Amazon, Target and Walmart stop selling water pearls – GMA

WATCH: CPSC recalls water beads

Amazon, Target and Walmart, three of the largest retailers in the U.S., have announced they will stop selling water pearls as pressure to discontinue the products has mounted in recent years following reports of injuries and deaths have been reported by children swallowing them or putting them in their noses or ears.

Although water beads – often marketed as sensory toys and toys for children with developmental disabilities – may seem harmless at first glance, the small balls made of polymers can be dangerous. According to the National Capital Poison Center, when they come into contact with liquids, they can “expand to the size of a tennis ball,” about 150 to 1,500 times their original size.

An Amazon spokesperson confirmed to “Good Morning America” ​​that they have updated their Water Pearl policy for third-party sellers and are committed to reviewing store listings for Water Pearl products.

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A general view outside an Amazon UK Services Ltd warehouse at Leeds Distribution Park, December 13, 2023, in Leeds, United Kingdom.

“For safety reasons, Amazon will no longer allow the sale of water beads marketed to children, including as toys, art supplies, or sensory play,” the statement said. “We work hard to ensure that the products offered in our store are safe and we have teams dedicated to developing and updating our policies, evaluating offerings and continually monitoring our store to prevent that unsafe and non-compliant products are listed.”

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Target, which previously sold a children’s water bead set from Buffalo Games that was recalled in September, also said it would stop selling water beads in stores and online to children under 12.

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A sign is posted outside a Target store in Oakland, California, on September 29, 2023.

“At Target, the safety of our guests is our top priority. Given growing safety concerns, we will no longer sell water beads marketed to children,” a Target spokesperson told “Good Morning America.”

Walmart also announced it would remove Water Pearls from its shelves and website.

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A Walmart store on Black Friday in Secaucus, NJ, November 24, 2023.

“The safety of our customers will always be our top priority,” a Walmart spokesperson told “GMA.” “We have decided to voluntarily stop selling expanding water bead toys and crafts for young children and have already taken steps to remove them from our stores and online.”

For years, some parents have warned about the dangers of water beads, while the Consumer Product Safety Commission has published reports of water bead injuries to babies and children.

MORE: Mother speaks out about daughter’s death after Water Pearls recall

In September, Wisconsin mother Taylor Bethard spoke to Philadelphia ABC affiliate WPVI about the death of her 10-month-old daughter Esther after ingesting a water pearl. Bethard said she wanted to “make sure no other family has to go through this.” [they] experience.”

“It’s a terrible feeling to lose your child. No parent should ever have to go through something like this. And if we can just save a few children by sharing, then it’s worth it for us to share,” Bethard said.

Approximately 52,000 of Buffalo Games’ Chuckle & Roar Ultimate Water Beads Activity Kits, a water bead toy, were recalled in September. At the time, the toy company told ABC News that it was taking “customer safety very seriously.”

“Prior to selling the Ultimate Water Beads Kit, Buffalo Games followed CPSC regulations, as we do with every product, and had the product tested by an independent CPSC-approved laboratory in accordance with children’s product safety standards,” the Buffalo company said , New York-based company in a statement. “The product has passed the tests required by standards, including ASTM standards for expanding materials. The product is suitable for children aged 4 and over and carries a choking hazard warning on the packaging.”

“Buffalo Games takes the safety of its customers very seriously and consumers should contact us by email, telephone or via the website to return the Ultimate Water Beads to us for a full refund,” the company added.

Concerned parents should remove any water beads their children may have. In an emergency, parents can also call the National Poison Help Line, available 24 hours a day at 800-222-1222. The Consumer Product Safety Commission also encourages parents to report any water bead injuries or hazardous product experiences at