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Mom's Talk Q&A: Choosing Babysitters

What is the criteria for a practical babysitter?

Although teens of any age may legally baby sit under the Rhode Island babysitting laws, the minimum age for a babysitter should be at least 12 years old, according to the Waltham Fire Department. The site suggests that younger children do not have the physical or emotional maturity to deal with many emergencies that could arise. A good rule of thumb they advise is the younger the children being watched, the older the babysitter should be.  The Red Cross offers babysitting classes to 11-15 year olds.

What is the ideal age of a babysitter? And does the gender of the sitter matter?

Rebecca Says:

It is interesting for me because my older son, now 13, babysits his brothers.  Sometimes he watches them when I am not at home and sometimes he watches them for me while we are together but I am preoccupied with a meeting or something.  But to question if I would have another male babysit my children is different.  I have had males babysit, but they were men that we knew, either friends or family. 

Babysitters that I have used outside of my family and friends have always been female and were utilized while I had to work.  I had two 12-year-old girls babysit for me a few years ago.  They had received babysitting training and charged a higher price than I usually paid, since they were a team.  I thought the idea of the babysitter having her friend over was not the best idea because it would distract her attention from my kids.  My children informed me afterward that they spent the entire time outside playing in the yard while the sitters talked amongst themselves.

I think the qualities of the babysitter are most important above anything else including age, gender, or even training.  The best babysitters have a true love for kids, are attentive, have common sense and resources available in emergencies. 

Cindy says:

I do not think that I would have a babysitter as young as 12, that is me personally... even though I babysat my life away with all my neices and nephews from my 10 older siblings (four younger  but that is a different circumstance. I was so used to having so many children with me from a young age. I am sure there are very capable pre-teens out there as I was.  You have to find the right fit for you and your children. 

It also depends on what they are babysitting for, whether it is during the day, or at night. Will they be putting them to sleep?  You have to have someone who is mature enough to take on the responsibilities.

On the another note, I am sure that a lot of people will give me the cross-eyed look, but definitely not a boy.  Yes, I know alot of great boys, but I do not feel the need to have one as a babysitter. 

Candi June 09, 2011 at 04:46 PM
You’re thinking about hiring someone to look after your child, and you want to ensure that whoever you hire is mature enough to handle the responsibilities of the job. The American Red Cross recommends that a babysitter should be at least 11 years old if she’s attending to an infant. Other experts think that someone who is at least 14 years of age will make a better choice for a babysitter. If you’re merely looking for a mother’s helper who will assist you with various tasks throughout the day while you’re at home, most teenagers and preteens will be qualified to handle the job. If you have multiple children that the babysitter will be watching, greater maturity and capability may be required. Some parents may feel more comfortable with an adult babysitter. Regardless of age, it is best to take the time to talk to a potential babysitter hire, get to know her well enough to determine whether she is a good fit for the job, and ask for and check references. Keep in mind that chronological age and maturity do not develop proportionately for each person. What matters most is the potential babysitter's skills and abilities (which may or may not be reflective of her chronological age)... http://tinyurl.com/3jo4qku

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