Which of your toddler’s toys do you think is the most dangerous? According to the US Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), toy vehicles account for more than 11,000 injuries every year, or 13 percent of all reported toy-related injuries, making them the most dangerous toys in your house.
Overall, the CPSC estimates there are about 265,000 toy-related injuries in the United States every year that are serious enough to require a trip to the emergency room. Of these, almost 90,000 occur in children under age five, with an average of 11 resulting in deaths.
Besides toy vehicles, other categories that involve the most injuries include:
- Non-motorized Scooters: 10% (8,600 estimated injuries)
- Dolls, Plush Toys, and Action Figures: 8% (6,700 estimated injuries)
- Toy Balls: 7% (6,100 estimated injuries)
Some of the most dangerous items in your house may not be the toys themselves, but their components or packaging:
Button batteries are found in everything from remote controls to musical greeting cards. If swallowed, they can cause chemical burns in as little as two hours. Even AAA batteries are small enough to be swallowed. If you think your child may have swallowed a battery, call the 24-hour National Battery Ingestion Hotline at 202-625-3333 or your poison center at 1-800-222-1222 immediately or head to the nearest emergency room.
Magnets can kill children who swallow two or more—or a magnet along with a metal object that would attract it. Once in the intestines, the magnets can attach to each other through the intestinal wall, causing holes, blockage, infection, and death. Magnets might fall out of toys or other household items. But children can also swallow intact toy components that contain magnets. If you think your child swallowed a magnet, seek immediate medical attention.
Balls (or bearings within toys) with a diameter of 1.75 inches (44.4mm) or less pose a choking hazard for children under age 3. Marbles are similarly dangerous.
Broken or uninflated balloons are also a choking hazard for children under 8. Balloons (or pieces) can be suck in and mold to the throat and lungs, completely blocking breathing.
A plastic film is sometimes used to protect parts of a toy or product that can scratch easily during shipping—think of a mirror on a baby rattle. But that thin plastic can be a choking hazard, so make sure it is completely removed before giving the toy to a child.
The CSPC Safer Products website allows you to search for all types of products to see if any alerts or recalls have been issued. You can also report a product that you think is unsafe.
Reviewed by Dr. Eva Benmeleh, September 2020
- In 2012, an estimated 89,500 toy-related injuries happened to children under age five.
- Toy vehicles and non-motorized scooters accounted for the most injuries
- Toy parts are hazardous due the risk of ingestion or choking. Batteries, magnets, balls, balloons and plastic film are especially dangerous.