A mother was furious after Santa threatened to call social services because her daughter was too small – despite being just a few pounds lighter than the average child.
Theresa Stewart, 20, took four-year-old Lily to visit Father Christmas at a shopping centre grotto.
But as soon as Lily hopped onto Santa’s knee he commented on how small she was for her age – and then quizzed her about her diet.
Retail assistant Theresa then watched in amazement as Father Christmas told Lily he would “report your mummy”.
The shocked mum said: “Santa asked my daughter how old she was and she said she was four.
“He said ‘You are small for four – what did you eat for breakfast’. She said she had an egg sandwich, because she has problems eating – it’s what she eats.
“He said ‘I’m going to report your mummy’. Obviously this meant social services.”
Theresa, from Gloucester, paid #5 for Lily to see Santa at the city’s Eastgate Shopping Centre and a further #8 for her to receive a gift.
She did not complain directly to Santa at the time because she did not want to spoil Lily’s experience.
At 40ins tall, Lily is above the average height for a child of her age of 37ins and is just 5lbs lighter.
Theresa added: “I am small at 4ft 9in, and Lily is small too. Lily is 40in tall and weighs 2st 2lb.
“The health visitor has been out to see Lily and she is fine. She has trouble eating, that’s all.”
She has now been offered a refund and a verbal apology by staff at Eastgate Shopping Centre but feels a written apology would be more appropriate.
“It’s not about the money, but it’s not acceptable what he said to her,” she added.
“When I spoke to a man at the shopping centre on the phone he said Santa should not have said anything about the way she looked.
“He apologised for that and said it wouldn’t happen again. I don’t think that’s acceptable.”
A spokeswoman for The Eastgate shopping centre said an apology had been made to Theresa over comments made “in jest”, but which were “poorly judged”.
She confirmed that Santa had not been sacked.
She added: “We are aware of the incident involving remarks made by Santa in the grotto.
“As far as we are aware, Santa made remarks in jest that were unfortunately in poor judgment. Unreserved apologies have been offered to the family in question.”