Call 911
Call 911 if a child is in immediate physical danger.

You can learn about child safety. You can also learn how to choose an appropriate child caregiver or babysitter to care for your child.

According to the law, there is no set age at which a child can be left alone. The parent is responsible for deciding whether or not the child is mature and responsible enough take care of herself or himself.

While the law does not specify age, very young children cannot take care of themselves and should not be left alone.

There is no law about the minimum age that a person must be to babysit children. Parents are responsible for deciding whether or not the babysitter or caregiver is mature and responsible enough to take care of their child.

Babysitter or Child Caregiver Safety

Parents should be cautious when leaving children with caregivers or babysitters. You should be sure that the person you choose has the patience and experience to deal with a crying baby.

You can find a licensed Child Care Center or get Child Care Financial Assistance from a center or network associated with the Administration for Children's Services (ACS).

You can also report Child Abuse if you think that your baby's caregiver or babysitter may be abusing or neglecting your child.

Download the Child Safety brochure for tips about keeping children safe.

Picking a Safe Caregiver or Babysitter

When choosing a caregiver or babysitter, you should select someone who:

  • Has experience caring for babies and young children
  • Is patient and mature enough to care for a fussy, overexcited, or crying baby
  • Understands that young children must always be watched
  • Will never shake, hit, yell at, make fun of, or keep food from a child as punishment
  • Does not abuse alcohol or drugs, or carry a weapon, and will not surround a child with others who may be drinking, using or selling drugs, or carrying weapons

Avoiding a Dangerous Caregiver or Babysitter

There are warning signs of a potentially dangerous caregiver or babysitter. They include someone who is:

  • Angry or very impatient when children have tantrums, cry, or misbehave
  • Violent or controlling with their partners
  • Physically or verbally abusive with children
  • An abuser of alcohol and drugs, including marijuana
  • Using prescription medications that have bad side effects or make them drowsy
  • Not trust-worthy for any reason

No matter how angry or frustrated you feel when your baby or toddler cries, and no matter how much he or she cries, never shake your baby or toddler. Shaking can cause bleeding in the brain that can injure or even kill a child. It takes only a few seconds of shaking to seriously hurt a baby’s developing brain.

When your baby keeps crying:

  • Never shake your baby.
  • Make sure he or she isn’t hungry, wet, cold or hot.
  • Give him or her a pacifier.
  • Walk around holding your baby close to you, in your arms or in a carrier. Talk or sing to him or her.
  • Call a trusted friend, relative, or neighbor to talk to, or ask someone to come over and keep you company.

If your baby keeps crying, put him or her in the crib. Make sure the baby is safe. Check in every five minutes or so. It is much better to let the baby cry than to do something to stop the crying that may be harmful.

The Office of Community Partnerships (OCP) helps community-based organizations learn about child safety and preventing child abuse and neglect.

OCP partners with the following communities to improve child safety, support families, and recruit foster homes:

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant, Bushwick, and East New York in Brooklyn
  • Highbridge, Mott Haven, and Soundview in the Bronx
  • East Harlem and the Lower East Side in Manhattan
  • Elmhurst and Jamaica in Queens
  • Stapleton on Staten Island

You can get information about joining the Community Partnership Program if you are a community-based organization, faith-based institution, or a resident in one of these areas.

Call 311 or 212-NEW-YORK (212-639-9675) for help.

The Administration for Children's Services’ (ACS) short film "A Life to Love: Preventing Accidental Injury" offers tips on keeping children safe in a variety of everyday situations. The film is 14 minutes long.

It offers information about preventing tragedies such as Shaken Baby Syndrome and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

Watch "A Life to Love."

Call 311 or 212-NEW-YORK (212-639-9675) to order a copy of the film on video or DVD.

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