What's the Deal with Water Beads?

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During this week of LEAP, you may have noticed some squishy yellow and orange beads in the sensory bin. You likely had loads of questions about these little orbs. Well, we love water beads and we especially love how child-friendly they are. Let us put your mind at ease and convert you into a water bead fan!

Okay… but what are they?

These little beads are made of a water-absorbent gel. They start out small, the size of a freckle, and grow when mixed with water. When squeezed hard enough, the beads will crumble not burst.

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Are water beads safe for my toddler?

With supervision, absolutely. We always make sure to use non-toxic brands at LEAP, so ingestion is not a concern. Choking is the largest risk associated with water beads, so it is important to supervise little ones. Looking for more ways to safely use water beads? Check out the following links:

Are they reusable? Environmentally friendly?

They are reusable! You can dehydrate the beads by laying them on a flat surface and allowing the water to evaporate. Then, simply add water to see them regrow. If you’re looking to get rid of your current stash to make room for new water beads, you can add them to soil. Many brands use environmentally friendly materials that will decompose over time, helping provide your plants with moisture.

Why should I use them?

For starters, they are loads of fun! Filling buckets, hiding treasures, and dunking little hands will provide hours of play. They also offer an amazing sensory experience. It’s wonderful to see little ones’ faces when they first stick their hand into a bin full of water beads. Sometimes that first dip is unsettling – it’s a strange texture! With a little time, however, LEAPers learn that these beads are magical. They’re squishy, cold, and see-through! For some additional sensory fun, try some of the following tips:


Stick your water beads in the fridge or freezer for an hour or two for a chilly blast! Keep an eye on them - if they freeze for too long, they’ll become a solid block.

Mix colors! You can find assorted colors on Amazon, both individually packaged and mixed.

Use a light table! Find a storage bin with a clear lid and place a strand of Christmas lights inside. Lay your water beads on top and watch as the light shines and glows through your water beads.

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Add a scent! Typically, water beads are hydrated in a bowl of water. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil (Remember the lavender scented blue rice?!) and tap into another of the five senses.

Fill a kiddie pool! Once your toddler has mastered the sensory bin of water beads, take it up a level. On a hot day, fill a small kiddie pool with water beads and enjoy an even more amazing sensory experience.

Water beads are one of our favorite sensory bin fillers. From storage to versatility, these tiny beads are the perfect play material to have on hand. Have you tried water beads at home? Let us know!

Written by Nicole Filippone