Massive Retailers Will No Longer Offer Harmful Water Bead Toys

( – Every year, it seems like there’s a new trend in toys—the hottest, must-have items that make kids’ eyes light up. One of those recent products was water beads, which were coveted because of their ability to soak up liquid and expand, creating a sensory experience that’s pleasing to the mind. However, there’s a dark side to these beads. They are not only choking hazards, but they’re easily swallowed, which also poses an extreme danger. Now, three major retailers have pledged to stop offering the products for sale.

The Dangers of Water Beads

One glimpse at the water beads, and you might think they look harmless. However, that’s far from the case. Because they’re so small, they can easily roll away, where they end up in the hands—and mouths—of vulnerable children and pets.

Taylor Bethard knows the dangers all too well. She lost her 10-month-old daughter this year after the baby ingested one of the beads, which came from a kit she purchased for one of her older children before her daughter was even born. Because they can expand 150 to 1500 times their original size, they can cause intestinal blockage. An autopsy revealed one of these beads was lodged in her daughter’s intestines.

That’s not the only incident, though. The previous November, a 9-month-old nearly suffered a similar fate and needed surgery to remove the beads. Fortunately, she survived. There were nearly 8,000 other incidences reported between 2016 and 2022, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Bethard has been an advocate for getting the products recalled since her baby’s death.

Target, Walmart, and Amazon Join Forces

After experiencing increasing pressure from health advocates and lawmakers alike, three major retailers have pledged to stop selling the product by the end of this year. Amazon was the first to yield, saying it would no longer allow the product on its site as of December 22.

Target, Walmart, and handmade marketplace Etsy also confirmed to CBS News that they have agreed to stop selling the product. A Walmart spokesperson said the company had “already taken steps to remove” the products from its physical and online stores. Target removed the product responsible for Bethard’s daughter’s death from its stores and notified consumers about the potential dangers it poses.

Alibaba, a Chinese marketplace, issued a press release in October, noting that it would not be selling the water beads to US customers.

Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (R-NJ), sent out a press release in late November cautioning parents against buying them for the holiday season.

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