What Is The Legal Age For Babysitting?

Nanny sitting with child

Legal Age for Babysitting

Most states in the US don’t have a minimum legal age to babysit, except for Maryland (13) and Illinois (14). The appropriate age to babysit is best determined by the babysitter’s maturity, skills and knowledge.

Babysitting is such a great first job for young people. The job offers you some valuable work experience. You can earn money while learning important skills including

  • Responsibility
  • Punctuality
  • Following directions
  • Reporting to others
  • Being organized
  • Reliability

Even though there’s no legal minimum age to babysit in most states, you (and the parents) may be guided by the laws around minimum age for employment and the child labor laws in each state.

Minimum Age for Employment

The US Department of Labor has a Fair Labor Standards Act (The FLSA) that covers wages, hours worked and safety standards for minors (under 18). As a general rule the FLSA states that the minimum age to work is 14. It also limits the number of hours that can be worked by anyone under 16 years of age.

The Fair Labor Standards Act does allow youth at any age to

  • do babysitting or minor chores around a private home
  • deliver newspapers
  • perform in radio, television, movie or theater productions,
  • work in businesses owned by their parents (except in hazardous jobs).

Child Labor Laws in Different States in the U.S.

Although the Fair Labor Standards Act allows youth at any age to babysit, you may also choose to follow your state’s minimum working age. Each state has their own Child Labor Laws covering the minimum age for employment. Below is a table showing the legal age to babysit and the minimum working age in each state.

US State Legal Age to Babysit Minimum Working Age
Alabama No Minimum Age
Alaska No Minimum Age 16 Years Old
Arizona No Minimum Age 16 Years Old
Arkansas No Minimum Age 16 Years Old
California No Minimum Age 18 Years Old
Connecticut No Minimum Age 16 Years Old
Florida No Minimum Age
Hawaii No Minimum Age 18 Years Old
Idaho No Minimum Age 16 Years Old
Indiana No Minimum Age
Iowa No Minimum Age
Kentucky No Minimum Age
Louisiana No Minimum Age
Maine No Minimum Age 16 Years Old
Massachusetts No Minimum Age
Minnesota No Minimum Age 16 Years Old
Missouri No Minimum Age 16 Years Old
Montana No Minimum Age
Nebraska No Minimum Age
Nevada No Minimum Age 14 Years Old
New Hampshire No Minimum Age 18 Years Old
New Jersey No Minimum Age 16 Years Old
New York No Minimum Age 16 Years Old
Ohio No Minimum Age 16 Years Old
Oklahoma No Minimum Age
Pennsylvania No Minimum Age
Rhode Island No Minimum Age
South Carolina No Minimum Age 16 Years Old
South Dakota No Minimum Age
Texas No Minimum Age
Utah No Minimum Age 16 Years Old
Vermont No Minimum Age 16 Years Old
Virginia No Minimum Age 16 Years Old
West Virginia No Minimum Age
Wisconsin No Minimum Age 18 Years Old
Wyoming No Minimum Age
North Dakota No Minimum Age 14 Years Old
Georgia No Minimum Age
Maryland 13 Years Old
North Carolina No Minimum Age
Kansas No Minimum Age
Illinois 14 Years Old 12 Years Old
Colorado No Minimum Age 16 Years Old
Delaware No Minimum Age
Mississippi No Minimum Age
Michigan No Minimum Age
New Mexico No Minimum Age 16 Years Old
Oregon No Minimum Age 16 Years Old
Tennessee No Minimum Age
Washington No Minimum Age 18 Years Old
District of Columbia No Minimum Age

Readiness to Babysit

Regardless of age it's important for you as the babysitter to consider whether you’re ready to babysit. Sometimes, even at 18, you may need more time and experience to babysit well. Job readiness isn’t always related to age. Being ready to be a babysitter involves a range of skills, knowledge and characteristics. In summary the key questions you should ask yourself are:

  • Do I feel confident to have sole responsibility for children?
  • Do I have the right level of knowledge and skills to care for children of certain ages?
  • How many children can I safely and confidently babysit?
  • Can I babysit children who have extra needs if required?
  • Can I manage the hours requested for this role - e.g., late nights?
  • Do I have an 'action plan' for any emergencies - e.g., fire, blackout, medical issue?
  • Do I have the right qualifications (e.g, CPR or First Aid Certificate) and checks?

Questions for Parents to Decide if a Babysitter is Old Enough to Babysit

Given the lack of legal laws around babysitting age, parents should use their good judgment in choosing a babysitter. Parents should interview and reference check the babysitter before booking a date. Things to consider when selecting a babysitter, regardless of age:

  • Are they mature?
  • Are they reliable and responsible?
  • Are they able to problem-solve?
  • Are they skilled and capable with childcare duties? (specifically for the ages and number of children being cared for)
  • Can they manage the babysitting hours? (late nights?)
  • Do they have any relevant certifications? (CPR, First Aid)

When Can You Leave A Child Home Alone?

A closely related topic is when can parents leave a child home alone? Leaving a child home alone is a significant step that should be planned carefully. Parents need to be confident that the child is safe and able to cope with any situation that might arise. Every child and situation is different, so parents must judge case by case when they can leave a child home alone. Experts recommend starting with a small trial (e.g., 1 hour with a parent close by) and build up to longer times over months and years.

In most States the minimum age to be left home alone is determined by the Department of Health and Human Services. This is mostly between 8 years of age (for 1 hour alone) and 16 or 17 years of age (for 1-2 overnights). Only two States specify the legal age to leave a child at home - Maryland it’s 8 years of age and Illinois it’s 14 years of age.

Factors to consider when to leave a child home alone include the

  • Child’s age
  • Child’s maturity level
  • The environment - helpful neighbors nearby or not
  • The circumstances - alone, other children
  • The length of time being left alone
  • Daytime, nighttime or overnight
  • The safety of the neighborhood
  • Arrangements made for the child’s safety (locking doors, able to call for help).

The Best Babysitters’ Policy About Babysitters' Age

To promote child safety, Find A Babysitter has a policy that all carers listed on the site must be 18 years and older. We have chosen this minimum age to ensure that babysitters and nannies found through our platform are mature enough to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the children in their care.