Kids Watching Kids: yay or nay?

Across the nation, the age at which a minor can legally babysit varies from state to state. Even so, the majority of states do not have a law or minimum age requirement for child care providers. In fact, only two states do: Illinois and Maryland. In Illinois, minors must be at least 14 years of age to independently oversee and supervise children, while the minimum age requirement in Maryland is 13 years.

Wisevoter, a company that provides citizens with information and tools that "amplify democracy," suppose the two states do so out of concern for lack of maturity and limited life experience.

These age restrictions may be in place to ensure the safety and well-being of children under the care of babysitters, as younger individuals may have limited maturity and experience in handling the responsibilities associated with caring for young children. -Wisevote

It's a "Yay" from Idaho

To be clear, Idaho has no minimum age requirement for babysitters. Gem State officials find no fault with a 12-year-old caring for their younger siblings while mom and dad are at work or at a function. The same would be true if a 12-year-old were being paid to watch to the neighbor's children. And we agree.

Parent Discussion-Turned-Debate

Over the weekend, we were pulled into a discussion-turned-debate over Idaho's position on babysitting. In a group of 11 parents hanging out at a barbeque in Meridian, more than half, ourselves included, were fine with leaving our kids with a sitter between the ages of 10 to 15 years. Parents opposed said kids those ages lacked the maturity and the know-how to care for themselves, let alone kids younger than them.

We respectfully disagree. Instead, we reasoned we grew up watching our siblings and babysitting for other families. Our list of responsibilities included:

  • making sure the house didn't burn down;
  • cooking meals and prepping bottles;
  • entertaining kids with games, books, and crafts;
  • giving baths and wrestling little people into their jammies;
  • and putting them to bed before Are You Afraid of the Dark, Tales from the Crypt, or TGIF turned on.

When someone called asking for the man or woman of the house, we said they'd call them back as soon as they finished cleaning their gun. When the parents arrived home (usually around 11:30 p.m.), we'd collect our $20 and agree to do it again the following weekend.

Parents need to chill! It doesn't matter that it was 1993. We'd let our 12-year-old do it in 2023! Devices like smart phones, Ring Cams, cameras in the house, cameras hidden in stuffed animals, security systems, and Alexa make the choice to allow them to do it even easier.

What do you think of ours and Idaho's position on babysitting? Email us at ryan.valenzuela@townsquaremedia.com.

Keep scrolling for a look at the difference between Idaho and surrounding states when it comes to kids watching kids & leaving kids home alone!

The Truth About Idaho & Surrounding States' Babysitting Laws

While Idaho has its own rules regarding leaving your child home alone, what do the surrounding states' laws say?

What Was the Most Popular Baby Name in Idaho the Year You Were Born?

The Social Security Administration has tracked the 100 most popular baby names for both boys and girls in every state since 1960. Was your name one of the most popular the year you were born?
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