Your little one is mobile and getting your home turned into a safe zone instead of a danger zone has been a challenge, no doubt. Now that it's Christmastime, you want your child to enjoy the wonders of a tree, ornaments, stockings and other decorations -- but these additions to your decor can prove to be a whole new nightmare. Here's how to create a hazard-free home without sacrificing any Christmas cheer.
Twinkle lights, dangling ornaments… your Christmas tree is beyond enticing. Plan your baby-proofing accordingly. "Block access to the tree with a play yard and keep the bottom of the tree free of hooks, tinsel and breakable ornaments," recommends Michele Spahr of Safe Start Baby.
Those intriguing decorations could be harmful. "If an item can fit through a paper towel roll, it can be a potential choking hazard," says John Drengenberg, consumer safety director for safety science company UL, who advises hanging fragile or glass ornaments at the top of your tree.
Christmas tree tip-overs are a concern as well. If there's a weak point in your tree's sturdiness, your little one will find it from their vantage point. "Use bricks or other heavy items to weigh down your tree stand," says Spahr. Consider an extra tie-down to keep it from toppling, adds Drengenberg.
As you no doubt know by now, your curious child is a fan of wires. "Many electrical cords, including your string of lights, may be coated with plastic containing lead. Cover wires with wire cover or block your child's access," says Spahr. You may need to rethink light placement this year, or minimize the strands hanging around your house.
"Many holiday plants are toxic to your baby (and pets), including holly, mistletoe and Pyracantha (Firethorn)," says Spahr. What about the scarlet Christmas plant? "Despite popular belief, a child would have to eat more than 500 poinsettia leaves to be even potentially hazardous."
Table safety. If you're a fan of tablecloths and runners, consider festive placemats until your child learns not to pull on dangling ends. Need the coverage? Secure with binder clips or duct tape edges under the table and keep chairs tucked in to avoid climbing, advises Spahr.
Holiday baking, Christmas Day feasts -- the kitchen is the heart of a home and is likely to be busier than Whoville during the whole of the season. Slow down and look around. "Be certain your tot isn't underfoot as hot food is dashed from kitchen to table," says Spahr, who advises using back burners and turning pot handles toward the wall.
"Teach young children to always stay at least three feet away from the stove and show them what you mean," says Drengenberg.
When you think you've addressed every potential Christmas danger in your home, do just one more thing. "Take a tour from a kid's eye view," says Drengenberg. "Once all your decorations are hung, take a walk around your home from your child's eye level to be sure you didn't miss anything."
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