What Age Can Kids Stay at Home Alone: A Parent’s Guide

Young child responsibly staying home alone while adhering to safety guidelines

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of what age kids can stay home alone, as it depends on various factors, including the child’s maturity level, location, and local regulations.


    • There are over 73 million of children in US (2023)

Factors to Consider When Leaving Your Child Home Alone

Maturity Level: Every child develops at their own pace. Some children may be more responsible and mature at a younger age, while others may need more time to develop these traits.

Local Laws and Regulations: Check your state or country’s laws regarding the age at which children can be left home alone. These laws can provide guidance on the legal minimum age, which often ranges from 8 to 14 years old:

    • Illinois (14 years old)

    • Oregon (10 years old)

    • Maryland (8 years old) 

Safety Measures: Assess the safety of your home environment. Ensure that your child knows how to handle emergencies, such as fires, injuries, and intruders, and that they have access to a phone for communication.

Child’s Comfort: Consider your child’s comfort level with being home alone. Are they anxious or confident about staying alone? It’s essential to have open communication with your child to gauge their feelings.

Duration: Think about the duration of time your child will be alone. Leaving a child alone for a few minutes is different from leaving them alone for several hours.

Age Recommendations

While there isn’t a universally agreed-upon age for when kids can stay home alone, experts and parents often offer some general guidelines:

Age 7-10: At this age, some children may show signs of independence and responsibility. However, it’s typically recommended that they only stay home alone for short periods, such as while you run a quick errand.

Age 11-12: Many experts suggest that children in this age range can handle being home alone for longer periods, like after school until a parent returns from work. Ensure they have clear instructions and know what to do in case of an emergency.

Age 13-15: Children in their early teens are generally more capable of staying home alone for more extended periods, such as an evening out. However, it’s still crucial to communicate regularly and set guidelines.

Age 16 and Older: By the time they reach 16, most teenagers can stay home alone overnight or for a weekend. However, parental guidance and communication remain essential.

Home Alone Safety Tips

Regardless of your child’s age, safety should be a top priority. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind:

Emergency Plan: Create a clear and easy-to-follow emergency plan. Ensure your child knows how to call 911 and what to do in various emergency situations.

Communication: Stay in touch with your child via phone or messaging apps. Regular check-ins can provide peace of mind for both you and your child.

Neighborhood Watch: Encourage your child to reach out to a trusted neighbor if they feel uncomfortable or face any problems.

Technology: Limit screen time and access to the internet during unsupervised hours. Ensure your child is using technology responsibly.

Skills Preparation: Prepare some essential safety skills for your kids:

    • Show them how to handle minor injuries like applying Band-Aids

    • Explain how to secure the home properly, such as locking doors and windows, setting the alarm system (if applicable), and knowing what to do if they suspect an intruder

    • Teach them safe kitchen practices for preparing meals

Take Advantage of Smart Technology to Protect Your Kids

In today’s digital age, connected devices offer valuable assistance in ensuring your child’s safety when they are home alone.

    • Security Cameras: Indoor and outdoor security cameras with live streaming capabilities allow you to monitor your child’s activities in real-time.

    • Smart Doorbells: Doorbell cameras offer a view of who’s at the door, enhancing security and enabling remote communication.

    • Smart Locks: Control access to your home remotely and receive alerts when the door is locked or unlocked.

    • Mobile Apps: Many security systems offer mobile apps that provide real-time notifications, allowing you to check in on your child from anywhere.

    • GPS Tracking Devices: Wearable GPS trackers or mobile apps can help you keep tabs on your child’s location when they’re out and about.

    • Home Automation: Smart home systems can be programmed to turn on lights, lock doors, or perform other actions remotely, enhancing the appearance of an occupied home.

    • Emergency Alert Systems: Devices equipped with panic buttons or emergency calling features allow your child to quickly request help if needed.

    • Parental Control Apps: These apps provide control over your child’s device usage, including limiting screen time and monitoring online activity.

Deciding when your child can stay home alone is a complex decision that requires careful consideration of multiple factors. While age is a significant factor, it’s not the only one. Ultimately, you know your child best and can make the most informed choice regarding their readiness for this milestone. Remember that clear communication, safety measures, and gradual independence are key to ensuring your child’s well-being when they are home alone.


1. What’s the right age to leave my child home alone?

The right age varies, but it depends on your child’s maturity level and your state’s regulations. Check your local laws and assess your child’s readiness.

2. Are there any legal requirements for leaving a child home alone?

Yes, there are legal requirements that vary by state. Research your state’s laws to ensure compliance.

3. How can I prepare my child for staying home alone?

Start with open communication, discuss safety protocols, and consider a trial period with short durations to build confidence.

4. What should I do in case of an emergency while my child is home alone?

Ensure your child knows how to handle emergencies like calling 911. Discuss escape plans and safe meeting points.

5. Can I rely on neighbors for support when my child is home alone?

Building a network of trusted neighbors can provide additional support and peace of mind when your child is home alone.


Unicef, “How many children are there in the US?”, 2023. Accessed September 27, 2023.

Child Welfare Information Gateway, “Leaving Your Child Home Alone, 2018. Accessed September 27, 2023.

AACAP, “Home Alone Children”, 2017. Accessed September 27, 2023.