Are Mardi Gras Beads Safe for Kids?

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Throw me something mister! Before heading out to the parade route, here’s a refresher on what throws are (and are not) safe for young kids.

Mardi Gras Beads

Mardi Gras beads are one of the most common and popular throws at parades. However, these strands of beads are not safe for very young children because they pose a choking and strangulation hazard.

Other risks associated with Mardi Gras beads include:

  • Long beads on small children can get caught on things, making it easy for children to trip and fall.
  • Depending on where the throws are made, they can be contaminated with lead and other toxins. Children should not suck or chew on Mardi Gras beads.
  • If a child is hit in the face or head with a bag of beads this can cause head injuries (including concussions), eye injuries and dental injuries.  
  • Children may detach the Mardi Gras beads and stick a single Mardi Gras bead or small throws in their nose or ear and sometimes these must be removed by a physician.

What should you do if you think your kid has swallowed a Mardi Gras bead or part of a throw?

If your child exhibits any of these symptoms, they may have swallowed a Mardi Gras bead (or something else) and need immediate medical attention:

  • Coughing
  • Gagging
  • Choking or drooling
  • Abdominal pain
  • Inability to eat or drink

If your child swallows a single Mardi Gras bead without a button battery and is not coughing, choking or drooling and is able to breath, eat, and drink normally, and is not complaining of any pain, then you can have your child see their pediatrician and wait for it to pass in the stool.

Beyond beads, other throws to watch out for include:

  • Some Mardi Gras throws may have small parts that can become choking hazards when separated.  A good rule to remember? Anything that fits inside a toilet paper tube or has small parts that if separated would fit inside a toilet paper tube, is a choking hazard and children less than three years old should not play with it. 
  • Any toys or beads that light up may have button batteries in them, which can be very dangerous if swallowed. 
  • The plastic bags throws come in can be a suffocation hazard and should not be given to young children.

Remember – not every throw is safe for your child. Check the throws that your child receives prior to allowing them to play with it. If you aren’t comfortable with something your child catches at a parade, try to “trade” the throw for an age appropriate toy.

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