The Most Dangerous Toys Under Your Christmas Tree in 2021

In this Guide...

Unpowered scooters and toy cars have led to an estimated 40,000 holiday ER visits among children in the past decade. Learn more about the toys sending the most kids to the emergency room so you can keep safety in mind for your holiday shopping this year.

A doctor crouches to speak with young boy and his mother
1
Key Findings

 

  • An estimated 4,000 children under the age of 18 are taken to the emergency room every year in the days following Christmas because of an injury sustained from a toy.

  • Unpowered scooters account for nearly one out of three such injuries.

  • Two out of three injuries are to a child’s face and head.
2
Study Overview

While a trip to the emergency room isn’t likely to be on any child’s Christmas list, it shows up under the tree for an estimated 4,000 kids under the age of 18 every year according to data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), part of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

An estimated 242,000 people visit the ER each year after being injured by a toy, at least three-quarters of whom are under the age of 18. To shine some light on the first-ever Toy Safety Awareness Month in November, we examined the emergency room reports from the NEISS dataset to identify the types of toys causing the most harm in recent years.           

For additional toy safety resources, including tips, important toy recalls and a buying guide, you can visit the official website for PlaySafe.org.

In the week between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve during the 10-year period from 2011 through 2020, an estimated 38,927 kids in total were taken to the ER because of an injury sustained from a toy – or roughly 3,900 children per year, on average. 

The NEISS data analyzed highlights the number of people who are treated in the emergency room because of a toy-related injury across a nationally representative sample of U.S. hospitals. 

Filtering for children under the age of 18 and isolating the data for only the days of Dec. 24 through Dec. 31 provides an estimate of how many children under the age of 18 are being taken to the emergency room every year around Christmas because of a toy-related injury. 

4
Identifying the Most Dangerous Toys

Unpowered scooters accounted for nearly one out of every three toy-related injuries among children under the age of 18 that resulted in a trip to the emergency room from 2011 through 2020. 

A popular example of such a product is the HALO Rise Above Supreme Big Wheel Scooter, which is among Walmart’s “Top Rated by Kids list” in 2022. 

Click on image to enlarge in a new tab

Graphic chart showing the most dangerous holiday toys for children

Toy guns, building sets such as LEGO and non-riding toy vehicles such as Matchbox cars were also leading causes of emergency room visits, each accounting for roughly one in 10 injuries. These small toys can present a choking hazard for kids, as well as fall dangers. 

Non-riding toy vehicles can also include drones, which have become a popular Christmas gift in recent years. They have also been a common source of emergency room visits, with more than 4,000 drone-related injuries reported between 2015 and 2020.

As for toy guns, which may present choking and eyeball dangers, the NERF Elite 2.0 Commander is one of Amazon’s top sellers.

5
The Most Common Types of Injuries Kids Suffer Due to Toys During the Holidays

More than two thirds of all toy-related injuries are to a child’s face, head, mouth, ear and eyeballs. 

Click on image to enlarge in a new tab

Graphic table showing the most common types of injuries children suffer due to toys around the holidays

Internal injuries, which are likely to originate with the mouth, accounted for an additional 11% of injuries. Injuries to the arm, wrist and fingers accounted for roughly 15% of injuries.

6
Holiday Toy Injuries Since 2011

The number of toy-related injuries to children around Christmas time reached its lowest rate in a decade in 2020 (2,848 injuries). It’s possible that COVID-19 safety concerns and restrictions may have kept some parents from taking their injured child to the emergency room during this time. 

In fact, the rate of overall emergency room visits was 25% lower during the period of December 2020 to January 2021 compared to the same period the previous year. The rate of ER visits for children declined by more than 63%. 

Click on image to enlarge in a new tab

Graphic chart showing the trend of toy-related injuries for children since 2011

Removing 2020 from the data, an estimated 4,008 children are visiting the emergency room during the days of Christmas Eve to New Year’s Eve every year because of an injury sustained by a toy. 

7
Conclusion

An estimated 4,000 children under the age of 18 are taken to the emergency room every year in the days immediately following Christmas as a result of an injury sustained from a toy.

Unpowered scooters account for nearly 1 out of every 3 such injuries, and most injuries are to the face and head. The number of toy-related holiday trips to the ER in 2020 reached its lowest point since at least 2011. 

8
Methodology

We collected data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), accessed November 2021. We examined injuries suffered by children aged 18 and younger for the period between Dec. 24 and Dec. 31 for each year from 2011 to 2020. We included all product codes under the “Toys” product group.

In some instances, we combined product categories and shortened product category names for clarity, such as replacing "toy vehicles excluding riding toys" to simply "toy vehicles."

More Useful Guides
Child getting vaccination
Children ages 12 to 17 are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccination in the U.S., but vaccine hesitancy ...
A mother and father hold their young children while standing outside their mobile home
COVID-19 safety concerns upended the child care arrangements for 21% of U.S. adults who have kids ...
It's more important than ever for people to get vaccinated in the 2021-2022 flu season as the nation ...