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Little boy helping light the Hanukkah menorah

Baby Proofing Your Home for the Holidays

By Dr. Sherie Austin, Courthouse Pediatrics

Decorating for the holidays can be festive and fun, while also building a sense of family tradition. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, but remember, nothing puts a damper on the holiday spirit like a trip to the emergency department.

From a trimmed tree to candles to holiday gifts and cards, there are safety risks lurking around every corner. Safely decorate this holiday season with these tips.

The Tree

Christmas trees are a tip-over risk. Make sure your tree is secured to the wall or blocked with a baby gate. Avoid stringing lights and hanging ornaments near the bottom of the tree where toddlers can reach them.

If you’re getting a live tree, make sure to buy a fresh one. Look for a tree with needles that do not fall off when you pull on them. If you choose an artificial tree, make sure it’s fire resistant.

Keep all trees away from fireplaces, radiators, and portable heaters.

Be cautious about trimmings. Choose tinsel and other trimmings that do not contain lead.

Be aware when your baby is near the tree, and sweep the floor regularly to remove tree needles, ornament hooks, or anything else that your baby should not be putting in their mouth.

Holiday Decorations

If you light candles for Hanukkah, or for any reason, remove flammable materials from the area and place the candles where they can’t be knocked over. NEVER leave a burning candle unattended or use lighted candles on a tree.

Avoid tablecloths, too. Young children may want to pull them down and send glasses, silverware, hot food, and candles soaring.

Avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable and keep trimmings with small parts out of the reach of children. Do not use any decorations that resemble candy or food.

Keep the mistletoe out of reach. Mistletoe berries are poisonous, as are Jerusalem cherries and holly berries. While it’s commonly believed poinsettias are poisonous, they are not, though they can cause an upset stomach if eaten. As a good rule of thumb, it’s best to keep all flowers and greenery out of the reach of children any time of year.

In the Kitchen

Burns and scalds are more common at this time of the year than you might think. Be extra cautious when cooking and carrying hot foods or liquids from room to room.

Keep an eye out for things that could easily be pulled or knocked over. And watch out for choking hazards like candy and nuts.

Keep alcoholic beverages out of the reach of children.

Gifts and Toy Safety

As gifts are being opened, throw away all wrapping paper, bags, ribbons, foam peanuts, twist ties, and bows. These items can pose suffocation and choking risks and can be fire hazard if placed too close to a fire or near a flame.

Children 6 months to 3 years are at the highest risk for choking on food or other non-food items. Be cautious about toys and cards that have button batteries or magnets. These can be incredibly harmful if swallowed.

Looking to buy a safe, age-appropriate toy for that special little one on your list? Visit our safe toy buying guide for tips on choosing a gift that’s not only fun, but safe and engaging as well.

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About CHKD Medical Group

About CHKD Medical  Group Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters has been the region’s most trusted name in pediatric care for more than 50 years. As members of CHKD Health System, our pediatricians work closely with CHKD’s full range of pediatric specialists and surgeons. They also share a commitment to quality, excellence and child-centered care. With 18 practices in 29 locations throughout the region, a CHKD pediatrician is never far.