Watching Babies: Babysitting Limits

By Danielle Wirsansky on April 13, 2021

It can be hard trusting another person to watch over your children, but it is definitely something that must be done eventually. Whether you hire a babysitter for a date night or let your child go to daycare or school, someone besides you is going to end up taking care of your child.

Even when parents go to long lengths to make sure they are making the right choice in caretaker, doing interviews, background checks, and more, it can still be difficult to let go and step away, if only for even a few hours. What questions can you ask and what steps can you take to find the best babysitter and create the safest environment for your child and their babysitter? Read on to learn more about babysitting limits!

Photo by Lina Kivaka from Pexels

State by State or Country by Country

An important question you have to ask yourself is how many children do you feel comfortable having just one babysitter watch? Would you prefer a one on one situation for your child? Do you mind if the babysitter watches multiple children rather than one? And how many children is too many children for just one babysitter to handle?

You should definitely come up with your own answer to that question, but you also need to take into consideration the rules your country or state may have in regards to this. For example, in Canada, a babysitter may watch a maximum of five kids OR a maximum of two children under the age of two while in the UK a babysitter may watch a maximum of six children under the age of eight. Of these six children, only three of them can be a “young child.” A child is considered a “young child” until September 1st that comes after their fifth birthday, according to UK law.

Then you in the United States, you have to go on a state-by-state basis to figure out what the rules in your region are for babysitting. Kidsit explains, “As an example, in Florida, a babysitter could watch up to five preschool children but no more than two that are under one year old. They can also watch additional school-aged children up to a maximum of ten. In Michigan, it’s different again. Babysitters need a license to care for children in their own home more than four weeks per year and if paid more than $600 per child in a year.”

There are actually a whole lot more rules than you might have known about or expected regarding these kinds of babysitting limits, so be sure to thoroughly do your own research and make sure that you are leaving your child in a safe and legal situation.

Age/Experience of the Babysitter

Another factor you want to consider when laying down the groundwork for your babysitting limits is the age and experience of your babysitter. There are all kinds of babysitters, from the teenager from down the street that is good with kids to the mum of two happy to look after a third for the night for a little cash or the professional, who has worked professionally in early childhood education.

While the teenager might be good with children (and inexpensive to boot) how many children do you think they could feasibly watch without getting overwhelmed? If the mum of two can easily take in an extra child for the night, how many of your children can she handle on top of her own? Meanwhile, an experienced preschool or daycare worker might have greater experience working with larger numbers of children, according to the state allowed ratios in classrooms for preschool-aged children.

The Behavior of the Children

Finally, you must consider your own children while creating your babysitting limits. Some people have children that follow instruction well, warm up to outsiders quickly, and listen to what they are told. Others have children that are a little bit more spirited and can be quite the handful.

You do not want to put your babysitter at a disadvantage if your children, while charming, are not always the best behaved. Do not set your babysitter up for failure by having them watch more than one wild child (or maybe two). Even if your babysitter can handle them for the night, they might not want to return to your household a second time.

Another consideration may be how well your child or children do in group settings versus one on one. Your child may feel more comfortable or do better in a smaller setting while others might thrive in a larger group setting.

Photo by C Technical from Pexels

In the end, you want to make the best and safest decisions for your child. As a responsible parent, you will only put them with responsible caregivers and avoid dangerous situations. There are plenty of safe, responsible, and gifted babysitters out there and you can find the one that is the best fit for your child and your family.

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