Slime Time: Is It Safe for Kids?

If you have a kid in your house, you’re likely familiar with the latest crafting craze taking over kitchens: slime. This ooey, gooey mixture is most commonly made from borax, white glue, and water. Many also spruce up their creations with ingredients such as food coloring, glitter, shaving cream, and lotion. Making slime is a great lesson in science and creativity, but is it safe?

That question has popped up as news reports have come out about children suffering burns and skin rashes from the slime. The potential culprit is borax, also known as sodium borate. You’ll find borax in products like cleaning supplies and laundry detergents. If ingested in large amounts, borax can be harmful—although it would take several teaspoons for a child in elementary school to notice its effects. It can also possibly get absorbed through skin damaged by cuts, burns, eczema, or other irritations if handled often. Signs of too much borax exposure include skin redness, an upset stomach, nausea, and irritability.

The good news for slime fans is that the DIY mixture is unlikely to provide enough exposure to be a problem. Still, there are some precautions you should take to keep slime time fun and injury-free:

  • Always supervise children while making slime.

  • Keep borax out of reach of small children, and scoop it carefully so that less dust is created (the particles can be irritating to eyes, throats, and noses).

  • Wear gloves when mixing slime, and wash hands and arms right after. It’s also a good idea to wash hands after playing with it.

  • Don’t allow eating or drinking during the slime-making process.

  • For young kids prone to putting things in their mouth, look for alternative slime recipes that are edible. It can also be made with ingredients like cornstarch, dietary fiber supplements, condensed milk, and powdered drink mixes.

  • Skip the slime if your child has open wounds or broken skin.

  • Consider limiting the amount of time per day your child handles the slime—perhaps 30 minutes to an hour.

If you suspect your child is having an adverse reaction to slime—or any other substance—call your pediatrician or the American Association of Poison Control Centers at 800-222-1222. They can provide advice on what to do.

 

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