Parenting

How Many Babies Can a Babysitter Watch? (Chart Included)

a babysitter watching a couple of kids

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!

Quick Answer:

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. StateState Daycare Guidelines
AlabamaThe state allows five babies under 18 months old
AlaskaFour from birth through 11 months per daycare center or two for in-home daycares.
ArizonaThe state allows up to five children under the age of 12 months or six between one to two years of age.
ArkansasSix infants are allowed. Infants are classified as those babies between the ages of birth and 18 months.
CaliforniaThe 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.
ColoradoChild 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.
ConnecticutThe maximum is four infants per adult in a daycare center or two in a family day care home.
DelawareFour babies under 12 months per caregiver are allowed in daycare centers. Family daycares allow for two infants.
FloridaThe state allows four infants per caregiver. Infant is defined as children ages 12 months and younger.
GeorgiaDaycare 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.
HawaiiHawaii 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.
IdahoFive babies under age two are allowed per care provider.
IllinoisFour infants are allowed in daycare centers. Three are allowed in in-home daycares.
IndianaThe maximum is four infants per care provider.
IowaDaycare centers may have four infants. In-home providers may have no more than three.
KansasThe state allows three children between the ages of two weeks and 12 months.
KentuckyFive infants per provider for both daycare centers and in-home daycare.
LouisianaSix infants through nine months and eight through 18 months are permitted per daycare provider.
MaineMaine allows four infants from six weeks through nine months in daycare centers and three infants in in-home facilities.
MarylandThree infants per provider are permitted.
MassachusettsThree infants per guardian in a daycare center are allowed.
MichiganThe state allows four children from birth through 12 months.
MinnesotaMinnesota allows four infants in a daycare center and two in an in-home daycare.
MississippiFive infants through nine months are permitted per provider.
MissouriMissouri allows four infants from age six to 18 months per caregiver.
MontanaFour infants in a daycare and up to six in an in-home facility are permitted.
NebraskaNebraska permits four infants under 12 months old.
NevadaA 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 HampshireThe state permits four infants per caregiver.
New JerseyFour infants per provider in a daycare center or three in an in-home daycare are allowed.
New MexicoSix infants are permitted
New YorkDaycare centers can have four children under nine months old. In-home daycares may have two.
North CarolinaFive infants per provider are allowed.
North DakotaFour 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.
OhioFive infants under two are allowed in daycare centers. In-home daycares may have three.
OklahomaThe state allows up to four infants per provider in a daycare or up to five in an in-home facility.
OregonThe state allows no more than four children under the age of 23 per guardian.
PennsylvaniaPennsylvania allows four children under nine months old.
Rhode IslandFour infants under 18 months are allowed in daycare centers. Two children under 18 months are allowed in in-home daycares.
South CarolinaThe state allows up to six infants under age two.
South DakotaFive infants are permitted in daycare centers. Four are permitted in in-home facilities.
TennesseeFour 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.
UtahIn-home daycares may have two infants. Daycare centers can have up to four.
VermontVermont allows four infants in daycare centers and two in in-home daycares.
VirginiaFour infants under 16 months are permitted in all types of childcare facilities.
WashingtonFour children up to 11 months in a daycare center or six in an in-home care center.
West VirginiaThe state allows four children under age two in a daycare center and up to six in an in-home facility.
WisconsinWisconsin allows up to four children under age two in any setting.
WyomingThe state permits four infants up to 12 months old.
Disclaimer: make sure to check what your current local and state laws are. Data source is daycare.com.

Final Thoughts

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.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How many babies can one babysitter watch?

    2 kids is considered by many to be the most one babysitter should watch by themselves.

  2. 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.

a babysitter watching a couple of kids

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