hospitals, health care agencies, youth groups, community service groups and the American Red Cross provide classes for potential babysitters. Consistent with the Arlington County Child Supervision Guidelines, no child under 16 years old should be left alone overnight. It is recommended that overnight sitters be 18 years or older.
Child Protective Services Hotline
- TTY 703-228-1598