Parents are calling for tougher measures on the contents of party bags after research found a third know of a child who has been injured by a cheap toy given out following a birthday.
A poll of 1,240 parents revealed one in 20 have even seen their own child hurt by a toy, food item or other unsuitable gift left in a party bag.
As a result, nine in 10 support more stringent safety regulations on the items commonly put into the post-birthday packages.
The study was conducted by ChannelMum.com after Australian toddler Alby Fox Davis choked to death on a bouncy ball given out in the party bags at his fourth birthday party.
ChannelMum.com founder Siobhan Freegard 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, with a third of those parents who saw a child hurt saying it was as a result of this.
A quarter have caught a child choking on a toy, balloon or bouncy ball while one in 50 have even seen a child choke on a pen lid.
A further 24 per cent 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.
Researchers found party bags are given out at 93 per cent of children’s parties, but more than half of parents admit they wouldn’t be confident in giving first aid to a child maimed by a party bag toy.
It also emerged almost four in 10 parents start giving out party bags as early as their child’s first birthday, with the offerings most commonly going on until age 10.
Worryingly, 28 per cent of parents admit they forget to check if the bags they give out are safe, while a quarter don’t always make sure bags their child is gifted at other parties are acceptable.
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 per cent 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.
Almost half still include bouncy balls, even though the tiny toys are linked to fatal choking incidents, and 42 per cent add temporary tattoos, which can cause allergic reactions.
The study also revealed parents feel £3 per party bag is an acceptable amount to spend.
But in reality, mums and dads end up spending £5.25 per bag – totalling an average of £1,312.50 on the treats until their child reaches the age of ten.
However, four in five parents say 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.”
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