Guidelines for Selecting a Babysitter
These guidelines have been developed by social work
professionals in collaboration with members of the community. They
represent the minimal acceptable standards for selecting a
responsible babysitter. Remember, these are guidelines only. There
may be some situations within these guidelines when it may not be
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
The babysitter must possess a level of maturity necessary for
applying solid judgment and decisionmaking skills. There must
be no emotional, medical, or behavioral problems affecting this
The length of time, the number of hours, the age and number of
children, and the time of day must be consistent with the
babysitter’s age and ability. As the age and level of maturity
of the sitter increases, so can the level of responsibility.
The babysitter should have access to a responsible adult who
can offer assistance if necessary.
The babysitter must know how and when to get help and have a
safety plan for what to do in an emergency.
Is the sitter comfortable around children?
Does the sitter possess basic childcare skills?
Does the sitter show a responsible attitude?
Could the sitter respond to any special medical needs your
child may have?
Does the sitter have experience with children?
Does the sitter know basic first aid and CPR?
Has the sitter demonstrated responsible behavior in the past?
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
Made your expectations for food preparation and bathing
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
Consistent with the Fairfax County Child Supervision
Guidelines, no child under 16 years old should be left alone
overnight. It is recommended that overnight sitters be 18 years
Fairfax County recommends children be at least 13 years old
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