Holiday Safety for
Babies and Toddlers
Holidays are extra special when you have little ones in the family. Young children love the magic of the season, and watching their excitement adds extra joy to the holidays. But with the holiday lights, decorations, and celebrations come potential hazards to babies and toddlers.
Here are some tips to help ensure a healthy, happy holiday season while keeping little ones safe.
- Everyone loves holiday foods, and young children enjoy all the action in the kitchen. Keep a close eye on little ones while baking or cooking to prevent scalds and burns. Ensure that all pot handles are turned away from the front of the stove so that small hands can’t pull them off. Don’t leave the oven door open.
- Food poisoning is always dangerous, especially for small children. Wash hands, utensils, and surfaces that come into contact with raw meat and eggs. Baking holiday cookies and breads is part of the fun, but don’t allow anyone to eat raw dough used for baking or holiday crafts. Raw flour and raw eggs can contain bacteria that can cause severe cases of food poisoning.
provides childproofing tips for year-round safety.
- If you decorate with a live tree, make sure your tree is fresh. When you select a tree, only a few needles should fall from the tree when you tap it on the ground, and needles should not come off easily. Trim a few inches from the tree base before you put your tree into a stand. Keep the tree watered using only plain water in the stand; tree-preservative mixtures can be dangerous for children and pets if swallowed. Pick up fallen needles right away; swallowing them can cause painful sores and cuts in the mouth and throat.
- If you have an artificial tree, make sure it is labeled as fire-resistant. Be aware that older artificial trees and trees made in China may contain lead. If your artificial tree is more than 9 years old or you are uncertain about whether it contains lead, replace it. If purchasing a new artificial tree, avoid trees made of PVC, and look for labels about lead content.
- Secure your tree in a strong, sturdy stand so that children and pets can’t knock it over. Also, keep your tree away from heat sources, such as fireplaces and radiators.
- Place fragile ornaments and decorations out of children’s reach, or wait until children are older before using them. Small, shiny ornaments and tinsel are irresistible to young children and can be choking hazards. Anything that is small enough to fit into the mouth of an infant or toddler poses a choking risk.
- Follow the directions on containers when decorating with artificial snow sprays, which can irritate the lungs.
- Keep poisonous and potentially harmful holiday plants, such as holly, mistletoe, poinsettias, and Jerusalem cherry plants, out of reach of children and pets.
- Bubble lights (which were popular from the 1950s to 1970s), with their candlelike appearance and moving liquid, are making a comeback. Most bubble lights contain methylene chloride, which poses a serious risk of poisoning if it is inhaled, swallowed, or absorbed through the skin.
- Strings of tree lights, like many appliance cords, may contain lead. Ensure that lights are kept out of children’s reach, and wash your hands after touching them.
- Never use real candles to decorate a tree. Make sure that any lit candles are kept away from flammable items and cannot be tipped over. Do not leave a burning candle unattended.
- Unplug all holiday lights and extinguish all candles before going to bed.
- If children are at a party where adults are consuming alcohol, keep all alcoholic drinks, bottles, cans, and containers away from children. Children can be poisoned by alcohol even in very small amounts.
- Some holiday offerings, such as popcorn, nuts, and hard candies, can be choking hazards.
- Look out for items that a child could pull or knock over, such as tablecloths, runners, and hot liquids at the edges of counters or tables.
- Make sure that children can’t get into purses or bags brought by guests, which might contain dangers, such as choking hazards or medications a child might swallow. If your children are guests in someone else’s home, make sure medicines and other hazards are secured.
children that some things that look like candy are actually harmful.
Gift and Toy Safety
- After opening gifts, remove all bows, ribbons, wrapping paper, bags, tape, and other gift materials, which can pose a risk for suffocation and choking for young children.
- Provide young children with age-appropriate gifts. Avoid toys that plug into outlets as well as balloons and toys with strings or other small parts that are choking hazards.
- Make certain that children can’t get their hands on any batteries. Small button batteries can damage the nasal cavity and cause hearing loss if placed in the nose or ears. If a child swallows a button battery, serious injury or death may result. Parents or caregivers who suspect a child has ingested a battery need to seek immediate medical treatment.
More Educational Materials for Child Safety
To learn more about our child safety educational materials to help keep young children safe throughout the year, please visit our Safety Section.
If you have any questions about childproofing or keeping your children safe over the holidays, talk to your child’s healthcare professional.
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