When parents thing about toy safety and young children, they mostly think about choking hazards from balls, marbles, and small toy parts.
Surprisingly, balloons cause more choking deaths than balls, marbles, or toy parts.
In addition to choking or aspirating on broken balloon pieces, some children suck in uninflated balloons while trying to blow them up. http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/5087.html
Part of the reason that so many children choke on balloons may be that parents underestimate the choking hazard from balloons, especially to older children. Although most toys with small parts are labeled as being a choking hazard to children under age 3 if they have small parts, it is important to remember the warning label that should be present on balloon packages:
CHOKING HAZARD - Children under 8 years can choke or suffocate on un-inflated or broken balloons.
Adult supervision required. Keep un-inflated balloons from children. Discard broken balloons at once.
- Balloons are not intended for children under 3 years old. Balloons that have not been inflated can cause suffocation if swallowed.
- Never attach balloons to a crib or a child's bed. Balloons with ribbons can cause strangulation of children under 3 years old.
- Children should never inflate helium balloons without adult supervision
- Always weight balloons and comply with applicable state and federal laws.