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Amazon, Target, and Walmart Cease Sales of Water Beads Aimed at Children Due to Safety Concerns

by Ryan Lee
5 comments
Water Beads Safety

In a significant move driven by mounting safety concerns, three major retail giants – Amazon, Target, and Walmart – have announced the suspension of sales for water-bead products specifically marketed to young children.

Water beads, comprised of superabsorbent polymers and known for their small, colorful appearance, have been popular as toys and sensory tools, particularly for children with developmental disabilities. However, an increasing number of warnings regarding the potential risks associated with ingesting these beads have come to the forefront.

Dr. Joshua King, the medical director of the Maryland Poison Center, explained, “When (water beads) absorb water, they can swell to many times their size. And while most even still pass through the gut without trouble, occasionally they swell to a size where they actually obstruct the bowel.” Such obstruction can lead to severe discomfort and even life-threatening injuries, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s online guidance. Additionally, water beads can end up in ears, causing damage or hearing loss. Notably, between 2016 and 2022, an estimated 7,800 injuries related to water beads were treated in hospital emergency rooms.

Amazon, taking a proactive stance on safety, recently updated its policy on water bead sales. The e-commerce giant will no longer permit the sale of water beads marketed to children, whether as toys, art supplies, or sensory tools. Amazon’s new policy includes the removal of listings featuring images of children with the products or containing references such as “child,” “kid,” “crafts,” or “sensory play.” Sellers have until December 22 to comply with this updated policy.

Walmart has also confirmed its decision to discontinue the sale of “expanding water bead toy and craft items marketed to young children.” They have already initiated the removal of these products from both physical stores and online platforms.

Similarly, Target has taken steps to address growing safety concerns by discontinuing the sale of water beads marketed to children aged 12 and under. Target is currently in the process of removing these products from store shelves and online listings, with a completion date set for early January.

It’s worth noting that Target previously sold the “Chuckle & Roar Ultimate Water Beads Activity Kits,” which were recalled in September. The recall followed reports of a 10-month-old child in Wisconsin who tragically swallowed the water beads and another incident involving a 9-month-old child in Maine who required surgery after ingesting the beads.

Aside from Amazon, Walmart, and Target, other retailers have also implemented policies to restrict water-bead sales. EBay has introduced measures, including filters to prevent the listing of water beads marketed as toys and safety warning requirements for other water-bead products. In contrast, Etsy has opted to prohibit the sale of water beads entirely, irrespective of their marketing or intended use.

Ashley Haugen, founder of the advocacy nonprofit That Water Bead Lady, expressed her appreciation for the proactive actions taken by these companies. She emphasized that such actions not only save lives but also foster trust among consumers. Haugen’s commitment to water bead safety stems from a personal tragedy when her youngest daughter suffered a critical injury from water beads in 2017.

Beyond the corporate measures undertaken by individual companies, lawmakers and advocates are pushing for more comprehensive change. U.S. Representative Frank Pallone Jr. from New Jersey introduced legislation last month to ban all water beads marketed for children’s use nationwide. Pallone’s announcement of the bill was supported by CPSC Chair Alex Hoehn-Saric and other consumer safety advocates, including Haugen.

Given the continued availability of water beads and similar small objects that children can ingest, experts recommend that families remain vigilant, monitor their children’s play activities, and store potential hazards out of reach and sight. In case of any incidents, local poison centers and the Poison Help line (1-800-222-1222) are valuable resources for immediate assistance.

This latest development underscores the growing importance of safety considerations in the retail industry, particularly concerning products intended for children’s use.


This paraphrased and completed text provides a detailed overview of the situation involving Amazon, Target, and Walmart suspending the sales of water beads marketed to children due to safety concerns. It includes information on the risks associated with water beads, the actions taken by these major retailers, and the broader legislative and advocacy efforts related to water bead safety.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Water Beads Safety

What are water beads, and why are they in the news?

Water beads are small, colorful balls made of superabsorbent polymers. They are in the news because there have been safety concerns related to their use, particularly among children.

What are the safety concerns associated with water beads?

The safety concerns arise from the fact that when water beads absorb water, they can swell significantly in size. In some cases, they can become large enough to obstruct the bowel when ingested, leading to severe discomfort and potential life-threatening injuries. There have also been reports of water beads ending up in ears, causing damage or hearing loss.

Which major retailers are taking action regarding water beads?

Amazon, Target, and Walmart have all taken steps to address the safety concerns associated with water beads. They have suspended the sales of water bead products marketed to young children.

What specific actions have Amazon, Target, and Walmart taken?

Amazon has updated its policy to no longer allow the sale of water beads marketed to children, including as toys, art supplies, or for sensory play. They have set criteria for removing listings that include images of children with the products or references such as “child,” “kid,” “crafts,” or “sensory play.” Sellers have until December 22 to comply.

Walmart has also discontinued the sale of “expanding water bead toy and craft items marketed to young children” and has removed these products from stores and online.

Target is in the process of removing water beads marketed to children aged 12 and under from its shelves and online listings, with a completion date expected in early January.

Are there any legislative efforts related to water bead safety?

Yes, U.S. Representative Frank Pallone Jr. from New Jersey introduced legislation to ban all water beads marketed for kids’ use nationwide. This legislative action is supported by the CPSC and consumer safety advocates.

What should parents and caregivers do to ensure water bead safety?

Experts recommend that families stay vigilant, monitor their children’s play activities, and store potential hazards like water beads out of reach and sight. In case of any incidents, local poison centers and the Poison Help line (1-800-222-1222) are valuable resources for immediate assistance.

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5 comments

SafetyAdvocate December 15, 2023 - 12:23 pm

The proactive steps are crucial. Kudos to those advocating for safer products for our kids!

Reply
PolicyGeek45 December 15, 2023 - 2:03 pm

Legislative action needed here. It’s about time someone did something about these risky toys.

Reply
MomOfThree December 15, 2023 - 3:15 pm

So, so glad they’re doing something about it. My kids play with these things, and now I’m worried.

Reply
ConcernedParent87 December 15, 2023 - 7:56 pm

oh wow! Water beads sound pretty dangerous. glad to see these big stores taking action. those beads could really cause problems if kids swallow ’em.

Reply
RetailWatcher23 December 16, 2023 - 2:46 am

good move by Amazon, Target, and Walmart. safety first, always. we all know kids put everything in their mouths.

Reply

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