By Linda DiProperzio
Holiday festivities are a wonderful way to make memories and spend quality time with loved ones. But nothing brings a party to a screeching halt like a sudden trip to the ER due to a hidden safety hazard. Here, the essential baby holiday safety tips to be aware of that will keep your little one out of harm’s way.
Secure the kitchen. Ideally, your baby or toddler will be kept out of the kitchen while you’re cooking holiday meals. But if he does make his way in, you can prevent burns by using the back burner of your stove and turn pot handles away from the edge, according to the experts at Safe Kids Worldwide.
Keep an eye on alcohol. Many holiday cocktails look and smell like something a child would enjoy (bright colors and sweet, fruity flavors!), and a misplaced drink can easily be found and consumed by a curious toddler. Use specific cups for serving alcoholic beverages to help avoid confusion, says Kimberlee Mitchell, a child safety expert BooBooBusters.com. And be sure to clean up right afterwards.
Move ornaments out of reach. An essential baby holiday safety tip: Tree ornaments and smaller dreidels are major choking hazards, and they can also break and cause cuts. Move them to the top of the tree, where you little one can’t reach them.
Stick with safe plants. Avoid decorating with poisonous plants or flowers, such as mistletoe, poinsettias, Jerusalem cherry plants, and holly leaves. Instead, opt for safe, just-as-pretty alternatives like orchids, African violets, and Jade plants.
Water your tree. Natural trees look beautiful and smell great, but if they’re not watered regularly, needles can dry out and pose a potential fire hazard. And although they're not poisonous, there's also the chance that your baby can pick the needles up off the floor and eat them. If you have a natural tree, check it regularly to ensure it has plenty of water.
Keep candles at bay. Menorahs and other holiday candles should be out of your child’s reach, and positioned at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn. And don’t forget to blow them out when you leave the room or before you go to sleep. Even better: Get electric ones that can stay on all the time with no worries.
Block the fireplace. Most fireplaces have a lit pilot even when fire is not burning, which is eye-level for curious little ones. Ideally, the fireplace should be childproofed by installing a child safety gate to the walls on each side of the fireplace, which keeps crawling babies and toddlers away from danger. And to protect little ones from falling onto the sharp hard hearth edge, adhesive padding can be attached to cover edges and corners.
Make sure toys are age-appropriate. There’s a reason toys are labeled for specific ages. Small or removable parts can pose a hazard for babies, so it’s worth taking the time to read the label and instructions before purchasing.
Beware of button batteries. They’re present in many children's toys, and can be a serious health hazard if ingested as they can burn a hole in a child's esophagus in less than two hours. Magnets can also cause grave medical damage to the stomach and intestines if ingested.