Guidelines for Children Left Alone

In Ontario, children under 10 cannot ever be left alone.

Children 10 and over can be left home alone for a maximum of 2 hours. This is not to be done overnight.

Children 10 to 12 alone for a maximum of 2 hours. You should consider the child’s maturity and that they have no fear or anxiety of being alone. Children of this age should not be expected to take care of younger siblings.

Children 13 to 14 for a maximum of 5 hours. At this age, they should not be responsible for cooking, supervising swimming, or bathing of younger siblings. It is generally recommended that they do not babysit for longer than 4 hours a day.

Children 15 to 16 for a maximum of 10 hours. For children 16 years of age and under, they cannot be left alone without making some arrangement for their care. Checking in by phone calls, and making a neighbour as your helper is a good arrangement.

Teach all your children general safety rules. Prepare and post a list of emergency contact numbers by your telephone for easy reference.

A babysitting certificate is a good idea to learn the basics of health and safety procedures. The Ottawa Red Cross offers Babysitting and Youth Programs. For more information, click here.