Staying home alone — The Bump
School-Aged Children

Staying home alone

Have you left your child home alone yet?  At what age?

Does your state have any specific requirements for this?

My middle child is now 10 and we are thinking about letting her stay home alone on occasion for up to an hour or two.  She really wants the responsibility and its rare for her to ever be alone as the middle child.  DH and I are still in discussion.

We allowed her older sister to be home alone at that age for brief periods, up to an hour or two when I took the younger ones grocery shopping 2 miles away, but that child is much more mature. She now babysits for us and others as she's mature and responsible. Our oldest will be 13 this week and her first paying babysitting jobs last week.

What have you heard about this in your community? 

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Re: Staying home alone

  • Some states have laws about this.  I was surprised to find that my state's law was that kids could be left home alone at the age of 8 as long as they're not left in charge of a younger child.  They have to be 12 to babysit a younger family member where I live.

    I say know your kid and start out with short outings during the day, working up to longer outings and babysitting a sibling.

    When my DD was 10.5, close to 11, we began leaving her home for short stretches.  When she was in 6th grade -- almost 12 -- I began letting her stay home during the day if she was out sick, as long as she wasn't SO sick that she needed me. 

    Once she turned 12, she was legally old enough to babysit her brother. As you probably know, putting two kids together at home ups the chances for problems and requires a higher level of responsibility in the kids.  We will leave them home together while we run errands or go for a bike ride.  Usually this is during the day.  Now she's almost 13 and he's almost 9.  We have left them in the evening a few times, and we are working up to leaving them to fix their own dinner while we go out. 

    High School English teacher and mom of 2 kids:

    DD, born 9/06/00 -- 12th grade
    DS, born 8/25/04 -- 7th grade
  • I think 10 is way too young to be home alone for one to two hours. If you feel tr need to start now I would do 30 min tops for the first year. I agree that 12 is a more common age.
    Jen - Mom to two December 12 babies Nathaniel 12/12/06 and Addison 12/12/08
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  • Our state has laws that are WAY over the top IMO.  I much prefer no set age law and discretion if there's a problem (a parent can still be charged with neglect whether there's an age requirement or not!). 

    A parent knows their child best for whether or not they're ready for the responsibility of staying home even if only for a couple hours.  Some kids are ready early, others, not so much... And then there are those even as adults you wonder how they could/should ever be left alone LOL

    Baby Birthday Ticker Ticker Baby Birthday Ticker Ticker
  • My are too young still but I honestly am not sure on age.  I really feel that it will vary based on the child.  My one niece is 12 and just in the last year, she has been left home alone for short time frames - an hour or two.  She does not really love it though and has asked that it only be during the day when my sister needs to run a fast errand or she gets home from school and my sister is not home yet type of things.  My nephew is 9 1/2 (10 in Sept) and he is home for a few mins only when my sister takes my niece to the bus or very short things like that.  I am thinking somewhere in that 11-13 age range for them to be totally alone but could see leaving both girls home together for a short time when the younger one is still a little younger than that (thinking 9 or 10) - they are 21 months apart.
    Jenni Mom to DD#1 - 6-16-06 DD#2 - 3-13-08 
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