How old were you when your parents left you alone for the first time?

Chances are if you're over 40, your parents were probably a little more lenient about the age a kid can be left home alone. Today, I feel parents are a bit more strict about that number.

If you want to know what the legal age is in each state, you can go to the Iowa Department of Human Services or similar departmental websites to find out what the law says for each state.

As a kid growing up in Iowa, being left home with my older brother didn't seem like a big deal. Our mom would run to the store and be back before we knew it. If we were at our grandparents' homes, they wouldn't have dreamed of leaving us alone for a minute. We weren't rowdy or irresponsible, they just didn't leave us unaccompanied.

I felt like I was always safe because my brother was three years older than I. He was a good protector back then. Here we are way before we were left to our own devices.


I'll never forget the first time I was left alone without my brother. I was napping and my mom drove a few blocks away to pick up my brother from school. I woke up in an empty house and I was terrified. Fortunately, just as I started to dial my grandmother's house, my mom pulled into the driveway. 

AM 950 KOEL logo
Get our free mobile app

It may come as a surprise to you that in Illinois the law indicates a child can be left home alone at the age of 14. According to the Iowa Department of Human Services, there is no specific age requirement where a child is allowed to legally be left home alone in Iowa.

According to, Iowa isn't the only state without a law. Wisconsin, Indiana, and Missouri don't have an age requirement. It's also interesting to note the wide variety of the minimum age across the country. Some states like Kansas show age six is the age you can leave a child home alone. Illinois has the most advanced age at 14. You can see the entire list of states and their age requirements (or lack thereof) here.

The National SAFEKIDS Campaign recommends that no child under the age of 12 be left home alone.


When you reach the point of leaving your child alone for the first time, it is important to go over the following:

  • Make sure your child is aware of what to do in an emergency and who to call.
  • Review basic first-aid and make sure your kids know where to find the first-aid kit if they need it.
  • Set ground rules and establish what the rules are while you are not there; use of appliances, whether friends are allowed to visit, etc.
Tim Mossholder/unsplash
Tim Mossholder/unsplash

You know your kids though and their maturity levels. I know some 13-year-olds who have no business being left home alone. Other kids could be mature and responsible enough at nine or 10. I think it's up to the parent and the maturity level of the child. Since there are no. rules in Iowa, that decision is completely up to the parent.

How old were you when your parents left you alone? How old were your kids?

You HAVE to See This Nebraska Ghost Town

Despite being a ghost town the buildings are in excellent shape!

Best Sports Bars in Eastern Iowa

Here are the best sports bars in all of Eastern Iowa

More From AM 950 KOEL