Small bouncy balls – the choking dangers for children
Stories about young children who’ve choked on small rubber balls or bouncy balls break our hearts ? Here’s what you need to know about the choking hazards for children…
But small objects like coins, batteries, marbles, toy parts and bouncy balls are also choking hazards to watch out for – because they’re small enough to get lodged in or block your child’s airway.
When it comes to bouncy balls, it’s SO important to be vigilant - because though there seems to be a toy manufacturer guideline in place to make sure children don’t choke on them, it can still happen.
We certainly don't want to cause anyone a lot of worry by highlighting this - though we do hope some of the below info is really useful to keep in mind ?
One mum's devastating story
We’ve seen stories about a US boy almost choking after swallowing a rubber ball, and the very sad story of a 10-year-old who died doing the same?
But one mum in particular has gone in to great detail about her own horror story – in order to help warm other parents of the dangers...
The picture here shows little Alby in the afternoon on the day before his 4th birthday party: he told his mum he couldn't wait to go bed as he was so excited for the next day to come. Tragically, though, Alby died exactly 40 minutes after this photo was taken.
His mum, Anna Davis, from Tasmania, who has 2 more children and is pregnant with her 4th child, shared on Instagram how her son choked on one of the bouncy balls meant for his party bags.
She revealed that the ball was larger than the coin size recommended for toys for young children and, although the packet had a warning that it was a toy not recommend for children under 3, Alby was playing with it just before his 4th birthday.
Anna posted about the fatal accident on her Small folk Instagram page but then, after some cruel comments, felt she had to post a second time to clarify – or defend – what had happened, saying this:
"As the media storm surrounding our family swirled yesterday, I beg you... to disregard the many ignorant, hurtful and incorrect assumptions that have been formed regarding the more specific details of Alby’s passing.
"The heartache we are already experiencing is indescribable, and to know there are ill-informed stories and subsequent false accusations circulating, initiated by some incredibly heartless people at this time, only exacerbates our pain.
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"To very briefly clarify some of the most widely spread misconceptions: yes, of course I tried to save our beautiful boy (including, but not only, undertaking CPR for 16 excruciating minutes until paramedics arrived), I was three feet away from Alby when the incident occurred and was by his side within seconds.
"The ball was larger than the 50c piece/film canister size-recommendation for toys given to young children, and the ball packaging states ‘not for children under 3 years’. Being only a few days away from turning 4, Alby was almost 1 year older than this advice.
"We thank you again, from the bottom of our hearts, for the love and sympathy you have so graciously expressed. Knowing fellow mamas and papas are encircling our family, sharing in our grief, and clutching their babies a little tighter, brings us great comfort. Our golden boy will live on in us all ? "
So, what safety guidelines are in place?
To be honest, there’s not a lot of clear-cut safety advice or info out there specifically about bouncy ball size.
HOWEVER, we do know that bouncy balls are not allowed to be sold for kids under 3 if they are smaller than 1.75inches. That's roughly equivalent to 4.5cm, which is approximately the size of a child’s windpipe.
Any small bouncy ball that doesn’t meet those guidelines has to be sold for children older than 3, and has to display a choking hazard warning on the packaging.
So, you should definitely keep your eyes peeled for the size of any bouncy ball you’re buying, before you buy it ✊
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) weren't able to add much, with public health adviser Sheila Merrill telling us:
“RoSPA is aware of children swallowing, inhaling or choking on items such as small toys, peanuts and marbles, so parents should ensure that these types of objects are kept out of reach of children under 3-years-old.
“Babies and small children are particularly at risk from choking because they examine things around them by putting them in their mouths.
"Choking hazards can happen so quickly as young children are inquisitive and adventurous, and are not aware of the consequences of their actions.”
(We've also reached our to children's accident charity CAPT, and we'll let you know if we hear back.)
What else should you think about?
Even if the ball is bigger than 1.75inches, that doesn’t mean there isn’t the very small chance it could get lodged in the top of a child’s throat, rather than further down their windpipe – which could still block off the air supply.
We can only assume that this is what happened in poor Alby Davis’s case, as his PJ Masks bouncy balls were much bigger than an Aussie 50p coin ?
We’d also say you should keep an eye on any rubber balls for signs of wear and tear, that could lead to small rubbery parts breaking off.
(RoSPA recommends checking your child’s favourite toys regularly, anyway, just to be safe.)
There’s also no guidelines to stop people selling bouncy balls in shops or vending machines with, or beside, sweeties. You don’t want to confuse the 2, encouraging little ones to put them in their mouths – so perhaps best to buy elsewhere.
And, generally speaking, we’d say only buy toys from brands you trust, toys that carry the European standard CE mark and keep your eyes as peeled as poss during playtime ?
Images: Getty Images, Instagram/Anna Davis