My Sanford Chart allows you secure online access to your personal health information and your child's health information. It's available anywhere you have internet access. There is no cost to you and registering is quick and simple.

Sign Up for My Sanford Chart
How Old Should You Be to Babysit?

How old do you have to be to babysit? I'm 121/2 and my mom said I can babysit.
Myra*

Being old enough to babysit is more about maturity than age. A responsible 121/2-year-old who has taken a babysitting course makes a better babysitter than a 14-year-old who ignores the kids because she's texting friends.

The best way to get started babysitting is to take a course. Check with your local hospital, community center (like a YMCA or JCC), or university to see if they offer babysitting courses. While you're there, ask if there are any age laws in your area. Different states and countries have different rules about how old babysitters can be.

After the course, gradually ease yourself into a job. Ask a friend or relative who babysits if you can go along to help. It's a great way to learn and gain confidence. You also can start out by helping to take care of a child (or several kids) while the mom or dad is still at home. That way, you get an idea of what it's like but the parent is there in case you have a question.

If you do decide to babysit, keep your first job short (an hour or two). It's also ideal if you can babysit for a family in your neighborhood, so your mom or dad will be nearby in case you have any problems or an emergency.

Reviewed by: Kate M. Cronan, MD
Date reviewed: June 2010

Have a question? Ask the experts.

Although we can't reply personally, you may see your question posted to this page in the future. If you're looking for medical advice, a diagnosis, or treatment, consult your doctor or other qualified medical professional. If this is an emergency, contact emergency services in your area.

Kids Health

Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

© 1995-2014 The Nemours Foundation/KidsHealth. All rights reserved.