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Chuckle & Roar water bead kits recalled after infant death: Consumer Reports statement

WASHINGTON, DC – Consumer Reports (CR) today called on the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to investigate potential violations of federal law after the agency announced the recall of Chuckle & Roar Ultimate Water Beads Activity Kits. The CPSC linked these kits, manufactured by Buffalo Games and sold exclusively at Target, to the severe injury of a Maine infant in November 2022 and the tragic death of a Wisconsin infant in July 2023.  

Water beads—small, absorbent gel balls that can expand and are often marketed as toys or learning aids—pose serious safety risks, especially for infants and children. Today’s CPSC announcement states that water beads “can pose ingestion, choking, and intestinal obstruction hazards inside a child’s body, resulting in severe discomfort, vomiting, dehydration, and a risk of death to a child.” According to the agency, an estimated 4,500 emergency department visits associated with water beads occurred in the five-year 2017-2021 period.

William Wallace, associate director of safety policy for Consumer Reports, said: “If you have these Chuckle & Roar water bead kits, it’s critical to take part in the recall and return them immediately for a full refund. Water beads can pose serious safety risks, especially if ingested by a child.

“This recall and its timeline raise many questions. Why didn’t Buffalo Games recall these kits earlier, after it learned of serious injuries and before a baby died? Why is the company recalling just this kit and not also other similar water bead products? Why didn’t Target do more to reach its customers directly and warn them? The CPSC must get to the bottom of the failures that led to this preventable tragedy, and if it finds that anyone broke the law, it should issue stern penalties to deter future wrongdoing.”

CR urges parents, caregivers, and teachers to take immediate action to protect their children. The organization recommends that everyone who has the recalled water beads should follow all instructions to complete the recall process, either by taking the product to a Target store or signing up to receive a prepaid mailing package at chuckleandroar.com/recall. Water beads can pose serious risks to children, and CR strongly advises those with these kits to keep the beads in a secure container, out of sight and out of reach of children, until they have returned them.

For more information, please see Consumer Reports’ coverage of this recall at CR.org.

Media Contact: Emily Akpan, emily.akpan@consumer.org