Do older siblings make good babysitters?

Leaving an older child in charge of younger siblings has many advantages for parents. It can make life a lot easier, it can be very convenient and it probably offers the most economical solution for parents. But do siblings really make good babysitters?

The answer to this question is:  well, it depends.  It depends on a number of considerations and some of these are listed below.  If your family members can answer YES to all of these questions, then leaving an older sibling in charge may be a very good option for your family.


Is your babysitter-child at least 12 years of age?

Is the older sibling willing and happy to babysit his younger brothers and sisters?

Will the younger siblings accept the older sibling as the authority figure in your absence?

Have all expectations, responsibilities, rules and routines been discussed, outlined and accepted by all members of the family?

Is your babysitter-child responsible and mature enough to handle emergencies like fire, someone at the door, or flooding toilet?

Does your babysitter-child know how to reach you, a neighbour or family member if needed?

Do you have a well stocked first aid kit and does your babysitter-child know how to use it?

Has your babysitter-child completed a babysitter course and doe he/she know first aid?


If you cannot answer yes to everyone of these questions, then your family needs to either plan and prepare better before leaving the older sibling in charge or hire a non-related sitter with experience that will lead to yes answers above.

Leaving an older child in charge is not a good option for every family.  Younger siblings sometimes have a hard time listening to their older sibling, particularly if they are fairly close in age. The younger ones may not accept the older one as an authority figure. This may lead younger ones to be less compliant and more disobedient with their older sibling. Older siblings may also feel resentful being forced by parents to look after younger brothers and sisters, particularly if they are unpaid. The situation may appear to make life easier for parents, but in the long run it could cause a strain on the siblings’ relationship that will affect the whole family.

A babysitter who is not a sibling may be a better choice for some families. The unrelated babysitter will likely be accepted as the authority figure and can probably maintain order and respect better than older siblings.

Finding the right babysitter is not always an easy task. Start by asking friends, family and neighbours for referrals. Involve your children to select the right sitter. Parents want to feel confident that their children are happy and being well cared for by a responsible and reliable person in their absence.

When hiring a babysitter, ask for a resume, interview the applicant and check references thoroughly.

Look for a sitter who has had experience and enjoys being with children. During your interview, ask the candidate about their interests and how they plan to keep your kids occupied. Do they share similar interests with your children, like sports, collections or hobbies? Sitters with similar interests will likely be more compatible and have lots of activities planned to keep your children active, busy and away from the TV and other electronic devices.

Babysitters should have completed a babysitting course and hold a current first aid certification. Verify that any certifications are current as first aid knowledge and skills are easily forgotten if not used. Sitters should also obtain and provide proof of a police check with vulnerable sector screening. Anyone working with children should have a police check.

Age and maturity are factors when making your hiring decision. A full time summer sitter or one staying late at night should be at least 16 years of age, be mature and responsible and have good common sense. Ask “what if” scenario questions to see how the candidate would respond in certain situations.

Once you think you have found a suitable babysitter, try her or him out first.   Make sure to ask your children what they did with the sitter and what they thought of him/her. Their opinion and feedback will be important factors in helping you select the right individual.