Advice about Having a Teen Sitter

Parent Q&A

Occasional babysitter woes -- could use advice and maybe the BSC Jun 14, 2021 (5 responses below)
Suggestions on rate for mommy’s helper Jan 24, 2018 (2 responses below)
Seniors who babysit? Feb 15, 2017 (1 responses below)
  • Dear fellow Berkeley-area parents,

    I'm feeling pretty frustrated right now and could use some advice. I'm the parent of a 7-old-old and an 11-month-old. The 7-year-old had a wonderful, amazing part-time babysitter from age 2-6, approximately. At that point she left to pursue a full time journalism job. We're still in touch and think of her like extended family. We miss her terribly! In the past we used Urban Sitter to find people to fill in at times when she wasn't available.

    Well, fast forward through the pandemic and having another child. Now that we're vaccinated and hoping to maybe leave the house again, I'm back on Urban Sitter and remembering just how frustrated I've been with it, and with trying to find decent occasional sitters in general. It's not that there aren't good sitters on the platform. There are, and we've even had some of them sit for us. But inevitably as soon as we think we've found a great one that sitter either gets a full time nanny gig and stops doing part time sitting, or leaves the area, or is just constantly booked because other parents realize what they've found. And we've had a lot of sketchy experiences, too. Lately I have felt like bay area babysitting rates are SO high and the demand is SO high that a lot of these people don't have to try very hard -- and don't. 

    And lest you think I'm just stingy and don't want to pay a fair wage, let me assure you that is not the case. I was a babysitter as a teen and a nanny all through college. Not to mention I'm now a mom -- I KNOW it's hard work! For someone whom my kids love and that I trust implicitly? Highest bay area sitter rate, no problem. But I haven't found that. Instead I'm paying very high rates for people that aren't awesome, out of desperation. 

    I'm starting to think it would be better to hire someone with much less experience, like a teenager. Because I'm absolutely willing to train someone, and a lot of my child care needs these days are for help when I'm going to be nearby either working remotely or working on home projects. Back when I was a teenage babysitter I worked for my neighbors. Well, I have no immediate teenage neighbors. Nor do I know anyone with teenage kids. Is there a local chapter of "The Babysitter's Club" I should know about? How does one find the babysitters who are just starting out?

    A second approach I've thought of is to commit to a certain amount of hours a week, find someone to fill that role and hope that that makes them more amenable to taking on more hours occasionally when stuff comes up. Obviously I couldn't expect that person to always be free. The hope would be just that they'd be more likely to say yes given that they'd know the kids and their routines rather than being at the other end of the Urban Sitter connection reading a profile. 

    Any of you going through something similar? Or do you have a list of awesome sitters you rotate through? Tell me your secrets, please!

    Writing just to sympathize.  My kids (2 years apart) are in school now, but when they were young I worked at home part time and it was so hard to find any kind of babysitter.  Basically, most people available during the day are understandably looking for full-time nanny gigs.  Or are they are between things - looking for their "real" job, in school, etc. etc..- so they end up disappearing.  We had a very bad experience with Urbansitter and really good experiences with the now-defunct Swiss Cheese Childcare.  Both your ideas are good - hopefully if you put the word out during the summer you can find a teenager that you can train, but remember that school around here starts in mid-august; a college student might be a better bet.  I think your idea of guaranteeing a number of hours is a good idea too but I don't know what the market/demand for part-time nannies is like these days.  Good luck! 

    When my son was younger, we had a "nanny" for one summer who was a recent college grad. She was super sweet and ended up staying with us for a week or so in between apartments and then I got her a "real" job with a friend's nonprofit. We loved her. I think we found her via NextDoor. You could also try to post to the UC Berkeley job board.

    I would suggest that you post on Nextdoor for a teenager. My teenage daughter found several families close by that she babysat for throughout high school. She generally responded to parents who posted, as I was worried about letting her post and then sending my 15 year old to a stranger’s house, but I know some teens post for themselves that they are available.

  • Suggestions on rate for mommy’s helper

    (2 replies)

    Hi.  I’m a new Mom to triplets and will be returning to work in a few months when they are almost 7 months (actual age). I am lucky to have my mom as the primary caretaker of the babies but she will need help.  I am going to be looking to hire a mommy helper-type person but I have no idea what a reasonable rate for that might be.  It would probably be for about 6 hours a day, 5 days a week.  Suggestions?


