The following content was updated in July 2022
Most of us know it is simply common sense not to leave a young child unattended.
But did you know Maryland has a specific law on when you can legally leave a child unattended?
Did you know Maryland provides an exact age requirement for leaving children unattended? Do you know what that age is?
Eight is the Magic Number
Maryland law specifically requires that a child be at least eight years old before you may leave them unattended.
This law applies to a child left in any building, dwelling, or enclosure. It includes any motor vehicle (which would include things like RV’s, campers or mobile homes).
What Does “Unattended” Mean?
Unattended means “out of sight” in the specific words of the statute. So, any building or vehicle that has an unattended child in it must be in line of sight.
The law also says a child is not “unattended” if they are in the care of another child at least 13 years old. This means 13 is the minimum age for a babysitter in Maryland.
It also means you cannot leave your 10 year old watching your 5 year old. In that case, your 10 year old is not unattended, but your 5 year old is an unattended child because your 10 year old is not old enough to provide proper supervision.
Maryland takes this very seriously. A violation of this law is a criminal misdemeanor and punishable by up to 30 days in jail.
Even if your child is over eight years old, it may not be a good idea to leave them alone.
The child must be emotionally mature enough to be left alone. They also must be responsible and trustworthy. They must also know what to do in the event of an emergency.
Every parent will need to decide that for themselves and their own child.
The Maryland Department of Human Resources has a great brochure you can read with tips on things to consider before you leave your child unattended.
Conclusion & Next Steps
Nobody wants Child protective services showing up at their house. Make sure you know the minimum age to leave a child unattended so this never happens to you.
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