Have you read Dino Flammia’s article about how a popular children’s product is in the crosshairs of some public officials? If not, you need to read this. It might just save your kid’s life.

Because this product could have cost my son his.

They’re called water beads and Rep. Frank Pallone and other officials are calling for a ban. They go by different names and the ones I was familiar with were called Orbeez. They’re tiny bb-sized balls that when placed in water expand to many times their size and grow to about the size of a marble or greater.

They’re sold as a craft, or just a fun toy to play with, and for children with autism like my son Atticus, they’re marketed as a sensory toy.

The problem is they are squishy and can go into an ear canal or nasal passage without coming back out, and can pose not only a choking hazard but can be ingested and block a child’s intestinal tract. All of these things have happened.


The bright colors and texture are very tempting to all kinds of kids. Several years ago, I bought them as a sensory toy for my son with autism and within a week found him choking on a handful of these things and beginning to turn blue.

I threw him facedown across my leg and did a few quick hard blows between the shoulder blades and thank god they came out followed by the scariest most desperate sounding intake of air you can imagine.

They were immediately thrown out. Frank Pallone wants to throw them all out legislatively. He’s introducing the Ban Water Beads Act.

People are going say, 'Do you have to prohibit these completely? Are there some that are safe?’ The answer is, no, there are none that are safe,” Pallone says. “We have to ban them because there's absolutely no way to ensure through any kind of education that they're going to be safe.


There was already one known death of a child. And many more injuries. From 2016 to 2022 there were 7,800 emergency room visits attributed to water heads. Like in the case of my son they can cause a choking hazard, but more often are ingested and can cause other issues.

A one-year-old girl in Texas ingested this product and began vomiting and was rushed to a hospital. The girl had to endure emergency exploratory surgery. She survived but her recovery has been very slow, and she’s needed various therapies.

Worth the fun? Absolutely not. I learned the scary way but had no idea how widespread this problem was until now. I absolutely believe this product needs to be banned and hope Pallone is successful. In the meantime, with Christmas coming up, don’t buy them. I have a little boy who would tell you the same.

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