    Wow! Congrats. Your mom will need a lot of help. Maybe $18-20? Hope you spoil your mom in kindness, too. 

    I would say in the range of $20 per hour if the person has first aid/CPR certification for infants; $17-18 if not. If you want a good person to give you 30 hours of their week, you will need to make it worthwhile. It will also be important to establish clear lines of supervision/communication with this person and your mom - who is the final say in what happens with the babies when you're not there - the professional or the relative? Who signs the timecard?

  • Dear Neighbors,

    I was hoping you could share you knowledge/experiences with Mother's Helpers. We are considering having someone help us with baby laundry, some light house cleaning and cooking for 2-3hrs three times a week. When looking around, it seems that this falls into the category of "Mother's Helpers".  Has anyone hired someone on this role? How did it work out? Did they come around while everyone was in the house? Or only when the house was empty?  How much do you pay? What is a reasonable pay for this area? (I have found very contradictory messages online as to whether they should be paid more or less than a babysitter)  Has anyone tried having a teenager on this role? Any advice on that?would teen parents support this? Do teens get paid the same as older adults?  And how did you find this person?  Any advice/sharing stories and knowledge/recommendations would be greatly appreciated.  Natalia

    hi - my 13yo daughter is a mother's helper. the family who hired her has a 9mo old and 2 1/2 yo, and met our daughter while she was volunteering at her old daycare. she helps them out 2x / week, each time for 2-3 hrs, with the tasks you mention above. there is usually a parent home, but i think on occasion the mom has left her with one child for a short time. i think the rate should be less than what you'd pay a high school or older babysitter. i'm happy to share more, feel free to contact me.

    We hired someone exactly for this role when baby #2 was born, about 20 hours a week for 3 months. We found her on She was 23. We paid $16 per hour, gave her an extra car we had for her to use (not just st our house) and used miles to get her tickets to Dominican Republic. We did these things bc $16 felt low. She did every chore I asked, was dependable, played with my 4 year old when I needed, and was college educated. 

    I now have a 17 year old and a 13 year old occasionally come play with the 4 year old while I’m with baby, for $10-11 an hour. They only play, though, not clean and with only one kid at a time. 

  • Seniors who babysit?

    (1 reply)

    Curious if anyone knows of seniors/retired people-or an appropriate organization-that might be interested in doing some childcare/mother's helping?  We are looking for in-home help in the mornings for a couple of hours two-three x a week, totalling 7-10 hours, and will be home most of that time.  Thinking that the early hours and low # of hours might work better for a retiree than a pro nanny or sitter.


    RE: Seniors who babysit? ()

    You might want to contact some local synagogues or churches. Also the Berkeley YMCA has a large group of seniors exercising there. It might be a good place to put up a sign.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


High school babysitter for driving kids places in summer

June 2916

Can you please let me know what the going hourly rates are for high school Babysitters these days? I live in Walnut Creek and will be hiring a high school student to babysit in the summer. And curious if anyone has suggestions on how to compensate for times/days they have to drive the kids places (do you just pay more by hour or lump sum, etc). Thanks! MC

I have no idea what babysitting rates are, but I hope you are aware that a teenager under the age of 18 cannot drive with anyone under the age of 20 in the car (unless accompanied by a licensed driver 25 or old) for the first year after he or she gets a driver's license. If you are counting on high school babysitters to provide transportation (and I'm far from convinced that that is a wise idea, but that's your lookout), you need to verify that it will be legal for the teen to do so. AboutTheSame

No current rate advice, but do be aware that if your high school age baby sitter has had a driver's license for less than 12 months, and is not yet 18 years old, they may not drive your children at all. There are also some rules you might want to look up about what kind/how much driving is permitted as part of the job for minors, even with a full license. R.K.

Middle school babysitter for 3rd grader?

Oct 2008

We have a 3rd grade girl and were wondering in this day and age whether a 7th grader is old enough to babysit on a night out (until 10pm say). We are tired of driving our college-age babysitter that doesn't drive back home 4 miles away and we have a great middle school gal that lives about a mile away. I'm sure I did babysitting in middle school, but I can't remember how late. Any opinions? Anon

I started babysitting when I was 10 years old, and at least once, at 10 or 11, I babysat for half a dozen neighbor kids on New Years Eve! I wouldn't hesitate to hire a 7th grade babysitter (assuming, of course, I was comfortable with her maturity level) for a 3rd grade child as long as the 7th grader has some adult backup available in case of emergency. (Can she call her own parents for help if there's an injury or something else she's not sure how to handle? She's more likely to want to do that than to call you. Or, does she know YOUR neighbors, and will said neighbors be home?) As far as how late at night, I would probably check with the sitter's own parents too, to confirm her normal bedtime. Holly

Hi, It's not at all unreasonable to have that age of babysitter/babysittee, IMO. But there's a huge range in maturity and trustworthiness of 7th graders and also 3rd graders, so I think it totally depends on the kids involved.

