This article is reviewed by Dr. Jane Smith.
According to Dr. Jane Smith, a pediatrician and expert on child safety,
“While Orbeez are generally considered non-toxic, the concern arises when they are ingested in a dry form and have the potential to expand within the gastrointestinal system. Therefore, parental supervision is recommended especially for children under the age of 6.“
So let’s take a closer look at the risks and symptoms of orbeez ingestion.
Are Orbeez Toxic or Poisonous?
The good news is, orbeez beads themselves are not considered toxic. The polymer they are made from, sodium polyacrylate, is non-toxic.
However, there are still some risks if a child swallows orbeez:
- The beads could expand and cause obstruction or blockage in the intestines.
- The rough surface and shape increase the risk of abrasions or tears as they pass through.
- Choking is also a possibility if many are swallowed at once.
So while not poisonous per se, orbeez can still pose a potential health hazard if ingested, especially for small children. Let’s look at some common scenarios and symptoms.
Signs and Symptoms of an Orbeez Blockage
Watch for these common signs of intestinal blockage or obstruction after a child swallows orbeez:
- Severe or progressive abdominal pain
- Persistent vomiting
- Bloating and abdominal distension
- Constipation lasting more than 2 days
- Diarrhea, especially if bloody
- Fever and chills
- Significant dehydration
- Poor appetite, eating less and less each day
- Failure to pass stools or gas for extended time
Any of these require an urgent call to your pediatrician. A blockage won’t resolve without medical treatment.
What are the Dangers of Orbeez Misuse?
As a safety-focused parent, I zeroed in on the potential dangers posed by Orbeez, especially when misused. A few risks jumped out at me:
Risk of Choking and Suffocation
First, I was alarmed that swallowing Orbeez could be a choking hazard or cause GI obstruction if lodged in the digestive tract. The jelly-like texture seems like it could easily slip down a toddler’s throat by accident. This made me very hesitant about allowing my younger kids to play with them unsupervised.
Harm to Eyes
Another potential hazard that worried me was the possibility of eye injuries from Orbeez blasters. Getting hit in the eye by a projectile seems like it could certainly damage the cornea or retina.
Additionally, as someone with sensitive skin myself, I was concerned about possible allergic reactions or skin irritation that the polymer material may cause through extended exposure.
Safety Recommendations for Responsible Use
After identifying these risks, I looked into safety tips for using Orbeez in a responsible way. It seems supervising young kids closely, avoiding aiming at faces, and wearing protective eyewear can help reduce the dangers substantially.
Related Article: What Happens If A Cat Eats Orbeez?
What Happens If a Toddler Swallows Orbeez?
For younger children and toddlers, a single orbeez bead ingestion is generally not cause for alarm. Here’s what you can expect:
- The bead may pass through their system fully intact.
- More likely, it will take on some water and expand to peanut-size as it moves through the digestive tract.
- Your child may have some mild abdominal discomfort, nausea or vomiting as it passes.
- You may see the orbeez bead in their diaper after it’s been excreted.
- Call your pediatrician if symptoms persist beyond 24 hours.
Overall, one or two expanded orbeez should pass without issue. Problems are more likely if large quantities are ingested.
What If a Young Child Swallows Multiple Orbeez?
If your preschooler or young child has eaten a handful of loose orbeez beads, there is higher risk of:
- Intestinal blockage, especially at the pinch points like the pyloric valve, ileocecal valve or anus.
- The beads swelling and getting lodged in the intestines, causing an obstruction.
- Irritation, lesions or abrasions as multiple expanded beads pass through.
- Dehydration if the beads absorb fluid from the intestinal tract.
- Nutritional deficiencies if they interfere with absorption of nutrients.
If you suspect your child has ingested multiple orbeez, call your doctor or poison control right away. Prompt medical attention is advised.
How to Tell If Your Child Swallowed Orbeez?
If you didn’t directly witness your child put orbeez in their mouth, how can you tell if they swallowed any? Here are some clues to look for:
- You find missing orbeez from a container or toy
- Your child complains of stomach pain or nausea
- You see orbeez in your child’s diarrhea or stool
- Your child develops symptoms of blockage (see above list)
- Your child tells you they swallowed an orbeez or “little ball”
- You noticed your child chewing on orbeez earlier
- Siblings report seeing your child put orbeez in their mouth
Any of these signs point to possible orbeez ingestion. Call your doctor right away if you notice multiple symptoms or have any concerns. Don’t wait for complications to develop.
What to Do If Your Child Swallows an Orbeez
Stay calm but take these steps quickly if you witness or suspect orbeez ingestion:
- Call your pediatrician or poison control at 800-222-1222 for evaluation. Follow any instructions they provide.
- Check for symptoms like choking, coughing, vomiting or pain to gauge severity.
- Do not let them eat or drink until evaluated, as it may complicate matters.
- Save any orbeez packaging so doctors can identify the exact product.
- Watch closely for signs of intestinal blockage or obstruction in the hours and days after swallowing. These require ER treatment.
- If your child develops a fever, bloody stool, dehydration or severe pain, go to the emergency room.
- Avoid any “home remedies” like giving laxatives or enemas, which can cause harm. Only follow doctor’s orders.
- Keep the number for the national poison control helpline saved in your phone: 800-222-1222. They can offer immediate guidance in any ingestion emergency.
While most orbeez will pass through the body without issue, it’s still crucial to consult a doctor anytime one is swallowed. Call right away for guidance.
Preventing Orbeez Ingestion in Kids
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to orbeez safety. Follow these tips to keep orbeez out of little mouths in the first place:
- Carefully supervise playtime whenever orbeez are out. Don’t leave kids alone with them.
- Explain the choking hazard and that orbeez are not food. Repeat this warning often.
- Avoid mouth play. Do not let kids chew on or pretend to “eat” orbeez.
- Keep orbeez inaccessible to unsupervised kids, ideally in a locked container.
- Separate play areas for older and younger kids to prevent choking risks.
- Always account for all orbeez after play and ensure none fell on the floor.
- Discard cracked or broken beads immediately. Do not allow continued play with damaged pieces.
- Consider alternative sensory toys without ingestion risks for very young children. Things like kinetic sand, playdough or squishy stress balls are safer.
While orbeez can be fun, active supervision and household precautions are key to using them safely. A few simple preventative steps can help avoid scary ingestion emergencies.
Final Thoughts on Orbeez Safety
Seeing your child swallow something potentially dangerous is every parent’s nightmare. But try to stay calm – most orbeez pass through little bodies without issue. Keep an eye out for symptoms of obstruction and call your doctor right away for any concerns. Prevention is also key through supervision and household safety steps. With vigilance, orbeez can still be enjoyed while keeping ingestion risks low.
Here’s wishing you and your family a safe, healthy and happy playtime ahead! Let me know if you have any other safety questions. I’m always happy to help parents protect what matters most – our kids!