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What Is the Appropriate Age to Leave Kids in Car?

I ran into the grocery store for a few items over the weekend. While exiting with my kids, I noticed a baby in the backseat of a vehicle and did a double take since there were no passengers in the front of the parked car. The child looked to be about a year old and was sound asleep. Upon closer inspection, I saw that there was another little girl seated next to him reading a book. Though she was small, I figured she was about seven or eight-years-old since she was engrossed in a thick paperback.

The SUV was packed with presents and a few balloons as if the family was headed to a party, the sun roof was cracked, the doors were locked and the youngsters looked well cared for, but I still worried about them being left in the car alone. Though there is much debate and even laws in certain states about latchkey kids and when it's alright to leave children home alone, when is it appropriate to let them sit unattended in the car?

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