I've got an eighth grade daughter, a second grade son, and a four-year-old son. I have had my daughter babysit my middle child for a couple of hours at a time when she was in seventh grade (he was in first grade then) and I was totally comfortable with that. But I knew that watching two kids would have been too much for her.

This year she is 13 and is going to start watching both boys for a couple of hours at a time, and (we hope) babysitting for people outside the family. She's really responsible and I totally trust her. (In fact, she insists on taking CPR/first aid training so she knows what to do in an emergency). She has some friends I would also trust, but she has a couple of friends that, frankly, I wouldn't feel comfortable with.

Of course it also depends on how agreeable and obedient your 3rd grader is and whether he/she is likely to challenge a teen sitter. I am a big believer in using young teens for babysitting, as long as you can find the right young teens :-)

Spend some time talking to your babysitter and their parents and observe them with your kid. You can probably tell if it's going to work out or not. Jennifer

i think 7th grade is too young to be left in charge of any child. 7th grade is only about 11-12-13 years old. anon


13 Year Old Daughter wants to Babysit

May 2008

My 13 year old daughter is very keen to start babysitting. Any advice on how to begin this ''profession'' would be appreciated: what experience she should have with children (maybe mother's helper at first?); ages of children appropriate for a (very mature) 13 year old sitter?; how to get the word out (advertisements, going around the neighborhood, etc.); required training (CPR, etc.); and fees charged. Thanks so much! Linda

Both of my daughters did the Red Cross babysitting course at about this age. We all thought it was wonderful. They learned all sorts of helpful things (including how to turn off the water to the toilet if it starts to overflow!!). Recommend it highly - just google them or call the number in the phone book and ask about babysitting training. sitters' mom

How to find a teen sitter?

Sept 2005

My husband and I are in great need of finding a babysitter so we can get out for a date night every now and then. I have posted on the childcare newsletter several times and have gotten very little response. We would like a highschool or college age female who has their own transportation and babysitting experience. Do any of the local highschools and/or colleges have job boards that you can put posts up on for babysitting? When a friend finds someone good they are less then eager to give their babysitter's name over which is understanable, but we really need to get out! Any advice on finding a babysitter other then BPN childcare digest would be so much appreciated. Oh, we live just off of Trestle Glen in Oakland. Thanks in advance! Parents who need a break!

Hi, Ask neighbors. Try Cal Jobs on the UC Berkeley website JM

My sister has found some great teen sitters by advertising at the local Mormon Temple (we're not Mormon). Makes sense to me. Suppose you could extend that approach to any place of worship that has a ''Sunday School'' component to it where teens are involved in childcare. anon


Pre-Teen Mother's Helpers

March 2006


My daughter is almost 10 and a neighbor has offered to hire her as a ''mother's helper'' for the neighbor's almost-2-year-old. This would involve my daughter playing with the neighbor's child while the mother is home. For those of you with experience (on either side, hiring or having your child work as a mother's helper), how old were the helpers typically? Also, what is the going rate for this? My daughter would be happy to do it for free, but perhaps she should charge something so I'd like to find out what other folks are charging. Thanks!

My daughter who is now 20 starting babysitting at 11 yrs. old, having been through 2 Babysitter Classes. If you know the family well and they know your daughter well, an hr. here or there can't will be a great learning experience. As for pay, maybe a couple of bucks a pop...The average sitter gets $6/hr. but that's someone experienced, trained, etc. Good luck kmaz

My daughter is 10 and works as a mother's helper once a week for 2 hours. she gets paid $2.50/hr (she asked for $2/hr, but the neighbor has been paying her $2.50) She only plays with the child, doesn't do any household chores. Of course the parent is ALWAYS there! Deborah

Sept 2005

I'm considering hiring a teenage ''mother's helper'' to play with my generally happy, exploring 8month old while I do work on the computer at home or do other activities that require baby-free time (e.g., stain/varnish furniture). I have a referral for a 14 year old but have not yet met with her. My question - Is it appropriate to ask other duties of a 12-15 year old girl or boy? Mainly s/he should be playing with my baby, but what if at the scheduled ''help'' times my baby ends up taking a nap? Do I send the helper home (with or without pay)? Do I ask the helper to load/unload the dishwasher? Do baby-related chores (change sheets, start laundry)? I realize some of these things would be skill-dependent on the mother's helper, but I wanted a sense from other moms what your expectatoins have been - and, of course, what you have paid the helper. Thanks! wanting a few hours

You can structure things any way that works for both you and your helper, but if you want her to do light housework while your child naps, you should be very clear about that up front. You should also err on the side of caution when it comes to those duties.

