There is no law which states the minimum age that a
child can be left alone but it is an offence to leave a child alone
when doing so puts the child at risk. The NSPCC recommend that most
children under 13 should not be left for more than a short period
and that no child under 16 should be left overnight. They suggest
that parents consider the following before deciding to leave a
- The age of the child
- The child's level of maturity and understanding
- The place where the child will be left
- How long the child will be left alone, and how often
- Whether or not there are any other children in the
Further advice on good practices when leaving children alone can
be obtained by looking at http://www.rospa.com/ or
for babysitting) or by ringing the NSPCC helpline on 0800 800
As babysitters are not "registered" and there are no regulations
to govern this type of childcare, we do not hold lists of people.
However, we do hold lists of registered childminders and some
childminders may be willing to do some evening or weekend
Parents may also wish to find a sitter by asking a friend or a
relative with children for a recommendation or by looking in the
Yellow Pages or searching the web for babysitting agencies.
Should you use a babysitting agency, it is important that you
are clear as to how they vet their sitters, for example, do they
interview and take up references and do they ask for a DBS check
(Disclosure and Barring Service)?
Both the NSPCC and the Royal Society for the Prevention of
Accidents (RoSPA) recommend that babysitters should be over 16
years of age and that parents ask for at least two references and
contact the referees themselves. RoSPA also suggest that parents
complete "risk assessments" and think through all possible
eventualities before leaving their children with a babysitter.
Further tips on good practices when using a babysitter are
available from both the NSPCC and RoSPA - contact details as