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Mum's heartbreaking warning after baby almost dies from swallowing popular sensory toy

By Naomi White|

There have been renewed warnings over the dangers of water beads after a baby girl was left seriously injured from swallowing a single bead.

Folichia Mitchell is living every parent's worst nightmare after her nine-month-old daughter Kennedy swallowed one of her big brother's beads.

The popular sensory toy features marble-sized beads that can expand to 400 times their size when they come into contact with liquid.

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Folichia said ingesting this one tiny bead caused so much internal damage her daughter almost didn't make it. (TikTok)

Not only a choking hazard, they can also be toxic, leading to serious internal injuries if swallowed. The dangers have prompted the Australian ?Competition and Consumer Commission to urge business to stop selling them.

Documenting her family's experience on TikTok, Mitchell says she was unaware of the dangers these posed and is now campaigning to have these banned.

"She swallowed a water bead and it blocked up her intestine," she reveals through tears in the TikTok clip.

The mum, from Maine in the US, ?shared how she was unaware her daughter had swallowed one, until it had already caused significant damage.

"She went two days without eating anything," she told local news network WFAB9, "By the time we made it to Portland Hospital, she was not off the stretcher before she started vomiting bile."

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Kennedy was with significant injuries after swallowing a single water bead. (

Kennedy was taken to the pediatric ICU, placed on a ventilator and has since undergone multiple surgeries to try to repair some of the damage.?

Mitchell was told there was a chance Kennedy may not survive her injuries. The little girl almost lost her arm, too, due to a blood clot.

"I'm just scared every single second right now," she continued. "The bead blocked her small intestine, which made it swell so large it leaked into her body, and that caused sepsis and an infection."

"She's had three surgeries this week. Her lungs were struggling, her heart was struggling and her kidneys were struggling."

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Folicia and Kennedy before the toddler swallowed the bead. (TikTok)

To date, Kennedy has had five surgeries but Mitchell said it's likely she'll need more, sharing how doctors are still discovering the severity of the damage in an update following her fourth surgery.

"Today when they went in they wanted to close the bag she has on the outside of her body, holding her intestines in and allowing for the extra fluid to not crush her intestines," she said in a TikTok clip.

"(They couldn't do that because they discovered) part of her bowel was dying. Two pieces had to be removed and they're closed off from each other right now. They're hoping in two days they can go back in and reattach them."?

After spending two weeks in the ICU, Kennedy is finally strong enough to be moved into the children's ward.?

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The popular sensory toy is sold at major retailers in Australia. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Her story has prompted Australian first aid experts CPR Kids to issue a fresh warning to parents ahead of Christmas about the dangers of the toy, which are sold at many major retailers, including Kmart.

"Around this time each year, we hear from parents and carers asking us about the safety of water beads for sensory play, they shared.

"?Swallowing water beads can cause intestinal obstruction, vomiting, severe discomfort and dehydration and may lead to needing surgery to have them removed. They are also a choking hazard," they continued.

"It is important that water beads are used only for plants or in display items in the home and kept well away from little hands at all times."

Kennedy isn't the first child to be gravely injured by the beads. In 2017 Ashley Haugen's one-year-old daughter Kipley was poisoned after she swallowed multiple beads over a few weeks, unbenknownest to the family.

The beads were found inside her gastrointestinal tract during an emergency surgery. They left the toddler with a lifelong brain injury.?

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