Also, if you are hiring the helper for 6 hours a week, you should pay her for 6 hours a week whether you end up using her for the full time or not. If she's setting that time aside for you, she deserves to be paid for it. Sara

I have a mother's helper who comes 3xs a week. She's not a teen, but that's what I was originally looking for. I pay her minimun wage and her main duty is to play with the baby. When the baby naps & when I feed the baby, she helps me by straightening out the kids' room (but I do all the cleaning) and by folding the baby's clothing. She probably has at leat 1/2-1 hour a day of down time after that, but I don't really think it's fair for her to do non-baby related stuff. After all a housecleaner would charge me at least $12 an hour. anon

Hi, we live in the same area (Longridge Road) and we have a wonderful babysitter which I would gladly share since we only go out about once month.

Nov 2003

My 11 year old has been recruited to babysit. She is eager, loving and responsible. She is not doing it alone at this time, even during the day. That means I'm her backup resource. I have no idea what is reasonable for her to charge. It will be a good lesson in learning about money and the value of labor. I hope! Any reference point or thoughts on paying young babysitters would be appreciated. Thanks!

Hi -- I live in Pleasant Hill and use a few 7th graders (11 and 12 year olds) for babysitting in the afternoons occasionally. The going rate here for that age seems to be about $5/hr. For the high school kids, we pay $10/hr (ouch!). Hope this helps! Trish

We had a 13 year old babysitter for our son (12-15 months at the time). The only difference from your situation is that we were home at the time, although there were times later on that she did at times take him to the park around the corner. She set her own price at $2.50 and when she got used to our son's needs we raised it to $3.00. She still works for us now and then but not as frequently since she's back in school.

Others may disagree with me but I think 11 (or 13) is too young to leave with a baby or toddler without the parents home, or another adult caregiver who the child knows and who is familiar with that child. A preschool age kid might be a bit different for short periods of time. Eagerness and even responsibility don't take the place of maturity and knowledge. I know you said you were the 'back-up' but what does that mean? She can call you from the babysitting job with questions? You live across the street from the job and can run right over? You go to the job with her but stay out of the way? Or do you go and guide her step by step? Of course this is between you, your daughter, and the other child's parents. The reason I metion this is that I think the payment to a babysitter would be less if the parents are home than if they're not. Just one perspective. Protective mama bear

April 2002

I'm an expert on nanny salaries (and pretty good on babysitter rates), but I have no idea what to pay an 11 year old who wants to be a ''mother's helper'' - i.e., he will play with my 3 year old while I (hopefully) do other things in the house. Would love to hear thoughts on the appropriate wage. Fran

When my son was nine he worked as a mother's helper and charged $1/hr, but most people paid him $2/hr. Deborah

We have a 12-year-old mother's helper, and we pay her $2 an hour. We sometimes include a little more than this, give her gifts for birthdays and Christmas, take her to dinner it works out to more than that. She has taken care of our cat before and watered our garden when we've been away, and on those occasions we pay her $5 a visit. She's probably due for a raise, come to think of it. Anyway, she's thrilled with both amounts and our son adores her. Carolyn

A neighbor girl (eighth grader) has been a mother's helper to me two hours per week for over one year and I pay her $5/hour. My girls are four and two and they are happy to go off and play with Molly while I work around the house. It has worked out very well for us and she has graduated to babysitting in the evenings (when her parents are home and we are going out locally) after the girls go to bed. We pay a bit more for babysitting in the evenings. It is nice to see the girls forming this strong relationship with a neighbor family and it has created a nice bond between the adults of the families as well. Laura

We paid our 12-year old mother's helper $5 an hour (although we usually rounded up a bit with a ''tip'' as a bonus), and she spent about 10-20 hours a week during the summer with us when our son was 4 to 8 weeks old. It was wonderful to be able to take a shower, answer e-mail, eat lunch, etc. while she held or ''played'' with him. Kristie


Teen sitter for a 3 1/2 month old?

