About Teen Sitters

Archived Q&A and Reviews

What you should expect from a teen sitter

Most teenagers who are interested in babysitting and who are available ...

  • do not have a lot of experience
  • do not have a drivers license (and if they do, cannot by law have under-21 passengers for the first year)
  • will need a ride to your house and back (unless they live nearby)
  • may not be able to babysit on weekdays
  • may need to be home by 10pm on weekends

Many local teens have taken CPR and babysitting classes, but many more haven't. If your requirements are too demanding, you may find it difficult to find a teen sitter, and you may be better off hiring an experienced adult childcare provider.

Young teens vs. older teens

Teens often start to be interested in babysitting when they are 11 or 12, and many parents hire neighborhood teens at this age. Most parents who have long-standing arrangements with teen sitters started off with a young teen from the neighborhood whose parents would be home in an emergency. Or they initially hired the teen to come at times when a parent would be at home at the same time working on other tasks. Peak teen babysitting years seem to be between 12 and 15. Teens 15 and older tend to have social activities they want to do with their friends on the weekends. By the time they are 16, they are often driving, going to parties, involved in sports, and it becomes hard to schedule them for babysitting. In addition, 16-year-olds can work at other jobs besides babysitting that usually pay more and are less demanding. Many families have older teen sitters who have been sitting for them for a long time, since they were 12 or so. It's a good idea to develop a relationship early with a younger teen. They may be still willing to babysit for you even after they are driving!

What age child can a teen babysit for?

Most parents who hire teens have children who are past the toddler/diaper stage. There are teens who are very experienced with babies and toddlers - use your intuition about whether the teen is mature enough to care for a baby or toddler. But many teens are reluctant to change diapers, feed and clean up after a messy baby, and they often don't have the life experience to make decisions that adults think of as just common sense. Teens may not have the experience to deal with accidents that crawlers and toddlers can so quickly get in to, and they may not know what to do in unfamiliar situations that require a judgement call.
For most teen sitters, it is best if your child can talk well enough to communicate the basics to the teen babysitter, asking for a snack, telling the teen where the towels are kept, and so on.
Teens are perfect for school-aged children. They have the energy and enthusiasm to play games with them for hours, get down on the floor with them and roll around, and engage with them in a way that adults just can't.

How much do they charge?

In Berkeley and vicinity, older and experienced teens generally charge at least minimum wage to babysit, and more if they are experienced, or if they drive, etc. They may charge more for additional children and they may charge more for late hours. Younger teens just starting out will usually take less, especially if you will be home or if their own parents are on call. 

See How Much to Pay a Teen Sitter