Water beads sold at Target recalled after report of baby’s death

San Antonio mom says the water-absorbing beads should be banned as toys

SAN ANTONIO – Thousands of water bead kits sold at Target were recalled after one baby died and another suffered serious injuries after swallowing the tiny beads. A San Antonio mom says much more than a recall is needed to save lives.

Buffalo Games recalled 52,000 Chuckle & Roar Ultimate Water Beads Activity Kits sold at Target last year.

The colorful beads are tiny, but they grow in size when wet. If a small child swallows the minuscule bead, it can expand and obstruct breathing or block the intestines.

The water bead kits pose a risk of serious injury or death if ingested, the Consumer Product Safety Commission warned.

Buffalo Games has received one report of a 10-month-old in Wisconsin dying from swallowing the recalled water beads in July 2023. Additionally, a 9-month-old was seriously injured in November after suffering an intestinal obstruction.

Target stopped selling the kits in November 2022. Customers can return the kits for a refund.

“I felt relief,” said Ashley Haugen, a San Antonio mother on a personal mission to get water beads out of children’s homes.

But, for her, recalling one kit from one brand is not enough as water beads are made and sold by many different companies.

“I want them to ban water beads as toys,” Haugen said. “They are not safe and should never have been marketed as a toy.”

Haugen’s daughter, Kipley, now in first grade, became mysteriously and violently ill as a baby. Exploratory surgery revealed she had ingested water beads.

Haugen says her daughter still suffers the effects, and she continues to push federal regulators to do more.

CPSC chairman Alexander Hoehn-Saric said they’ll continue to work to address the dangers associated with water beads, which may include updating current safety standards.

“Water beads are marketed as fun sensory toys for kids but can be deadly to babies and small children if they are ingested,” CPSC chair Alexander Hoehn-Saric said in a statement. “CPSC urges all families, schools, camps, and child-care centers to keep water beads out of any spaces that babies and small children may enter.”

For now, Haugen warns parents that even the best supervision is not enough.

“Don’t buy them,” she said. “Don’t use them. Don’t bring them into your home.”

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About the Authors:

As a consumer reporter, Marilyn is all about helping people stay safe and save a buck. Since coming to KSAT in 1985, she’s covered everything from crime to politics, winning awards for her coverage of the Mexican Mafia, Oklahoma tornadoes, children’s transplants, an investigation into voting irregularities and even a hit-and-run Santa Claus.

Azian Bermea is a photojournalist at KSAT.