As beautiful and heart-warming as holiday decorations are, they can pose a real threat to our young children. Little ones see these new shiny “toys” and can be tempted to play with them. We’ve come up with a few tips to keep your children safe and having fun all holiday season!
Buttons, baubles, and ornaments are choking hazards. Babies and very young children will put almost anything in their mouth, so be careful where you put that bowl of tiny pinecones or cinnamon potpourri.
Wreaths, ornaments, nativity scenes, and other decorations can easily become choking hazards if left within reach of little hands. Keep seasonal decorations and holiday treats – like nuts and hard candies – well out of your child's reach.
Toxic chemicals are a breath away. Make sure children aren't around when you spray artificial snow because many products contain chemicals that can be harmful when inhaled. (After it's dry, snow spray is nontoxic to breathe, according to Poison Control.)
Candles and matches create a fire hazard. Even school-age kids are drawn to flames, so keep lighted candles well out of reach. Don't put lighted candles on a tablecloth or anything else that a child could pull down or knock over. Keep lighted candles far away from your tree, and never let a candle burn unattended. Place lighted menorahs in a safe spot, and extinguish them when you leave the area. If you're putting up an artificial tree, make sure it's fire resistant. (It will say so on the box.)
Lights and other tree decorations can be dangerous. Strings of electric lights are as hazardous as they are attractive to young children, who can easily get wrapped up in the wires or chew on the cords.
Make sure the lights you use have been independently tested for safety (by Underwriters Laboratory, for example). Check for broken or cracked sockets, loose connections, and frayed wires before using the lights.
And while tinsel can make a tree sparkle, it's also a choking hazard. If you use strands of tinsel or lights of any kind, hang them high and out of your child's reach.
Some holiday plants are poisonous. Contrary to popular myth, poinsettias aren't likely to be fatal to humans if eaten (though the plant can upset your stomach and burn your mouth). The real danger during the holiday season is mistletoe – ingesting it can cause severe stomach cramps and diarrhea. In some cases, it can even be fatal. If you decide to hang a sprig of mistletoe over your doorway, secure it so can't be knocked to the floor where a pet, baby, or toddler could get to it. You can also cover it with colorful netting to prevent berries or leaves from falling to the floor.
Holly and pyracantha (also known as firethorn) are frequently used in holiday decorations, and both are toxic – keep them out of reach.
A curious child can bring down the tree, the stockings, and more. Your child will naturally be fascinated by lights, ornaments, and colorful packages. If your Christmas tree is not anchored securely in its stand, your child may reach for a low-hanging bough and pull the whole thing down.
This is a joyous time of year! By taking these few safety steps, you are ensuring it stays that way!