BERWICK, Maine (WJW) – A mom from Berwick, Maine, wants to warn others — especially parents — after her 9-month-old daughter accidentally swallowed a water bead toy. It led to five surgeries for little Kennedy Mitchell.

According to Folichia Mitchell who documented her story on TikTok, her daughter swallowed the water bead in late October. Mitchell says she bought the water beads under the Chuckle & Roar brand from Target.

The bead swelled inside her intestine, creating a blockage.

They didn’t know that until they got to the hospital. According to Folichia, on Nov. 1, they went to the hospital because Kennedy wasn’t feeling well. The baby had emergency surgery.

When the bead was removed, Kennedy got an infection and required four more surgeries, Folichia says.

Kennedy was in the hospital for four weeks.

Mitchell bought the water beads for her 9-year-old. She thinks Kennedy found one on the floor that her son accidentally dropped.

She’s pushing for more warnings for water beads. You can see a link to her petition here.

FOX 8 reached out to Chuckle & Roar and Target for comment.

In a statement to FOX 8, Target said:

“We’re aware of this tragic situation and send our heartfelt sympathy to this child and her family. Target requires our vendors to comply with all product safety standards, and all state, federal and local laws. We have removed the product from stores and Target.com while we review the situation with the vendor.”

Target

According to Poison Control, water beads are responsible for one known death, a six-month-old boy who suffered a bowel blockage.

They report the child had the water bead removed but suffered an infection, like Kennedy.

There are other reports of children who have been hospitalized after ingesting a water bead.

What are water beads?

Water beads are made from superabsorbent polymers. 

When exposed to fluids such as water, they can absorb and retain hundreds of times their weight in water.

This allows the beads to increase their size by 150-1500 times after exposure to water, according to Poison Control. Some of these beads are the size of a marble initially and can expand to the size of a tennis ball after they are exposed to water.

What are water beads used for?

Water beads were initially used for plants, to maintain soil moisture.

Currently, they are marketed as children’s sensory toys.