Cash-strapped parents unable to heat their homes are placing their damp children in bags of rice on bath night, according to a shock report from the Department of Health.

“It’s a common myth that the rice will draw out the moisture,” warned Secretary of State Steven Barclay as part of a new campaign to highlight the dangers. “Better to go out and get a minimum wage job in a fulfilment warehouse.”

Using the hashtag #ricericebaby, parenting influencers on TikTok have been touting the hack as a way to tackle high heating bills.

Across the country, child-filled sacks have been turning up in classrooms on Monday mornings with teachers ordered to leave the contents undisturbed for the recommended 48 hours.

In one case, 27-year-old Aberdeen mum Janet Scrunge forced her son Blair into a pouch of pilau, jammed him into a microwave and gave the package two minutes at 900W.

“Tears were streaming down his wee face and I cannae afford a Kleenex,” she told magistrates.