Leaving your child alone – what exactly is the law?

As surprising as it sounds, the law doesn’t say from what age you can leave a child on their own. 

It is however an offence to leave a child unsupervised if it places them at risk, or “in a manner likely to use unnecessary suffering or injury to health”. 

Because every child is different, parents’ circumstances are different, too.

It can be difficult to know when the time is right. It depends on your child’s maturity and adaptability, but also the length of your absence and how your child feels about it. 

The NSPCC suggests that:

  • Very young children, babies and toddlers shouldn’t be left alone at all 
  • With adequate preparation (for example, with a number to call in case of an emergency), children under 12 can be left alone for short periods of time but aren’t often mature enough to manage for longer.
  • Children under 16 can be left alone during the day, but not overnight

Check out the handy guide “Is my child ready to be left alone?” for more tips and support.