"Would you leave a peacefully sleeping 10-month old home alone for 7 minutes?"


It’s the question firing up debate in parenting forums: would you leave a sleeping baby peaceful and “safe” fast asleep in her cot while you popped out for seven minutes?

She’s sound asleep.

The shop is 50m down the road.

And you just know she never wakes up this soon.

Is it ever okay?

Is it ever okay? Via IStock.

The question was posed by a mother to the parenting forums Mumsnet.

“Would you leave a peacefully sleeping 10m old home alone for 7 minutes? Baby reliably naps at the same time every day for at least an hour. The 7 minutes is going to a shop to collect something approx 50m away”

The response: More than 800 posts and a huge debate about whether its ever okay or not.

In it the mum was called “ really irresponsible” and “out of order.”

“If I knew of somebody leaving a 10 month old alone like that I would be making social services aware. Sorry.”

She was told it was risky and dangerous..

“Er, no. Even though it's super tempting, I quite often want to shift my car when it's parked 100 yards away and a space comes free next to the house. But I don't do it as it's just not worth it!!”

And told to consider the what-could-go-wrongs..

“The bigger danger is that something happens to you. If you get knocked down by a car and carted off to hospital no one will know about the baby in your house on his own. If your car gets bashed and you have to sort out details with the other driver then you'll be loads longer than 7 mins. If your tumble drier sets the house on fire then 7 mins will kill your baby.”



She was told it was risky and dangerous.. Via IStock.

Others though argued the point through what they saw as reason..

“It's logically as risky as having a shower (where you can't hear shit) or going in the garden to hang out washing when they're asleep. You're hardly constantly monitoring them then either. It's irrational to think popping out for 7 min is any different.”

“I totally get that something could happen on the way to the shop, but you could also slip in the shower, bang your head or something.  I wouldn't do it but I don't think you are bad to do it”

"I know a mum who regularly left her sleeping toddler in the car whilst doing the school run. This toddler almost choked on her own vomit whilst sleeping. This same mum lets her eldest (six) play out till tea time. Some people never learn."

An older mum wrote her perspective:

“I also know I would have popped out very briefly whilst babies were napping to post a letter, or unload shopping from the car, possibly I may even have nipped into the doctors surgery (a few doors away) to pick up a prescription - that sort of thing. I wouldn't have questioned it and I certainly wouldn't have agonised with a friend over whether it was the right thing to do or not. I would never have even thought to mention it, it was such a non-event in terms of "risk".”


Post continues after video.

And then the confessions came out.

“I went to the shop once, needed milk and he was asleep. He was in that deep sleep they have when they first nod off. I was 5 mins and don't need to cross any roads.. I did a risk assessment and summarised that it would be far risker for him to wake in the night cross because of lack of milk!”

"Yes, I would. And have done But nobody else on MN will admit to doing the same consider it a reasonable thing to do. Do your own risk assessment and then make a decision."

"I have popped out to buy a pint of milk from the corner shop while my DH was asleep, so technically an adult in the house, they've been ok - I can be there and back in three minutes flat."

And yet another:

"I have before now trekked up our very long road to move the car half a mile from its parking spot to directly outside my house, where my DC (both under 3) were fighting watching TV. I reasoned that the risk of noncompliant DS1 running off into the road while I wrestled with nonmobile DS2 was greater than the risk of me/them dying during the walk...."


The original poster told the forum that it was to get two boxes of clothing she had ordered online and as she lived in a flat she thought it would be easier to get them while her daughter wasn’t with her so she didn’t have to lift both.

She said she also wanted to get home and try them on before her baby woke up.

Would you pop out just for a few mines? Via IStock.

She then made her confession:

“Errrm this 7 minute trip already happened this morning. I timed it hence knowing it took exactly 7 minutes. Nothing bad happened whatsoever but I did worry. Was wondering if I had been completely out of order or if anyone else has done similar.”

And the Mumsneters were not pleased.

“Today 7 minutes. Tomorrow 15 minutes. Who knows what time limit you'll be justifying next week."

“I hope someone reports them for neglect, because that's what they're doing, neglecting their baby, and if anyone thinks that is dramatic, tuff! the truth hurts.”

Post continues after video.


In Australia there is no national law stating an age you can leave your kids alone. Each state and territory deals with the matter differently.

In NSW parents are expected to make “reasonable decisions” about their children’s safety with fines up to $22,000.

In Victoria parents risk a $1650 fine or up to three months’ jail for the crime of ‘leaving a child unattended’.

In QLD the laws are tougher, parents in the Sunshine state risk up to ”three years’ jail for the crime of “leaving a child under 12 unattended for an ‘unreasonable” amount of time. The question is what the law will interpret as “unreasonable.

Where did you go Ma? Via IStock.

Back in the UK the original poster again popped onto the forum to thanking the hundreds of women who gave her their input:

“At the end of the day we are all human, we all love our kids and desperately want to keep them safe. Occasionally there's an opportunity for a tiny bit of respite and excitement in a long day of selfless childcare that feels reckless but in reality has a minuscule risk... I decided to take it.  I am really glad I asked the question, as there have been some interesting and intelligent replies on both sides.  Over strikes the nail on the head saying things 'feel' risky that actually aren't. Flying vs driving is a good example.

Saying that I doubt I'll do it again.”