Balloons aren’t for children younger than 3

I do want to take a moment to talk about something that happened last weekend at the Push, Pull and Pedal event (a fundraiser for the Madison Children’s Hospital) where I was twisting balloon animals. Most of the time went fine, until one woman asked me to make a balloon for her toddler.

The problem is, balloons are a serious choking hazard for children under the age of 3, since they are still exploring the world with their mouths. Should the child bite down on a twisted balloon (which is fairly tight with air pressure), if it pops a piece can fly down the child’s throat, lay flat across the windpipe, and the child will die. For that reason, I will not make balloons for children under the age of three.

When I’m doing line work (ie. twisting balloon animals for a line of people), every 2 minutes (literally) I announce to the line that I CANNOT and WILL NOT make balloons for a child younger than 3. When the inevitable parent comes to the front of the line and ignores that, I tell them (and the line) that when the child bites the balloon, if it pops, a piece can go down the throat and lie flat across the windpipe. I also mention that my insurance won’t permit it. If they insist, or say that the parents will hold it for the youngster (which, years ago, I foolishly believed them and watched as they walked away and gave the balloon to the child), I simply refuse, politely yet firmly.

Which takes me back to last weekend. After telling the adult female with the child that, she looked me in the eyes and said, “So, you won’t make one for him then?”

No, I won’t — I want clowns and balloons to be a source of joy, and not tragedy. The purpose of the story is this: when a balloon twister tells you that they cannot make a balloon for an underage child, they are trying to preserve your child’s life; please listen to them.