Whether you’re a parent or you’re hoping to start a babysitting service, you may wonder how many babies are allowed to be watched by a babysitter. That number might be bigger than you think!
Most experts agree that 2 infants is the appropriate maximum for a babysitter to watch. You can also follow the guidelines your state has established for infant care in daycare centers.
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How Many Babies Can a Babysitter Watch?
This simple question has surprisingly complex answers.
First, you need to understand the laws and specific guidelines. Next, you should take the time to consider how many babies a sitter can adequately watch.
Those two things may or may not go hand-in-hand. Generally speaking, a babysitter should not be expected to manage more than two infants. However, there may be some instances where this number doesn’t suffice.
Legal Differences Between Babysitting and Daycare
It may come as a surprise that there are no laws governing babysitting in most states. While there may be laws regarding the minimum age for a babysitter, the number of children in that sitter’s care is rarely limited.
With that in mind, it is important to distinguish the difference between babysitting and daycare.
Babysitting is legally understood to be the practice of occasionally watching a child. Daycare is a heavily regulated industry that assumes children will be watched on a regular, if not daily, basis. Laws that are used to determine the number of infants allowed per daycare provider may be wisely applied to babysitters.
The tactic of using daycare regulation to unofficially determine the appropriate number of babies for a babysitter is especially important in the instances in which in-home daycare providers use the babysitter moniker to skirt laws that limit their practice.
State-by-State Daycare Guidelines
If you wish to use state daycare guidelines to determine what is appropriate for your babysitter, those are somewhat easy to find.
The following is a quick list of states and the number of infants who can be watched per caregiver in a daycare setting.
(Like everything else laws and practices change. This list today might be inaccurate tomorrow. Make sure to double-check what the current laws and guidelines are in your state or jurisdiction.)
|U.S. State||State Daycare Guidelines|
|Alabama||The state allows five babies under 18 months old|
|Alaska||Four from birth through 11 months per daycare center or two for in-home daycares.|
|Arizona||The state allows up to five children under the age of 12 months or six between one to two years of age.|
|Arkansas||Six infants are allowed. Infants are classified as those babies between the ages of birth and 18 months.|
|California||The state permits a ratio of one caregiver to four babies from age birth to nine months. That number increases to six for babies from nine to 18 months.|
|Colorado||Child care centers in Colorado may have five babies between the ages of six weeks and 18 months per caregiver. Family child care may have two infants under the age of two if they are licensed.|
|Connecticut||The maximum is four infants per adult in a daycare center or two in a family day care home.|
|Delaware||Four babies under 12 months per caregiver are allowed in daycare centers. Family daycares allow for two infants.|
|Florida||The state allows four infants per caregiver. Infant is defined as children ages 12 months and younger.|
|Georgia||Daycare centers can have six children ages nine months and younger per guardian or eight between the ages of nine and 18 months. In-home daycares may have three children under one-year.|
|Hawaii||Hawaii differentiates between daycare centers, in-home daycare and friend-care. In-home and friend-care centers allow two infants maximum. Daycare centers may have three from age six weeks to 36 months.|
|Idaho||Five babies under age two are allowed per care provider.|
|Illinois||Four infants are allowed in daycare centers. Three are allowed in in-home daycares.|
|Indiana||The maximum is four infants per care provider.|
|Iowa||Daycare centers may have four infants. In-home providers may have no more than three.|
|Kansas||The state allows three children between the ages of two weeks and 12 months.|
|Kentucky||Five infants per provider for both daycare centers and in-home daycare.|
|Louisiana||Six infants through nine months and eight through 18 months are permitted per daycare provider.|
|Maine||Maine allows four infants from six weeks through nine months in daycare centers and three infants in in-home facilities.|
|Maryland||Three infants per provider are permitted.|
|Massachusetts||Three infants per guardian in a daycare center are allowed.|
|Michigan||The state allows four children from birth through 12 months.|
|Minnesota||Minnesota allows four infants in a daycare center and two in an in-home daycare.|
|Mississippi||Five infants through nine months are permitted per provider.|
|Missouri||Missouri allows four infants from age six to 18 months per caregiver.|
|Montana||Four infants in a daycare and up to six in an in-home facility are permitted.|
|Nebraska||Nebraska permits four infants under 12 months old.|
|Nevada||A daycare provider may have no more than four infants under six weeks old, six babies under nine months old or eight children under 18 months old.|
|New Hampshire||The state permits four infants per caregiver.|
|New Jersey||Four infants per provider in a daycare center or three in an in-home daycare are allowed.|
|New Mexico||Six infants are permitted|
|New York||Daycare centers can have four children under nine months old. In-home daycares may have two.|
|North Carolina||Five infants per provider are allowed.|
|North Dakota||Four children under the age of two are allowed per provider in a daycare center. In-home daycares may have up to seven children of any age.|
|Ohio||Five infants under two are allowed in daycare centers. In-home daycares may have three.|
|Oklahoma||The state allows up to four infants per provider in a daycare or up to five in an in-home facility.|
|Oregon||The state allows no more than four children under the age of 23 per guardian.|
|Pennsylvania||Pennsylvania allows four children under nine months old.|
|Rhode Island||Four infants under 18 months are allowed in daycare centers. Two children under 18 months are allowed in in-home daycares.|
|South Carolina||The state allows up to six infants under age two.|
|South Dakota||Five infants are permitted in daycare centers. Four are permitted in in-home facilities.|
|Tennessee||Four children under nine months old and six under 18 months are allowed in Tennessee.|
|Texas:||Four children under 11 months in a daycare and three in an in-home facility are permitted.|
|Utah||In-home daycares may have two infants. Daycare centers can have up to four.|
|Vermont||Vermont allows four infants in daycare centers and two in in-home daycares.|
|Virginia||Four infants under 16 months are permitted in all types of childcare facilities.|
|Washington||Four children up to 11 months in a daycare center or six in an in-home care center.|
|West Virginia||The state allows four children under age two in a daycare center and up to six in an in-home facility.|
|Wisconsin||Wisconsin allows up to four children under age two in any setting.|
|Wyoming||The state permits four infants up to 12 months old.|
You don’t have to follow these daycare guidelines as a babysitter, though it is a good idea not to surpass the maximum number allowed for your area.
Limiting the number of babies in the babysitter’s care will help ensure appropriate care is given to each child.
- What is the Difference Between a Nanny and a Babysitter?
- Can My Older Child Watch His Younger Brother?
- 10 Warning Signs of a Bad Babysitter
Frequently Asked Questions
How many babies can one babysitter watch?
2 kids is considered by many to be the most one babysitter should watch by themselves.
Do babysitters charge per child?
You should expect to pay more if you have more than 1 kid. While not definite if you have 3 kids you should expect to pay more than someone who only has 1 child.