Last week, US mummy Christina Kas turned to Facebook to send out a warning to all other mums: Beware of Spider Balls.
The cheap toy, which costs US$5 on Amazon.com, was given to Kas’ four-year-old son for Christmas and at first glance, looks like candy. Two-year-old Decklyn, her younger son, decided to pop one in his mouth (as toddlers do) and then, Kas’ nightmare began.
Here’s what she says in her Facebook post:
“The last 48 hours have been beyond scary and it’s still a waiting game, and we are one of the lucky ones who saw our child swallow this. Decklyn swallowed a piece of candy that was not candy at all!! It was something called Spider Balls that his brother got for Christmas.
“They come in a little zip lock bag making it look more like a snack and they look just like the candy nerds, they are tiny!! They expand 400x their size in water and multiply. One piece grows larger than a bouncy ball, then turns into 10-20 balls.
“Super scary and super dangerous. It can cause a bowel obstruction and be fatal if a parent does not see their child swallow it. Thank God he was literally right next to me, I just couldn’t get it out of his mouth before he swallowed. A horrible horrible kids toy.”
Kas explains that once in hospital, they couldn’t do much more than wait, because the material the toy is made out of cannot be X-rayed, so all the doctors could do was watch the little boy and make sure he passed it out.
On the next page, find out exactly why Spider Balls are so dangerous if ingested.
Why you should be really worried if your child gets hold of these toys
Spider Balls are made out of SAPs or a polymers. At first, SAPs are little, hard pellets. But when they come into contact with liquid, they expand up to 100 to 400 times their original size and turn into soft, squishy balls.
SAPs are usually used in agriculture as a practical way of hydrating plants. But now, it seems they have become popular in toy manufacturing too.
If a kid mistakes SAPs in their dry form for candy and swallows them, the consequences could be very serious.
This is because when food or drink follow the SAPs, the pellets will expand and become an intestinal blockage. In certain occasions, they can even puncture the wall of the intestine.
Luckily, in little Decklyn’s case, his mum noticed he swallowed the Spider Balls and so she was able to take immediate medical action. But if she hadn’t noticed, the outcome may have been quite different.
Parents, the obvious lesson to learn from incidents such as this is to avoid giving babies and toddlers any toy that could pose a health risk if ingested. Always buy age appropriate toys and steer away from those toys made by unknown manufacturers, and/or that have no parental reviews.
What are some other hazardous toys you think parents should be aware of? If you know of any, please do let us know what they are in a comment below.