July 2004


Re the following posting: Am I the only parent out here who questions the wisdom of having a teenager, and a virtual stranger at that, caring for a 3 1/2 month old child??? What do others think? ?????

Hi, I have a 3 1/2 month old baby boy & am looking for a reliable teen sitter. I'm hoping to find someone who another mom can recommend to me... we're hoping to hire someone to watch our baby once a week for a date night... Contact: Jennifer

Families have been enlisting the help of older children to help with infant care probably since the origins of family/community life. That's not so strange. In fact, teens have babies of their own quite often and have been doing so, again, since the origins of human time. There is nothing intrinsically wrong or bad or dangerous about a teenager caring for an infant.

My teen would not be the ideal candidate for babysitting an infant. However, someone else's teen might. She/he might even have more experience than many adults, if she has been charged with caring for infant siblings.

Personally, if I were the parent of a 3 1/2 month old infant, again, I would appreciate support and understanding from my community and not a questioning of my judgment based on other's opinions of what is safe or not safe for my child. Just because we *think* something is true, doesn't necessarily make it so. evalynne

It totally depends on the teen. I have seen many teens, myself included - although a long time ago, who can and do babysit a baby of this age with nearly as much expertise, tenderness and responsibility as many moms. It it up to each individual parent to decide what is best for their infant. But IMHO teen babysitters should not be disparaged in this format. Many a mother logging onto this network has used a teen babysitter for a much needed break with no problems.. there are ALWAYS concerns when leaving young children in anyone else's care, even family. anonymous


Teen Babysitter No Show

Oct 2002

Any advice on how to educate teen babysitters on being responsible for: 1) showing up when scheduled; 2) if they can't show up, calling to cancel beforehand; and 3) if they didn't show up, and didn't call to cancel beforehand, returning my call the day after to talk about why they didn't show up and didn't call to cancel?

I'm frustrated, since this has happened more than once. Maybe the parents of teens can help me figure the best way to teach professionalism to a teen. These are teen babysitters who offer their services on the UCB Parents listserv. Your advice is welcome. Rebecca

Wow--I babysat a ton when I was a teen and my mom would have *killed* me if I was that irresponsible. First of all, I would start by deciding to not hire the teen again. Furthermore, if you are able to, I suggest you speak to her/him (or maybe send an email if you have an address) explaining why the behavior was unacceptable and you are unwilling to hire her/him again. If this is done in a non-patronizing and non-angry manner, I think the teenager will hear an important lesson about basic responsibility, even simple courtesy. In the long run, you may help her/him become a more aware and professional young person. Good luck. Elizabeth

Your complaint is familiar to me. We had a wonderful teen sitter who forgot a few times. My husband was very sympathetic to her and told me that it was our responsibility to remind her. So I always called her the day before to confirm/remind her of the time and date. This actually helped immensely. Jennifer


I have just arrived in Berkeley, and I agree it is very difficult to find a babysitter.

The only thing that helped me was asking people in the neighboorhood if there were teenagers who did some babysitting, and we foudn 2 nice girls that way. If you don't know people in your neighbourhood very well, why don't you mention where you live on this web site and see if anyone who lives nearby can help?

Otherwise, the university should be a good source, and putting an ad in the Daily Cal is a good way to find students interested in sitting. Hope this helps.

Using Young Babysitters

Does anyone have any advice or input on the advantages/disadvantages of using adolescent aged babysitters? I have had offers for sitting from 14 & 15 year olds who claim (and parents claim) to be mature and capable of handling my two children. I, myself, babysat young infants when I was approximately 14, but now that it's MY child I feel slightly apprehensive. thanks for your input.

It depends on the babysitter. Every child is different. We have a sitter whose services we started using when she was 14. She is WONDERFUL--conscientious, focuses on the kids, brings things for them to do (she has a kid-kit armed with stamps, sticker, etc. etc). She is down to earth and sensible, and does a really good job. I never worry about leaving my daughter (now 3) with her, since I'm sure that she'll make good decisions, even in the face of trouble.

On the other hand, my stepdaughter, only a month younger than this other girl, was not nearly as good. Some of this was probably the resentment factor. But some of it is just temperament. She didn't want to be bothered to really engage her little sister, and viewed the whole exercise as punishment, even when she was being paid (in currency or by clothes-shopping allowance, etc).

