Forever Freckled's Pediatrician goes over the dangers of holiday decor for infants and toddlers

The 4 Most Dangerous Mistakes Parents Make With Holiday Decor

For many of us, the Thanksgiving Day table is barely cleared before we are rushing out the door to get our Christmas tree and holiday decorations.  The beautiful lights, the smell of the Christmas tree, and the adorable decorations bring us warmth and happiness. But before preparing yourself some eggnog and putting on the Christmas carols, it is important to go over some important safety precautions. Unfortunately, holiday decorations can pose serious safety risks to infants and toddlers. The blinking lights and shining balls can tempt the curious minds of our little ones.  We treat many injuries and burns from holiday decorations in the emergency room during this time of year.  So let’s go over some simple safety tips and alternatives to the dangers of holiday decor.

Christmas Tree ‘O Christmas Tree.  Christmas trees serve as a huge safety risk for infants and toddlers. We see serious crush injuries and even fatalities associated with Christmas trees falling onto small children.  When decorating your Christmas tree, avoid placing ornaments or lights around the bottom of the tree.  When purchasing your Christmas tree, have the staff cut off the bottom branches as it will significantly decrease the chance of your infant pulling on the branches.  Try to avoid glass ornaments altogether as this will eliminate the chance of your child getting cut.   The small particles of a broken ornament can easily get stuck in the hands and feet of crawling infants. Plastic ornaments are a easy and safe alternative, but be sure they are large enough to prevent a choking hazard.  If you already own glass decorations, I suggest placing them higher up on the tree and saving the more child friendly ornaments for the bottom.  If you have an adventurous toddler, I highly suggest placing a safety gate around the tree.

Let it Snow.  I do not recommend spray on snow. There are many dangerous chemicals such as acetone and methylene chloride (a probable carcinogen), which you can inhale while spraying the snow. If a small child comes in contact with the bottle, it can lead to dangerous ingestion.  A safe alternation is cotton.  Placing cotton around mantels and Christmas displays gives it an extra touch of winter bliss without any safety risk.

The Festival of Lights.  Please make sure to secure all cords when decorating your home with lights. The loose wires can lead to crush injuries or electrocution, as infants may pull and chew on the cords. There is also a risk of serious limb injuries or strangulation if an infant gets tangled in the cords. Before plugging in your lights, inspect your cord for frayed wire or gaps in the insulation. If you find any problems, just throw them away.  If you are using candles, please make sure them out of the reach of small children.  For those celebrating Hanukkah, keep your menorah in a safe place out of the reach of children.  We treat many preventable burns during the holiday seasons. A safe alternative is a battery operated flame. They produce the same effect with no safety risk for your children.

Miniature Decor.  When decorating mantels and tables, keep in mind that our little ones explore with their mouths. If the pieces to your winter wonderland are a choking hazard, make sure to place them in an area that is out of reach of your child. If you have older siblings in the house, it is important to explain the dangers of giving their younger sibling small figurines, or lifting them up to see the display.

Now that you are equipped with all you need to know to keep your little ones safe during your holiday preparation, it is time to enjoy that eggnog and turn up the Barbra Streisand Christmas soundtrack. Happy decorating!

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