Plastic tag thingies: The Nightmare After Christmas

And by that, I mean these:IMG_5640

And these:IMG_5657

And these!IMG_6079

They’re on everything! 

Those plastic tags you can pull apart with your hands & one half goes in this direction & the other half goes in that direction. If you’re lucky, you might manage to keep hold of both ends. But more than likely you have had the same experience as us. They turn up weeks after Christmas in every room of the house.

My question is simple: how are these still allowed to be used in infants and young children’s packaging?

They are a choking hazard.

As a parent, I can hand on heart say that during the Christmas period we made every effort to ensure no packaging/tags/paper/tape/string/whatever of any kind was left lying around for Baby Girl, 12 month old Cousin B or three year old Cousin I to pick up.

(There was also hundreds of loom bands picked up as part of this effort thanks to The Little Auntie – age seven. But best we stick to one blood pressure raising topic at a time.)

Despite our best efforts, I was still finding these plastic tags well into January. And we didn’t even host Christmas Day at our apartment.

One toy above all others caught my attention in this issue.IMG_6362

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Apple Playset.

Isn’t it lovely? The top of the apple opens up, there’s a peak-a-boo window, a hole on the side for Baby Girl to pull the caterpillar through & a pretty pocket. And all the rattly, crinkly, squeaky fruit inside. Baby Girl loves it.

Guess how many plastic tags this bad boy had holding him into his packaging. Go on. I dare you.


Eight plastic tags. As if he’s going to jump right out the box & run off with all the crinkly fruit. When cut off the packaging, that makes 16 little plastic choking hazards. SIXTEEN!

Or so we thought…

About three weeks after Christmas, we were playing with the apple as we often do – open & close, open & close, open & close……. & I was looking at the string of fruit, wondering why they’d decided to have them as a string rather than individual pieces for Baby Girl to throw around & lose like she does everything else. “Maybe the Carle toy people thought that through,’ I smiled to myself. I was wrong.

IMG_6363In fact, I discovered they were not a string at all but each held together & at one end attached to the apple itself with yet more plastic tag thingies. Another eight.

That makes 16 plastic tag thingies in total; 32 once they’ve been pulled apart. As if I hadn’t ranted enough about how many there had already been on the packaging. There was even more!

(Though, the side pocket made a lot more sense after I realised they came apart.)

Now, let me be clear; I’m aware that it is the parents’ responsibility to ensure their own child’s safety. And that if I leave plastic tag thingies lying around, that’s my (& Baby Girl’s) problem. And at Christmas, as a nine month old, I had the luxury of being able to do so when she got new toys.

But all this aside; really? No one in the Carle toy people packaging thought, ‘this is a child’s toy. The packaging should probably be child friendly with no choking hazards.’

I’ve had a look on There is legislation in place about toy safety (you can read it here). I found reams about Toy Manufacturers’ responsibilities regarding the toy themselves (toys being defined as ‘for under 14s’). Which I agree, The Very Hungry Caterpillar Apple Play Set does indeed apply all of these. Well done guys.

I also found the Toy Industry Association (TIA)’s page regarding their policy on eco-friendly packaging & sustainability. But that wasn’t hugely relevant for my issue. (Could argue that technically plastic isn’t an environmentally friendly materiel, but perhaps that’s clutching at straws…)

But I haven’t managed to find much of anything about safety standards for the packaging itself or how toys are featured within that packaging.


Apparently BabyGap Jeans need three plastic tag thingies to hold a paper tag in place… really!?

The Apple Play Set wasn’t the only offending player this Christmas. Most toys – & all clothes – used plastic tag thingies, taut string that had to be cut or those wire food bags ties that you twist. None of these seem child friendly to me.

If nothing else, surely a good piece of packaging would be easy for a child to open themselves & contain nothing that could harm them?

And yes, the Apple Play Set was clearly marked ’12+’ (as legislation requires) & Baby Girl received it at 9 months. So arguably, the Carle toy people might say she is too young for this toy. But does this label take the packaging into account? Or just the toy? Because Cousin B, was twelve months old (and two weeks if we get technical) & she was still crawling round, picking bits up off the floor, putting them in her mouth unaware of the problems it may cause her. Including plastic tag thingies.

Am I the only parent who has had an issue with this? Or am I just an over wary new parent who shouldn’t worry so much?

Brilliant blog posts on


4 thoughts on “Plastic tag thingies: The Nightmare After Christmas

  1. reachkate says:

    Agreed 100%!

    Same problem in Canada. The bane of my existence.

    I understand manufacturers want to make it harder for a needy mom to pocket one body suit off a set of 5 (would be harder to notice, I’m sure) and want to make that hungry little caterpillar’s set of fruit look enticing to the purchaser (want this toy, btw) but, sweet Lord, the tags!

    “Won’t someone think of the children!?”
    Good luck fishing them out of baby girl’s mouth. I know mine bites when I try to take them away.

    • amiecaitlin says:

      Such a relief to know I’m not just being a ranty, overprotective Mama! I actually wrote this three weeks ago & have been umming & awwing over whether to actually post it since!

      So thank you for commenting!

      And yes, my fingers haven’t been the same since the top teeth came through *winces*

  2. amiecaitlin says:

    Update: since cutting the string of fruit apart Baby Girl loves this toy even more. Her current favourite trick is crawling from room to room with a piece in her mouth! She’s so proud of herself!

  3. itsamummything says:

    Urgh! I hate these things and you’re right – they are indeed everywhere. Wish someone would come up with something a bit safer and easier to break open. I didn’t like them long before we had a child in the house but now I’m paranoid he swallows one! x

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