Two incidents overseas have led to a warning about the colourful elastic rings known as loom bands.

They’re the craft project kids can’t get enough of - but the Consumer team within the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) wants parents to be aware there can be some dangers in using them around younger children.

Loom bands are hugely popular in New Zealand, thanks in part to the Duchess of Cambridge wearing one on her tour down under, and are used to create things like jewellery and key rings by weaving them together on a loom board.

But two cases in the UK led the MBIE Consumer team to draw parents’ attention to the dangers.

A child was left blind in one eye after his brother accidentally pinged one of the bands at him.

Another boy fell asleep with a band wrapped around his fingers, which turned blue. His mother managed to get the band off him before any permanent damage occurred.

Parents are also warned to be aware of the choking risk, especially in children 36 months and younger.

Trading Standards, which oversees consumer product safety in New Zealand, recommends keeping the bands and finished products out of reach of young children and explaining the risks to older children.

Safety steps for parents:

  • Loom bands are not intended for children under the age of three years.
  • Make sure that young children are supervised when playing with the loom bands.
  • Make sure children use the loom boards and not their fingers.
  • Keep the loom bands out of the reach of small children and pets when they are not in use.
  • Make sure that children know not to wrap the bands around fingers or any other limbs.