A quick and easy method for making DIY Edible Waterbeads for safe sensory play. These waterbeads are completely edible and can be made in bright rainbow colors – perfect for toddlers who may still be tasting everything!
DIY Edible Rainbow Waterbeads
We’ve been using waterbeads since Ella was two years old, and while they are a favorite – they are not safe for little kids who are still in the “tasting” phase, or if you have little ones crawling around who might find spilled waterbeads and give them a taste. Waterbeads are made out of absorbent materials that, while non-toxic, are not safe for internal consumption and can be a choking hazard and have been linked to toxic shock syndrome (as they remain in the body long after consumption occurs).
While sensory play has amazing benefits for children’s emotional, physical and mental development, nothing is worth putting your child at risk. If there is even the slightest risk that your child may want to taste a waterbead – please, do not use synthetic waterbeads and use this recipe instead.
This recipe for edible waterbeads removes the risk associated with the absorbent waterbeads typically found in waterbead sensory bins and can be substituted in almost any sensory play activity that involves real waterbeads.
We made them with the same boba (tapioca pearls) that you would find in a bubble tea! Ella loves extra tapioca pearls in her bubble tea, so I knew she’d love this recipe (and that there’d be plenty of tasting involved).
These edible waterbeads are somewhat sticky, but that isn’t an issue if they are submerged in water. If you are not adding them to a water bin, be sure to rinse well to remove as much sticky residue as possible. We wanted to add bright color to our beads, so ours are a bit stickier since we didn’t rinse them too much to risk washing away the color (they probably would have still been pretty if I did rinse well, but pretty pictures trumped stickiness for us – and my daughter didn’t mind the texture.)
You can also add scent or flavor to these waterbeads using flavor extracts, giving so many possibilities for well-rounded sensory play! You can also just make one or two colors, as needed. We just always take the opportunity to make rainbow sensory bins.
We used our rainbow waterbeads in our Inside Out-inspired Emotions Sensory Bin which was an awesome opportunity for connection and emotional intelligence building – especially if your little one is a Disney fan!
Ingredients for Edible Rainbow Waterbeads
- One or two packages quick-cook tapioca pearls
- Water, as called for
- Food dye in rainbow colors
Tip: tapioca pearls often come in rainbow colors so you can skip dying them, but I find the colors very muted and wanted bright, distinct colors
Tip 2: you can cook the tapioca pearls separately in colored water to skip a step – but that involves 6 different pots which was more work to me!
Kitchen Tools You May Find Helpful
- 6 small bowls or containers
- plastic tub
How to Make Edible Rainbow Waterbeads
First, prepare the tapioca pearls as directed on the package. (Different packages may vary.)
Rinse the tapioca pearls really well under cold water to reduce stickiness.
Divide the tapioca pearls into 6 small bowls or plastic containers, and add several drops of food dye to each.
Rinse the beads to remove sticky excess residue again.
(I let the beads sit for about 20 minutes before rinsing to let the color soak in, but that may not have been necessary.)
Arrange the tapioca pearls in a small plastic tub in rainbow order.
Swirl, eat and play with your rainbow waterbeads sensory bin!
Store the waterbeads in the fridge in between plays – and dispose of them after a week.
Need some ideas for how to use your edible rainbow sensory beads (other than our awesome Inside Out sensory bin)? Here are a few quick and easy ideas that you can use these edible rainbow water beads for:
- add some cool whip or whipped cream for a rainbow and clouds sensory bin
- Add spoons or tongs and some bowls or cups for children to do some rainbow sorting
- knead the edible waterbeads into some edible slime for a fun take on Waterbead Slime
- add toy figures or characters for interactive sensory bins
- add water scoops and funnels for some splashy sensory play
- freeze them for some icy sensory play – breaking them with toy hammers, squishing, etc. (not safe for tasters as freezing them makes them a choking hazard)
- add to a plastic bottle for a rainbow sensory bottle
What other ideas do you have to use these edible rainbow waterbeads for?
Grab your free printable for our DIY edible rainbow waterbeads recipe:
This edible rainbow sensory bin is a fun way to let young kids play with waterbeads without worrying about them eating something they shouldn’t! And of course, everything is better in rainbow colors!