Search icon


27th Sep 2018

Mum’s question on leaving her child home alone starts major debate

Orlaith Condon

‘At what age would you leave a child at home alone?’

One mum has sparked an online debate after she questioned how young is too young to leave a child at home alone.

Posting her query on Mumsnet, one parent asked for advice on the issue saying:

“What’s the youngest you would leave a child home alone to pop to the shops? I know everyone’s area is different so shops will be further away, but just looking for a general idea.”

Parents quickly began to share their thoughts on the subject, sparking a bit of debate thanks to varying opinions.

“Bright child? Eight-ish. But it’s a ‘how long is a piece of string question’,” read one of the comments.

Another comment read:

“It depends on the child. I left my son at nine as he is really sensible but my daughter is 10 and I would still not leave her as she has no impulse control.”

The opinions varied from seven to 13 years old, however, some criticised other parents for their thoughts on the issue. One mum revealed that she left her daughter in her cot sleeping while she ran to the shop for 15 to 20 minutes, and received backlash from some members, with one responding:

“I hope that’s not true. If you don’t want social services on your back then I probably wouldn’t do that.”

As it stands in Ireland currently, there is no legal age when it is acceptable to leave children at home alone. However, it is advised that parents should assess the situation based on their child’s ability to cope with being left alone.

There is also no legal minimum age for babysitting and, again, parents are advised to assess the situation based on maturity and competence.