Parents Beware: The Dangers of Water Beads | Scott Goodwin Law

Parents Beware: The Dangers of Water Beads

by / Wednesday, 06 December 2023 / Published in Defective Products
Close-up view of blue water beads.

Kids love to play with things that are bright and colorful. Things that can roll around or be squished when touched can be pretty exciting to kids, too. Because of this, water beads might seem like a great toy for kids. But it’s important to understand that while water beads might be fun to play with, they can potentially be extremely dangerous for young children. 

What are Water Beads?

Water beads are small, polymer beads that are highly absorbent. When placed in water, they grow to be substantially bigger than their original size. These have been marketed for many different purposes. Water beads were originally created for agricultural use and are often used for creating floral arrangements and other crafting purposes. But while these uses are generally geared more towards adults, they’re also often promoted as toys for young children that promote sensory development and help them learn skills like counting and sorting. 

Why Water Beads are Dangerous for Children

One problem with water beads is that since they’re small, bright, and colorful, it’s easy for children to mistake them for candy. When dried out, some water beads are so small that they can look like candy sprinkles that might go on a cupcake. In 2023, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission stated that water beads have been associated with thousands of emergency room visits every year and just one bead is enough to cause some serious harm. 

The highly absorbent nature of water beads makes them extremely dangerous if swallowed because water beads will grow in size while in the digestive tract and cause serious blockages that require surgery to treat. Children have also been known to inhale water beads or put them in their ears, also causing dangerous blockages that need to be surgically removed. 

Water beads also pose some very unique challenges for medical treatment. While it’s not unusual for very young children to eat things that they’re not supposed to, those other items usually remain a consistent size after being ingested. Since water beads grow over time as they absorb moisture, they can potentially expand in narrow areas of the body. Water beads can also be difficult to detect on X-rays, which can delay treatment and increase the risk of serious injury.

Manufacturers of water beads have been criticized for not providing adequate warnings on water beads about how dangerous they can be if ingested. 

Water Bead Safety Tips

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends waiting until all children in your home are at least three years old before purchasing water beads and only letting children play with them under supervision. There have been cases of children needing medical attention after ingesting water beads that were intended for use by older siblings, even when the parents took precautions to prevent the younger children from getting ahold of the beads. It’s so easy for these beads to accidentally get scattered around and roll onto the floor where children can find and ingest them.

If you have water beads in your home, store them in a sealed container that kids won’t be able to access. It’s also best to only use water beads on a table over a hard floor, then vacuum or sweep the floor immediately afterward. Since water beads can be so small and hard to see when dried out, it’s very easy for them to get lost if they fall onto a carpeted floor. 

Contact a Michigan Defective Product Lawyer

Even if a product works as it’s supposed to, it can be considered defective if the manufacturer doesn’t provide adequate warnings about potential safety risks. If your child has been harmed by water beads or any other defective product, contact a defective product lawyer for help. At Scott Goodwin Law, you’ll be able to get help from a lawyer experienced in handling defective product cases in the state of Michigan. Contact us today for help with your case.

Image: Pixabay / mikaylaquinnphoto