Popped water balloons are a tot lot choking hazard, parents claim

Popped water balloons are a tot lot choking hazard, parents claim
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Big kids with water balloons have turned a Prospect Park tot lot into a choking hazard for toddlers, say concerned Brooklyn parents.

It’s not the water fights that are the problem, it’s the little bits of latex left on the ground in the recreation area for rug rats at the Vanderbilt Playground — and the children and parents who refuse to clean up the mess, according to worried moms and dads.

“It always makes me nervous as a mom to see these little pieces of balloons everywhere,” said Alexa Orr, who brings her young daughter and baby son to the tot lot in the park’s southwest corner.

“Since my daughter started crawling, I couldn’t believe all of the junk on the ground,” she said.

The fenced-off section for little tykes is just a fraction of the playground’s total real estate, but a sprinkling water sculpture makes it appealing for children well over the posted age limit of 5.

But that water sculpture has turned the play area into the frontline for water-balloon battles — and parents with young children say there must be a better place for the splash fights.

“I have nothing against kids playing with water balloons, but it shouldn’t be in the area with the toddlers,” said Abby Wolfson, a mother of a 9-month-old who started a lively discussion of the issue on a local listserv, where other moms and dads accused her of being a “helicopter parent.”

Less-worried parents say the broken water balloons are just another example of would-be hazards that those caring for toddlers can never truly eliminate.

“When you are a first-time parent, I understand why it might concern you,” said Liliana Arzate, in the playground with her children, ages 9, 6, and 3. “But I bring my kids here because they like the water.”

Wolfson scoffed at the notion that she is being overprotective — saying that when the rubber hits the road, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

“I’m a big believer in bumped heads and skinned knees, but it’s my responsibility to make sure my kid isn’t putting garbage and things she can choke on in her mouth,” she said. “Maybe we could have a sign that says, ‘Please keep water balloons out of the toddler area,’ and have another that says, ‘Please clean up.’ ”

A spokeswoman from the Parks Department said there are no restrictions on water balloon use in city parks, and would not say whether the city will consider adding signs to the tot lot.

Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow him at twitter.com/emrosenberg.

Broken water balloons in a Prospect Park tot lot are interesting — and dangerous — to baby Calliope Wolfson, says mom Abby Wolfson.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini