Water beads, also known as jelly beads or orbeez, have traditionally been used in the floral industry. Recently, they have been marketed as a sensory toy for children. They can be very fun for children and can be a great sensory toy to keep them occupied. However, there are some safety aspects to consider before letting your child play with water beads.
Water beads are popular because they can absorb water and expand over 1000 times their weight in water. They accomplish this because they contain water-absorbing chemicals. This ultra-absorbant property can make them a dangerous hazard. They can cause blockages in the airway, esophagus, & even in the intestinal tract. Some children who have ingested water beads have needed emergency surgery or have even died.
There are ways to minimize the risks of water beads. First, it is not recommended to let children under three years old play with water beads as they are simply too likely to put them into their mouths. When they are not in use, store them in a tightly sealed container that is out of reach from any children. Lastly, always supervise children for the entire time they are playing with the beads. If there is any concern that your child has swallowed a water bead, it is recommended to immediately call (800) 222-1222 and seek emergency care.