10 Tips to Toddler-proof Christmas Decor
Christmas time is exciting for everyone and your traditions may include extra decorations but with a toddler around things can get tricky quick. While there’s no way to prevent every single mishap ever, here’s a list of 10 things you can do to cover most problems.
Avoid choking hazards
Make sure that you keep everything that can cause choking is out of reach of your toddler, or better yet keep them put away until your child is older. Anything smaller than your child’s windpipe can be a risk, so go over your ornaments and put whatever is dangerous at the top of the tree. Pay special attention to boughs or garland that are within reach as your toddler may be able to pull them apart.
Keep plants out of reach
avoiding toxic plants at Christmas is an obvious step, but keeping even safe ones out of reach can be prudent, you don’t want your child to go digging in the dirt or pulling the leaves off. Keep a list of your plants, what fertilizer or nutrients you used in them and a number for poison control nearby just in case, that way if something does happen you’ll be ready to act immediately.
Manage your manger
If you have a creche or a nativity scene, it’s best kept up high so toddlers can’t get their hands on it. While being breakable is a concern, so is a missing baby Jesus, while your child may not choke on it, you may also never find it again and that would be tragic all around. If you want your child to experience this part of Christmas there is always an option to buy a second child-safe version made of larger pieces that are soft plastic or even felt stuffies that they can cuddle and play with.
Keep cords out of your child’s reach and make sure to run them along the wall and tape them down. If a cord is coming off a table, try to keep that area blocked off so your child can’t try to unplug it or even pull on the cord causing all kinds of trouble.
Letting the fireplace roar
Invest in a baby gate to keep the hearth area off limits, even if your fireplace has a door the closes your child may try to explore and that is a recipe for disaster. Keep your stockings a safe distance away too, you don’t want anything burning unless you intended for it to.
The lights, the sparkle, the glam, it’s all tempting for a toddler. Keep what you can out of reach and put what’s safer to play with down low. If there’s something your toddler just can’t stop trying to obtain, it may be useful to move it to another spot in the house that’s easier to manage or even putting it away until next year may be an option.
Many people find that it’s enough to put all the glass and breakable ornaments towards the top of the tree, reserving the areas within your toddlers reach for safer decorations or just not decorating the bottom third of the tree. Others, however, like to get a smaller tree and put it on a table so your toddler can’t reach any of it. Make sure that if you’re getting a real tree to keep it watered for fire safety reasons, but also make sure your toddler can’t go fishing in the water. Remember that a toddler can drown in just 2 inches of water and that water+electricity aren’t a great combo. Putting a playpen or toddler gate around the base of the tree can keep most toddlers from being in a situation where they can get into trouble, and can also protect your presents from early opening.
If you put anything on a table or similar and there’s a cloth under it, or say a tree skirt around your tree on a table be aware that toddlers pulling themselves up to a standing position may try to use it for leverage. Do what you can to discourage this by not leaving loose ends hanging, securing tables to the wall, or even blocking access to these areas.
Jingle bells aren’t just for decoration, they can add a small layer of security and peace of mind. If you hear them jostling you know your toddler is up to mischief and can react sooner. Be sure you use them judiciously though, if you have bells in many rooms and you hear them ringing while you’re in the bathroom you may not know which direction to head to avoid disaster.
Finally giving your toddler acceptable ways to experience Christmas decorations can be a great way to avoid their interest in the traditional ones. Many families like to have a soft tree or felt tree for a toddler to play with and decorate. If you choose a small tree make sure it is sturdy and not a choking hazard, choose decorations for it that are easy to put on and take off again as your toddler will likely spend many hours doing this, instead of metal hooks consider loops of yarn or ribbon, and skip the lights and tinsel. If a tree isn’t on your agenda, consider supervised play with a sensory bin of seasonal items, there are many ideas out on the web like using instant mashed potatoes as snow to play within the same way you’d play with sand, or using rice and pine cones to have a bit of fun. Be creative and find something your toddler likes to do that you can facilitate.
Make sure you are keeping tabs on what is brought into the house as well, presents under the tree may not be child-friendly so keep them out of reach if needed. Enjoy these early Christmas experiences with your child, and keep in mind that if you have to skip traditions this year that they may be old enough to re-start them next year.