Young babysitters would feel better prepared if they were given compulsory first aid lessons at school, research has found.
A report by childcare charity Daycare Trust calls for first aid training to be part of the National Curriculum for all secondary school students, along with other measures.
It carried out a study which found one in 10 families had used a carer aged between 15 and 24 to look after their child in the last six months, and one in six 15 to 24 year-olds was providing informal childcare to relatives or friends, or was a paid babysitter to unrelated families.
The charity's research found that while half of 15 to 24-year-olds who provided informal childcare did so to enable parents to undertake leisure activities, one third did so in order to help parents work.
Young babysitters provide a significant number of hours of childcare every week, often on a regular basis. Sibling carers provide an average of 5.7 hours of childcare every week, it found. The report concluded that young babysitters are crucial to the UK economy.
The research, part of Daycare Trust's Big Lottery-funded project, is the first report to examine the use and profile of babysitters in Britain and looked at the experiences of young babysitters, parent satisfaction, and child safety and welfare issues.
Many so-called "near-miss" accounts were given of young babysitters experiencing incidents of children in their care climbing out of windows, falling off chairs or choking, with many young babysitters feeling inexperienced and unprepared.
However, the majority said they were happy providing informal childcare and found babysitting a rewarding experience which built their confidence and brought them closer to younger relatives in their charge.
Daycare Trust said it was also recommending that more schools enrol their students on British Red Cross babysitting courses and use PSHE lessons to discuss safe babysitting practices.
The report, Young Babysitters In Britain, surveyed 1,413 parents, 857 informal carers aged 15 and over, and held 10 focus groups with parents who use informal childcare and two with young people who provide informal childcare.