Parents want to police what goes in kids party bags

Should parents have more control about what goes in kids party bags? [Photo: Getty]

Parents are calling for tougher measures on party bags after a survey revealed a third know of a child who has been injured by a toy given out at the end of a party.

Party bags are providing plenty of controversy right now. Last month, a debate was sparked online after a mum gave back her daughter’s party bag with a note complaining about the contents.

And now new research, by parenting site ChannelMum.com has revealed that parents want a greater level of control over what goes inside the party bags their kids are given.

The poll of 1,240 parents was conducted after Australian toddler Alby Fox Davis choked to death on a bouncy ball given out in the party bags at his fourth birthday party.

Of the parents quizzed, a quarter (25%) have experienced their own, or another child choking on an item given in a party bag, and one in 20 have seen their own child hurt by a toy, food item or other unsuitable gift given in a party bag.

As a result, a whopping nine in 10 parents support more stringent safety regulations on the items commonly put into the post-birthday gift.

Commenting on the findings, Siobhan Freegard, founder of ChannelMum said: “Party bags are an exciting and enchanting part of childhood – but we sometimes give our kids items in the bags which we’d never normally let them play with.

“It seems common sense is often forgotten in the rush of preparing for the party. When making up the bags, check each type of toy before you add it in. If you wouldn’t be happy with your child playing with it normally, then simply don’t include it.

“There are lots of great alternatives which are better for the environment and better for your child and their friends.”

The most common problem caused by party bags is an allergic reaction to sweets or other foodstuffs included in the bags.

This is an experience encountered by a third of parents who have seen a child hurt.

Almost a quarter (24%) have witnessed a child who has had a severe reaction to a temporary tattoo, paint or glitter product, and one in nine kids have cut themselves on a poorly-made party favour.

Party bags are given out at a whopping 93% of children’s parties, with almost four in 10 parents kicking off the trend early by giving out party bags as soon as their child’s first birthday.

Worryingly, more than a quarter (28%) of parents polled admit they forget to check if the bags they give out are safe, while a further 25% don’t always check if bags their child is gifted at other parties are acceptable.

That admission comes despite the fact that more than half of parents wouldn’t be confident in giving first aid to a child injured by a party bag toy.

Party bags: cheap fun or health hazard? [Photo: Getty]

More than half say their child opens party bags and plays with the contents before their parents have had a chance to check it – and 43 percent have removed items to ensure their child stays safe.

The most common items in bags are sweets and cake – despite food items causing the most harm to children.

The poll also revealed that parents believe £3 per party bag is an acceptable amount to spend. But in reality, mums and dads end up spending £5.25 per bag – forking out an average of £1,312.50 on the treats until their child reaches the age of 10.

However, four in five parents said they are starting to shun small plastic toys, both to cut down on plastic waste and seek safer alternatives.

St John Ambulance Head of Clinical Operations Alan Weir said: “We don’t want to spoil anyone’s party but it’s wise to be aware of the danger to young children of including objects in a party bag that they might choke on.

“We advise people to use common sense, take the age of the party-goers into account when choosing items and heed the warnings given on the products themselves.”

Packing a Party Bag: tips and advice

St John Ambulance gives the following tips to avoid putting the wrong items in the bag:

– Check the product for age-related warnings

– Even if a toy is too large to choke on, make sure it does not break into small parts

– Warn parents if the bag contains an un-inflated balloon

– Use paper bags not plastic (or check that they comply with safety standards)

– Take care younger siblings don’t pick up items they’re too young for

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