Sure, they look like a blast, and for kids with sensory issues, waterbeads can even be regulating to hold and squish in their hands. But the problem is, water beads can kill children—because they are meant to expand to 50 to 100 times their original volume when combined with water, USA Today reports.
That’s fine if you are just squishing them with your hands. But when a toddler or even older kid tries to eat one, because let’s face it, they look like delicious little gummies, they can be fatal.
The beads expand in a child’s digestive system just like they do in water, and they pose a serious choking hazard. Doctors in the USA Today report also discuss having to surgically remove the beads if they make it further into the digestive tract, where they can wreak havoc on kids. They’ve been responsible for 4,500 emergency room visits since 2017, they also reported, an “avoidable” problem.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports even higher numbers, at 7,800 visits since 2016, and at least one death. They urge parents to remove these products from any environment where kids 3 and under play, including childcare centers, camps, and schools.
Soon, they may be banned completely, as U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, who introduced and is advocating for the Ban Water Beads Act, hopes. “There are none that are safe,” he stresses, and is pictured in the article at a speech where photos of children killed or injured from the “toys” are prominently displayed, along with heartbreaking items like a small child’s booties and a jar of water beads. So, this holiday season, whether they are banned or not yet, remind family and friends to cross this off their shopping lists permanently.