The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Children’s Toys Provide Fun For Tots and Foot Injuries for Parents

Posted by on Thursday, January 22nd, 2015


Christmas was almost a month ago, but stepping on a child’s toy remains a year-round tradition and rite of passage for all parents. Whether you’re rushing to comfort your little one from a nightmare in the dark, or you were dancing to avoid one obstacle and tumbled onto another, the sensation of stepping on a small toy is a pain like no other…and the resulting foot injuries are no laughing matter.

Most of the time, your blood is boiling, you’ve cursed aloud, and your foot bruised up a plum shade of purple but is no worse for wear. On other occasions, foot injuries resulting from stepping on toys can be quite serious. New York podiatrists at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine have treated parents with puncture wounds, nerve damage, infections, broken bones, and torn ligaments from accidentally stepping on an object.

stepping on toys
NY podiatrists explore the Godforsaken world of stepping on children’s toys. Image Source:

Why Does Stepping On A Toy Hurt So Darn Much?

According to reflexologists, there are 7,200 nerve endings in the soles of the feet, making them one of the most sensitive areas on the body. The feet need to be sensitive because they must communicate with the brain continuously to avoid toppling over. When a person walks, the feet absorb shock forces up to nine times one’s own body weight. Then consider how durable and tough some of your kids’ toys are. By some estimates, a Lego can withstand 963 pounds of pressure before it will start to give! So, in a nutshell: when foot and toy collide, the toy always wins.

Parents Speak Out: “What Are The Worst Toys You’ve Ever Stepped On?”

Linda Sharps, blogger for The Stir, lists a pink jack as the absolute worst toy to step on. “I’ll seize up in a full-body adrenaline surge of fear before it perforates the arch of my foot and blood geysers everywhere in a festive red spray,” she imagines. Other runners-up included: magic markers, battle robots, plastic snakes, monster trucks, and stuffed animals (that feel eerily like pet cats and young babies).

Peter Hartlaub of SF Gate warns that “A Lincoln Log feels like getting a foot massage compared to a Happy Meal toy”. He rates Legos, Bossk, Hot Wheels track, Decepticons, and some weird Taco Bell toy as the five worst things he’s stepped on in the middle of the night. Runners-up: “Stratego pieces; Thomas the Tank Engine bridges; Hungry Hungry Hippos; The Fridge Farm Magnetic Animal Set”.

Casey Mullins at Babble recalls stepping on a pink glitter dolphin, Legos, Mattel cars, crayons, Lincoln Logs, Sophie the Giraffe, Zhu Zhu Pets, and dress-up shoes. “Nothing made my feet happier than packing up those plastic heels of death and pain, seriously, those rank up there with Legos and that freaking dolphin,” she wrote.

Parents posting in the Baby Center forum recall some of the worst offenders in their households: dinosaur toys, Bristle blocks, Legos, tiaras, letter fridge magnets, metal airplanes, Lincoln Logs, Caltrops, blocks, Imaginext castle pieces, mini traffic cones, army men, Hot Wheels, and My Little Ponies.

One mom recalls, “I was walking down our stairs once when I slipped on a plastic letter D that had been left on our steps. My foot buckled under me causing me to break a toe that I had just had surgery on a couple weeks before (fortunately in a different spot). Lurking toys can be very dangerous and painful!”

What To Do When You’ve Injured Your Foot On A Toy

1. BREATHE. Before you give yourself a heart attack, have a seat and catch your breath. The amount of pain shooting through your body is undoubtedly intense beyond measure. Once you’re done taking a few deep breaths to slow your heart rate down, examine the damage.

2. Stop the bleeding. If you broke the skin, let the wound bleed lightly for up to two minutes to allow the body to cleanse itself. Then apply direct pressure with a clean, bunched paper towel. The bleeding should stop in a few minutes. Then you can cleanse the wound with a warm saltwater soak. You may then bandage the wound with a porous dressing that should be changed daily.

3. Treat the soft tissue injury. Rest. Apply ice for 15-20 minutes every hour for the first 48 hours to decrease inflammation. Put a compression bandage over your foot to increase circulation. Elevate your foot on a couple pillows until it’s above your heart.

4. Seek medical attention. If you have diabetes, seek emergency care right away, as the smallest foot wound can become dangerously infected. If redness, swelling, or bruising persists for more than a few days, you’d better see a doctor. Did the toy break the skin? When was your last tetanus shot anyhow? Do you see any bulging in the location of contact? A little bit of seepage is your body’s way of keeping bacteria out and is perfectly normal, but purulence is not. Fever, chills, nausea, headache, and vomiting are other signs of infection. If Tylenol, Advil, Aleve, or Bayer does not take the edge off your pain, you may need to see the doctor to make sure more substantial damage was not done. We’ve seen it all, folks!

5. Prevent it from happening again! Well, chances are, this won’t be the last time you step on a toy… but one can at least try, right? Jonathan Bender, writing for The Huffington Post, outlines several different strategies for avoiding a future mishap, from feeding the Legos to your dog, to running across toys like hot coals, to systematically desensitizing yourself to the knobs over time, and even strapping stuffed animals to your feet. We have to agree with his last point: “embrace a well-worn fatherly tradition…. ask for a pair of slippers.”

Treatment For Foot Injuries At The Center For Podiatric Care & Sports Medicine

For emergencies regarding foot injuries, call our Manhattan office on East 88th Street at 212-996-1900 or our White Plains facility at 914-607-2519. We staff New York State certified podiatrists, physical therapists, and podiatric surgeons who are equipped to diagnose and treat any sort of foot injury caused by stepping on one of those evil, lurking playthings.


If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.