You need to make a quick trip to the convenience store and ask yourself, “is it wrong to leave my child at home alone?”
The answer to leaving a child home alone while one or both parents are out is dependent on state law.
While it may be okay for your child to be left home alone, this only applies to children of a certain age. Even at that, there are age guidelines for each age range.
You should never leave a baby unsupervised, especially if the room is not baby-proof. Some states allow you to leave older kids home alone, i.e., 11 years, as long as a home security system is installed.
Home security systems and the help parents tend to get from kind neighbors are not enough to justify child neglect. Parents, especially the mom who tends to spend more time with the kids, need to know the laws surrounding child neglect and the possible legal consequences.
Keep reading as we answer several questions asked by parents about leaving your child at home, what ages are okay, and other related questions.
Is It Illegal To Leave A Child Unsupervised?
This question differs from state to state and county to county. For example, some places like California have no state laws in place concerning child neglect.
On the other hand, states like South Dakota and New Hampshire have measures in place to report child neglect and other forms of child abuse and endangerment.
Most states with laws regarding child care have designated persons who are expected to report or risk being charged with a misdemeanor.
Such persons include school teachers, social workers, foster care workers, or any other person with access to children.
Do You Need A Baby Monitor In The First 6 Months?
Baby monitors help you keep an eye on your baby when you may not be close to them, and many parents could use an extra pair of eyes.
However, some parents who already sleep in the same room with their children may argue about a baby monitor being a must.
In the first six months, you would want to get a quality baby monitor. You can tell whether your child needs a diaper change and monitor changes in the room environment. Most baby monitors also allow you to access the video feed remotely, assuming you leave the child home alone.
Most parenting sites advise parents to use their baby monitor until their child turns two to three years of age.
Can You Tap Into Baby Monitor?
You can tap into a baby monitor to access the video feed, as most baby monitors come with features that allow for remote streaming on the app.
You can enable family members who would be around to access the feed and know what is going on with the child from time to time.
Hackers could also take advantage of baby monitors, especially Wi-Fi baby monitors. Once your Wi-Fi password is compromised, hackers may be able to see your child and even talk to them.
Hackers may also be able to “map” the house and strike when your child is left home alone. Baby monitors can be hacked so you have to be aware and take precautions.
Is It Okay To Not Use A Baby Monitor?
Baby monitors are a great addition to baby gear for your little one. However, there are specific criteria that most parenting sites state could eliminate the need for a baby monitor.
Some of those criteria include:
1. Having a small apartment or one without too many floors. The chances of hearing your baby crying audibly in a bungalow are higher than a three-story apartment.
2. You have a specific domestic worker, e.g., a nanny, whose sole duty is to cater to your baby.
3. You have a home security system that can be also be used for baby monitoring.
4. Your child is sleeping in a bassinet in the same room as you.
When Can You Leave A Baby Alone In The House?
You should never leave a baby in the house alone, as babies lack the age maturity and awareness to handle being left alone.
If the baby happened to crawl out of the room and came in contact with a hazard like a cord, the parents are wholly to blame.
Speaking about hazards, ensure your house is baby-proof to minimize the risk of incidents that could harm them. If you have to make a quick stop at the grocery store, make sure there is someone to provide adult supervision.
The person providing supervision could be an older child or a neighbor you trust. If you decide to leave your baby alone at home for whatever reason, getting a baby monitor is one way to keep an eye on your child while you’re out.
The ideal type of baby monitor would be one that allows you to access the video feed via your phone. That way, you can immediately rush back if you sense something about to go wrong.
What Age Is It Okay To Leave Your Kids At Home?
Whatever age you decide to leave your children at home depends on the law in that state and county.
Child Protective Services in each state would have proposed age guidelines that help determine if a child can stay at home with no one to supervise the child.
The guidelines would take certain factors into consideration which include:
1. The maturity level and age of the child or children in question.
2. The safety of the neighborhood the parents reside in.
3. How long the child is being left at home alone.
4. How well the child takes to instructions and working independently.
5. How often the neighbors tend to check in with the children.
Here are the guidelines for kids ranging from age 7 to 17, so you can determine which guidelines to follow for your child;
1. Age 0 to 7: Children who fall within this age bracket should NEVER be left alone without adult supervision. Children between ages zero to seven should never be left in playgrounds and car seats unattended to.
2. Age 8 to 10: Children in this age range should not be left alone without supervision for more than an hour and a half. Children in this age range should not be left alone for that period during the day and early hours of the evening.
3. Age 11 to 12: As for children between the ages of 11 and 12, they could be left alone for up to 3 hours. However, children in this age bracket should not be left alone late at night.
4. Age 13 to 15 years: Children in this age bracket are considered older and more alert to their surroundings. If you have kids between 13 to 15, you may leave them without supervision, but not overnight.
5. Age 16 to 17: Almost aged 18, children aged 16 or 17 can be left at home without supervision for up to two consecutive nights.
Can You Leave A Sleeping Baby At Home?
This question has caused a lot of debates among parents today.
Popular parenting site Mumsnet had a thread removed concerning the question after the thread went viral with over one thousand comments.
Many parents have stated that it depends on the scenario in question, with some still having divided opinions.
For example, some parents said they would never do such, while some moms said they could leave the baby sleeping at home if they had a quick errand to run.
The reason for different opinions could also depend on a scenario that assumes the mom got hit by a car or some unfortunate event happens to her. If this was to happen, then the child is going to be left at home alone, until only God know what happens next.
The best advice would be to ask neighbors to keep an eye on the baby or any other trustworthy adult around. That sounds like the best thing to do in this situation. There is no right or wrong answer, but specific scenarios require more caution with leaving a baby at home.
Again, if your baby is going to be at home sleeping, you want to make sure the sleeping area is free of potential dangers. For example, thick blankets and stuffed animals could cause Sudden Infant Death Syndrome in babies.
Having said that, leaving your baby at home to stop by your store to get supplies for emergency situations is expected. Leaving your sleeping baby at home does not make you any less of a mom if you ask me.
Can I Leave My 8-Year-Old Home Alone In California?
Regarding leaving kids home alone, California has no specific laws in place. However, as stated earlier, certain factors should be considered before leaving a child home alone.
Particular factors like age, maturity level, and any medical issues or disabilities should be considered.
As stated earlier, children between the ages of eight to ten should not be left alone for more than an hour and a half. This applies to the daytime and early hours of the evening.
Can I Leave My 8-Year-Old Home Alone In The UK?
The United Kingdom has no established law regarding which age you can leave children at home. This decision is totally up to the parents to decide, as no one knows their kids better than them.
In the United Kingdom, the National Society For The Prevention of Child Cruelty (NSPCC) has created some guidelines concerning leaving children home alone.
1. Babies and toddlers: Should never be left unsupervised by an adult or a caretaker.
2. Children under the age of 12 (8 years included): Should not be left alone for an extended period.
3. Children below the age of 16: Should not be left home alone overnight.
Whether it’s the mother going out to make a quick purchase of diapers, or the father doing some gardening, it is always a good idea to have someone with your child. Not just anyone, but someone you can trust.
If you’re not going to be within earshot of your baby’s cry and you need to go urgently, then you can consider a long range baby monitor as it would come in handy. Ensure the baby monitor has video streaming capabilities and grants access to the stream to any other trustworthy adult around.
Lastly, inform neighbors if you might take a while with your errand. You can ask the neighbor to stay in the house or drop your child over at your neighbor’s while you get other things sorted out.