From the first glimpse of holiday lights to the first time unwrapping a gift (crinkly paper galore!), baby’s first holiday season can be full of magic. But this time of year can present unexpected safety risks for babies, including top-heavy Christmas trees, overloaded electrical sockets, and tempting tinsel and ribbon just waiting to be chewed by a curious crawler. Here’s how to keep your most precious gift safe and sound this holiday season.
During the holidays, mall parking lots are crowded and shoppers are impatient. Use extra care navigating parking lots and crowded walkways with a stroller. When returning to your car after shopping, be sure to buckle baby securely into the car seat before unloading your cart or packages to keep baby out of harm's way. And remember that infant seats should never be placed on a shopping cart, to avoid the risk of the cart tipping over. If your baby is too young to sit upright in the front of the cart—buckled, of course—use a stroller while shopping, or wear your baby in a baby carrier instead.
On the treetop
Pine needles and ornament hooks can pose a choking hazard for little ones, so keep the floor around the tree swept or vacuumed. When babies begin crawling and pulling up between six to nine months old, the tree becomes an attractive plaything—replace glass ornaments with shatterproof ones, secure the tree firmly in the stand, and consider investing in a play yard or circular gate to keep baby at bay. And remember to keep live trees watered to avoid turning your tree into a fire hazard.
Brightly wrapped gifts and sparkly bows are irresistible to tiny tots. Consider stashing wrapped gifts out of reach—maybe out of sight, at least until the big day—and replace long ribbon, which could become a choking hazard, with pre-made bows larger than four inches across. Swap out hanging gift cards with the sticker variety, available at most dollar stores. And ditch any package decorations like tinsel, small figures or twine that could become lodged in baby’s airway.
Babies are enamored of flickering flames, and they may glimpse their first candle during the Advent or Hanukkah season. If you use candles, be sure to keep them well out of baby’s reach, positioned more than 12 inches from anything flammable, and to extinguish them fully once the ceremony, dinner or prayer is over. For the safest glow, invest in a set of new LED candles, which flicker like the real thing, but pose no burn hazard for little ones. Electric lights can pose a risk too; be sure to cover all unused electrical outlets, check all light strings for missing bulbs regularly, and replace lights with any signs of wear. And enjoy every memorable moment, knowing you’ve given your little star a safer season.
Malia Jacobson is a nationally published health and parenting journalist and mom of three.