So I don't think there is a standard answer. As with everything involving humans, you'll have to gather the information and make a decision based on the individual characteristics of the person. Good luck! Dawn

My son is five and half and we have been using young sitters for the past year. Both sitters are boys. One is 13 and the other 14. The advantages, as I see it, are that they are close enough in age to my son to be playmates, but tall enough and confidant enough to be authority figures. We know the families of both boys and both live in our neighborhood. We have always told them that if they encounter a situation they don't know how to handle, they should call their parents. Their parents feel fine about this. This lends a feeling of security for everyone. (Remember, even the teenager's parents are wondering if he is ready, can handle himself, knows what to do in an emergency, etc. - to their parents, the child is just past the age of needing babysitters!) Also, my son is not the rebellious type. You might want to run a trial with the teenager and your child when you are home. You can see how they interact and monitor the situation. This way everyone has a chance to check it out. Good Luck!

I would use extreme caution with young sitters, but my strict safety criteria would really apply to any sitter, irrespective of age. Some young folks are more responsible and competent than some adults, as you would expect. Imagine a worst case scenario, then ask yourself if you think the prospective sitter could deal with it. Included events might be a huge, fast fire, a big earthquake, the child choking on a small object which is stuck in the airway, or the child falling & hitting his/her head & losing consciousness, an insistent stranger at the door. I would review those scenarios with a prospective sitter and ask how they would handle each case. Then listen very carefully to their responses, letting them talk rather than asking them leading questions. Would the sitter be able to calmly call 911 and explain the situation or transport the child to emergency? Also, there may be issues with infant care that are different than with an older child. Is there reasonable age-appropriate childproofing in the house? Has the child had limits set on wild behavior? Is the child respectful of sitters? Can the sitter lift and carry the child easily? You want someone calm, mature & thoughtful no matter what their age. Whether I took the word of the sitter's parent about their capabilities would depend a lot on what I knew about the parent. Good luck! Christine

One thing to consider with young babysitters, or even older ones - if you are friends with your neighbors, set up a babysitting date when the neighbor is home and can be called for help an emergency. A backup is a great idea. When I started babysitting at 11, my mother would come help me if necessary. And carry a pager or cell phone so you can be reached immediately.

I'd suggest you try babysitters out! That's what we did with our 14 year-old babysitter before we were happy with leaving her with our young twin daughters for any considerable length of time. We just scheduled a time for her to come one saturday afternoon when we could spend some time telling and showing her all the things we wanted, and then we went out to an early dinner, with my cell phone on for any problems. We called once just to see if things were doing OK. She did great and we now use her as our main babysitter. This tryout let us get to know her some, and of course gave us the option to go out an leave her or not if it seemed like she wasn't right. I know I started babysitting at around 13 when I was growing up, but of course it depends on the person as to if they are mature enough, etc, to make you confident leaving your kids with them.

How Old does a Teen need to be?


What age is considered to be an appropriate one for a teenage babysitter? If the teen is CPR certified, taken a babysitting course, seems keen and responsible, is, say, 14 ok? Also, how long can one expect to have an interested babysitter if we pay and treat him/her well? What is a good 'contract' for hours per week/month? Our family has had a couple of 15/16 year olds who we just get to know and then they are off to 'real' jobs/ social life. All I am looking for is someone to care for and play with the kids (2.5 and 6.5 yrs) while my husband and I go out for the odd dinner -- not every day or late nights. Caroline

In answer to the question about how old a teenager should be to babysit- it depends on the teenager. I actually started babysitting myself when I was eleven, only in the afternoon, babysitting the 3 year old next door while my mother was at home. I was the oldest of 4 children however and had lots of in-home experience. (I know times have changed however).

As troop leader of a group of Junior and Cadette girl scouts (grades 4-8), I got to know quite a few girls some of whom later became babysitters for my 2 year old adopted son. The girls became most interested in babysitting around 12-13, wanting to get CPR certified, earn money, etc. 13-15 is the peak years for wanting to babysit before they get too involved with boys, school, sports, etc. I was lucky knowing these girls intimately, I knew which ones were mature, had younger siblings, babies in the family, etc. Now that they are older, I can only get them on an occasional basis, but during those late middle school years they were more available. For girls who were just starting out, their moms were available at their house to answer questions or to come over and help if there was an immediate question. We also had a cell phone the sitter could call, etc. 14 is plenty old enough to babysit children ages 2-6 if the sitter is responsible. Christine