41 answers

Child Alone in a Car

At what age do you think it is appropriate to leave a child alone in the car for a few minutes? I'm assuming a locked car in a safe area, not in extreme temperatures. For example, it's surely safe to drop off a package in the post office with your 15 y.o. in the car alone. Can you do that with an 10 y.o.? A 7 y.o.? What's your opinion?

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The state law isn't very helpful. Ours (MI) says you "shall not leave that child unattended in a vehicle for a period of time that poses an unreasonable risk of harm or injury to the child or under circumstances that pose an unreasonable risk of harm or injury to the child." They define child as under 6. So, legally, I can leave my kids birth through 5 in the car alone as long as it doesn't pose unreasonable risk of harm, and can leave kids 6 or older under any circumstances. Hopefully we all have the sense to be more cautious than that. I appreciate all the other Moms' wisdom about what you feel is safe and appropriate!

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I recently had to leave my 9 yr old in the car to go into a store and get dog food , we were out and she was too sick to go in. She stayed in the car all doors locked she was fine. She had a book.

3 moms found this helpful

It would depend on how long they were in the car alone. My daughter is 13 and the most I've left her in the car alone is when I've been at the dry cleaners. The parking is right at the front of the store and I'm literally 10 steps away from the car. I put the alarm on though. That's just me =-)

Even at 15, if I was going to be out of eye sight, they are old enough to make it easier on my nerves and get out of the car with me.

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If I can't see my kids then they aren't alone in t,he car unless we are in the driveway and I forgot something. My boys are 8,5,10months and the older two can't be trusted not to physically fight when I am not around. I also worry about them being kidnapped!

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In Texas they have a 5 minute law. If you, for instance, park at the gas pump, you don't have to get the baby carrier out and haul a sleeping baby in to say $10 on pump 5 please. Of course, locked temperature controlled car that is within your sight. I would be more apt to leave a baby than a toddler. I worry a toddler can wriggle free and climb into the front seat. Any small boy that has shown an interest in how the car works would be a worry for me. So for me - sleeping baby yes - 7 yr old boy - no!

4 moms found this helpful

It would depend on how long they were in the car alone. My daughter is 13 and the most I've left her in the car alone is when I've been at the dry cleaners. The parking is right at the front of the store and I'm literally 10 steps away from the car. I put the alarm on though. That's just me =-)

Even at 15, if I was going to be out of eye sight, they are old enough to make it easier on my nerves and get out of the car with me.

3 moms found this helpful

I recently had to leave my 9 yr old in the car to go into a store and get dog food , we were out and she was too sick to go in. She stayed in the car all doors locked she was fine. She had a book.

3 moms found this helpful

Suazanne, this is such a great question, and it's one that I've asked myself many times. I'm a car seat tech, and I cringe when parents leave babies in cars intentionally, and I always call 911 if I see it. But my oldest is 10 and the baby is 2, does that make me a hypocrite if I leave them in the car while I run into pay for gas (when the darn pay at the pump isn't working)? I don't know. Check your state laws, go to SafeKids.org or your local govt site maybe. This is what SafeKids says about IL:

"Children under age 7 may not be left unattended in a motor vehicle in excess of 10 minutes. A child is not considered unattended if accompanied by someone age 14 or older.*
*Please note that even if a state does not have a specific law prohibiting adults from leaving children unattended, state and local prosecuters have the discretion to criminally charge adults under existing child endangerment laws.

Michigan does not have a specific law addressing unattended children in cars, but again you can be charged at the officers' discretion.

I am not sure what I think on this. I always try to scare myself into not even running into the gas station with the kids in the car for a second, because even w/ the doors locked, I think what if some psychopath breaks my windows, steals my children, and I never see them again? I know that's a little crazy, but I'm super paranoid! And crazy myself, lol!

J.

3 moms found this helpful

Having two young kids has been more than difficult when it comes to running to do things. I delivered my second when my first was 17 months. So getting them both to the car wasn't easy. I would take my oldest out first, buckle him in and come back to the house and grab the baby. Well last winter when he had just turned 2 and the baby was about 6 months I did that, and he managed to unbuckle himself climbed into the drivers seat and locked the car with him in it. Needless to say I have never done that again. If I don't want the hassle of taking them out and putting them back in, I don't go anywhere. Or I go when my husband is home and leave the kids home.

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Not if you can't see your 7 year old from inside the post office the entire time. I'm thinking 12. NEVER under 6!

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My sister parked right outside the gas station door, and ran in to give the guy some cash for the gas. when she came out, there was a lawyer who was also getting gas, and he said, "you know it's a misdemeanor in MIchigan to leave your kids in the car." Definitely check the law on what age that no longer applies. I agree with whoever said that you shouldn't leave them in the car if you wouldn't leave them home alone. and, NEVER with the keys until they can drive for themselves.

oprah once had a lady on who left 4 of her kids in the car in the driveway while she ran into the house. one of the children pulled out the cigarette lighter and the car started on fire, and they were all horribly burned.

another lady left her young son in the car when she ran in somewhere and when she came out someone was trying to take him. she tried to drive away, and the boy ended up falling out the window or something...moral of the story - don't take the chance, you never know what can happen.

2 moms found this helpful

I never did that until I felt comfortable having them get out of the car and going into the store to find me by themselves, if they needed to.

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