What Parents Need To Know about the Water Beads Recall From Amazon

Water beads can be dangerous, whether they are recalled or not.

<p>GettyImages/Irina Tiumentseva</p>

GettyImages/Irina Tiumentseva

Fact checked by Sarah Scott

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has issued a recall of the Tuladuo Water Bead sets due to elevated levels of acrylamide, a violation of the Federal Hazardous Substances Act.

The CPSC reports that a 1-year-old child required surgery to remove a large bead after it was ingested.

The Tuladuo Water Bead sets were sold online at Amazon from March 2021 through November 2023 by Tuladuo US, a company located in China. According to the report, the company has not agreed to or responded to CPSC’s request for a recall. Consumers who purchased the product will also receive a notice directly.

This isn’t the first time water beads have been recalled: Another toy brand, Chuckle & Roar, recalled its water beads in September 2023 after the death of a 10-month-old baby in Wisconsin.

Whether they are recalled or not, water beads can be a serious hazard for kids. The CPSC estimates that 7,000 emergency room visits in the U.S. were related to water bead-related ingestion from 2018 through 2022. Here’s everything parents need to know about water beads.

What To Know about the Water Beads Recall

The CPSC is warning parents to immediately stop using the water beads and dispose of them in the trash.

The warning concerns two sets of the Tuladuo Water Beads, which were sold in plastic containers with 50,000 small water beads. One container also had 50 large water beads in a plastic bag, one plastic scooper spoon, two plastic funnels, four plastic spatulas, one mesh bag and five beige balloons.

The other Tuladuo Water Bead set also contained 50 large water beads in a plastic bag, 12 ocean animal toys, eight cups, a funnel, seven tools/tweezers, 10 balloons, and an inflatable mat in a clear plastic bin.

The large water beads were sold in nine colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, pink, purple, white and clear. The small water beads were sold in seven colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, black, and clear.

Are Water Beads Dangerous?

Water beads can be sold as toys and sensory tools. They can also be used in vases and gardens. Water beads are small, water-absorbing balls made of super absorbent polymer chemicals. They are often colorful and can be mistaken for candy.

This is a reason they are a general choking hazard. But the CPSC also warns these beads can grow up to 1,500 times their size when they come in contact with water. This poses a risk of intestinal obstruction and damage if ingested.

With the presence of hazardous chemicals, such as acrylamide in some water beads, like in this particular recall, it additionally makes them a toxicity risk.

“Their appearance–small and candy-like–coupled with their size, may make them seem harmless,” says Ashley Haugen, founder of the non-profit group That Water Bead Lady.

Haugen knows firsthand about the dangers of water beads, after her daughter Kipley was poisoned by one in 2017 when she was 13 months old, requiring major surgery to remove it.

Their lives changed forever, after Kipley was later diagnosed with toxic encephalopathy, a form of brain injury due to the exposure to harmful chemicals present in the beads.

Her story is a heartbreaking example of how just the presence of the beads in a home can be dangerous.

“They scatter, bounce, roll, and hide all over the place,” adds Haugen. Because the beads are small, they can be easily concealed within a home even after supervised use.

“The key thing parents should know about water bead injury is that these injuries can and do happen even when parents use strict adult supervision and are only using the beads with older kids,” she says.

Kelley Miller, Injury Prevention Coordinator at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, agrees, adding, “While water beads may be appropriate for older children, their small size makes it easy to misplace or drop beads that can quickly end up in the hands or mouths of smaller children."

Haugen, a mom of two, has made it her mission to educate others about the dangers of water beads through her nonprofit, which helps families navigate the aftermath of product injury by encouraging them to report injuries to the CPSC, using the SaferProducts.gov website. The organization also helps families locate community resources, and connects them with other nonprofits.

“It's not just babies who are getting hurt, older kids and pets have been injured too,” she cautions.

Water Beads Ingestion Symptoms

If you do suspect your child ingested one there are some signs parents can look out for, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

  • Refusing to eat

  • Lethargy

  • Drooling

  • Vomiting

  • Wheezing

  • Complaints that something is stuck in the throat or chest

  • Abdominal pain

  • Constipation

  • Abdominal swelling and soreness

“If the water bead is lodged elsewhere, like a nasal passage or ear canal, that will cause pain in the area,” says Diane Calello, executive and medical director of the New Jersey Poison Control Center at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.

The CPSC reported two cases where a 5- and 7-year-old had stuck the beads in their ears, but they initially went undetected. Given their translucent or jelly-like nature, the beads are hard to detect through imaging and X-rays. Both children required surgery to remove the beads and ended up with ear drum damage. One also had hearing loss.

If the water bead gets stuck in the throat, Calello cautions to look for signs of blockage which can include choking, coughing, change in voice, or being unable to talk or breathe.

If you suspect your child swallowed a water bead or put them in your ears, seek treatment from a physician right away. You can also call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 or get online help.

Should Water Beads Be Banned?

The AAP recommends parents and teachers consider waiting until children are at least 3 years old if they opt to use water beads, and to only use them on a table over a hard floor. It also recommends keeping them in a tightly sealed container where children can’t access them, and to always supervise a child who is using them, no matter how old they are.

But for many, those recommendations are simply not enough.

After pressure from regulators, lawmakers, and parent advocates like Haugen, Target and Walmart will no longer allow the sale of water beads to children under the age of 9 and 12 respectively. Amazon is also required to enforce a new policy on the sale of water beads that are marketed to children. Both the federal government and states like New Jersey are looking to ban water beads entirely.

“The delay between use of the beads in a home and injury to members of the household can be weeks, months, or in some cases years,” says Haugen.

She urges: “Bottom line, do not use water beads as sensory toys in your home, child care facility, therapy clinic, or school.”

For more Parents news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!

Read the original article on Parents.