Is your child ready to babysit?

Your child is ready to babysit, or at least they think they are. They are wanting to earn some extra money, see a need for a babysitter in your area and are looking to you for guidance. What do you do?

I have had my share of good and bad babysitting experiences over the years. Both with hiring a sitter for my children and having my children babysit for others. This experience is often not as easy to deal with as planned. You want your child to be responsible but you also want to make sure they are safe and being treated fairly. Just like anything else in parenting, communication is important.

We have had babysitters steal money from us, ignore the kids while on the phone all day and even have their parents demand extra pay when pay was more than fair and outlined ahead of time. We have also had sitters who were kind, caring, helpful and my children loved having them around when possible.

Two of my kids have cared for other peoples children over the years. We have been very fortunate to have had all great experiences and we look forward to more.

Discuss with your child what you expect from them when they are babysitting. Talk about how much they should charge and what duties they should be doing while sitting. Will they be picking up the child from school? Will they be putting them to bed, cooking, cleaning or helping with homework? How long will they be babysitting and how many children will be in their care? All of these factors will determine price and your child’s age and maturity will determine what they can do.

Before even getting to the point of babysitting there are a few things you and your child need to do. Below are some things to consider having covered. I know as a mom hiring a young teen I look for these.

Babysitting course

The Red Cross and other community agencies often offer a babysitting training course for children aged 12-14. This is an introductory course that teaches them the basics of caring for younger children. Taking this course gives them a realistic idea of what is expected of them. These classes are very affordable and often offer subsidy for anyone who may need it. You can add this certificate to you resume as a reference for employment.

First Aid course

I always felt safer knowing my children had a basic first aid course completed. You never know what may happen when they are in charge and you want them to be prepared. Not only can the children in their care get hurt, but when your child is cooking and cleaning they too may require first aid. Best to be safe!

Cooking class

I personally think a cooking class of some sort is good for all kids. An important life skill many these days do not have. Teaching your child to cook allows them to have more independence and if they are babysitting children for long periods of time, they will need to cook. A beginners class will cover food safety, food handling, stove top cooking and a few basic recipes your child will be able to master in no time.


When hiring a babysitter it is important to have referrals. People who know the sitter and can tell you about them personally. Often for new sitters this is the parents, neighbours or friends. As time progresses and more jobs are complete, a babysitter will build up a list of references they can use. “How were they with your school age child?” “Were they responsible enough to watch over a toddler” “Was your home left in good condition after they watched your children?” Are questions you will want to ask when speaking to references.


Talk to your child about what is appropriate between them and the people they are sitting for. Make sure they know to talk to you if they are being touched in an inappropriate way, taken advantage of time/money wise etc. Never allow your child to babysit for strangers or someone they met online.

What age can your child babysit? Not all children are responsible enough by the age of 12 years, for instance, to babysit other children. It is important to know that there is no age specified by law for babysitting. It is a matter of the parent determining if a teenager is responsible enough to provide a safe environment for their younger children.

Babysitting children that are not siblings, outside the home is different than watching family members within the home. We always started our kids off watching neighbours children when we were home during the day. That way if there was an emergency we were there to help. As your child’s skills and confidence grows they can adjust when and where they watch over other children.

Before accepting a babysitting job your child should 1. Know the family they are working for. 2 Have some sort of training like discussed above. 3 Have clearly discussed what they expect for pay and how long they will be sitting 4. Have a list of emergency contacts.

In my experience babysitters who bring a fun bag with toys, books and games always are a hit. If it is day time and the yard is fenced, playing outside is a great way to pass time and keep children occupied while their parents are away. Make sure your child knows to respect the home they are working in and to clean up any mess they may make while there.

Babysitting is a great first job for many teens and a great way for them to earn some money while learning important skills. Safety for your child and the children in their care is the number 1 priority!

Do you have anything to add? What do you look for in a babysitter? Has your child taken care of others yet?




  1. Robin Masshole Mommy says

    I took a babysitting class in 5th grade and first babysat in 6th grade when I was 11. Now that my own son is 11, I have NO idea what that mom was thinking letting me babysit.

  2. Scarlet of Family Focus Blog says

    My daughter is 10 and I know she is not ready yet but I bet she will be in a few years. I am going to have her take that Red Cross class you mentioned first, if I can find one.
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  3. The babysitting course teaches them so much. What a great article. Definitely speak to your child about what is expected.

  4. I used to babysit all the time when I was in high school. If your teenager is going to babysit, they have to be able to handle stress, that's for sure.
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  5. I hope that my daughters will babysit when they get older. I use to babysit a lot when I was younger. My mother had her own daycare, so that helped out a lot.

  6. I babysat since I was 11, I never took a course, but I think I should have. These are all great tips to remember even when you are hiring a babysitter.
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  7. I remember babysitting for the first time. I don't know if I was really ready. I would have loved to take a babysitting course – and I really should have known CPR!

  8. I started babysitting as soon as I could take the course. I highly recommend having your child start by babysitting for a family they know well (like a neighbour) and for a short period of time. This helps iron out the kinks and keeps some of the stress of starting out at bay. Your child will also be more likely to call for help if needed because they know the people they are working for. 🙂
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  9. Oh my your photo made me laugh out loud! I taught a babysitting course for a few summers, and I am glad that I did. I think it is important before babysitting to know what they are getting themselves into, and have the right tools to not only entertain the children but to be safe and responsible!

  10. This is actually really helpful. My daughter wanted to start doing it when she was pretty young but I had to make sure she was ready.

  11. I think you have several great tips. For us, we just think our daughter is not mature enough to babysit, even though she is old enough.

  12. My kids are still a few years away from babysitting! A babysitting course would be great from them once they are ready to do so!
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  13. This is a a great list for getting kids ready for the responsibility of babysitting. I began babysitting when I was 12 years old.
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  14. AH, I used to babysit three days a week when I was a teenager. Now that I am a mom, I am terrified to leave my kids with a teenage sitter, everything is so different these days! These are great things to look for though!
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  15. Taking care of children can be very difficult! It's important to make sure they're prepared for it!

  16. My Daughter took a baby sitting course when she was twelve. I think it should be mandatory before someone starts babysitting for people.

  17. My eldest daughter can babysit. Last year she had a training and she also helps me take care of my other kids.

  18. When my daughter reaches the age of 12 I am sure she would love to baby sit! I know I baby sat my siblings and made a few bucks from time to time.

  19. I never babysit. Since I was an only child it isn't something that would have come naturally to me. My niece has younger siblings and has been asking to though, so these tips will really help.

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