Kids Safety 101
young boy with magnetic toy set

Small Magnet Ingestion on the Rise: What You Need to Know

For years, small, strong magnets were outlawed for sale in the US. That’s because they’re a massive hazard for young children.

Since these small magnets have been unbanned, there has been an increase in the number of hospitalizations over magnet ingestion. It is vitally important that parents know about the risks posed by magnets before they buy them for their children.

While some parents think these small magnets are a fun for young children, they’re not toys at all and should be kept far from the reach of kids. Proper children’s toys will be large enough to not be swallowed. This is vitally important, as small magnets that can be ingested may become deadly if more than one is swallowed.

Swallowing Magnets Is a Huge Hazard

Normally, a child swallowing a small metal object would be nerve-wracking… but likely not life-threatening. Magnets, however, are much scarier. If a child ingests more than one such magnet, the odds that they become injured are much higher. Magnet pairs can result in serious damage to the intestinal tract, as they can become hung up on one another through the walls of the intestines. This, in turn, can be life-threatening, as it can cause internal bleeding and organ injuries.

Needless to say, this is a terrifying prospect. As such, any small magnet sets should be kept far from small children. While they might be fun fidget devices for teenagers or adults, they’re not toys for children.

Should they Have Stayed Banned?

Some child safety advocates have questioned why the small magnets were ever unbanned. Arguments against the magnets hold that uninformed parents often thoughtlessly purchase the small magnet sets as gifts for young children, inadvertently putting them in danger. However, not everyone agrees.

Others argue that it’s up to parents to be aware of hazardous items and to steer clear of introducing those items to a child. For instance, many parents know that electrical outlets are dangerous for some children, so they place plastic covers over them to keep toddlers from stuffing forks into them.

Many older children love magnets as fidget toys. In the case of a child who is old enough to understand that they shouldn’t be swallowing the magnets, there’s no safety concern at all. As such, it makes sense that the items would be unbanned. However, they remain a hazard to young children, so they should be kept out of reach of kids younger than five.

Cameron Norris