How to Baby Proof Your Home for the Holidays

by Judith Palfrey, M.D.

How to Baby Proof Your Home for the Holidays

Simple holiday safety tips for baby proofing your home, including how to decorate the Christmas tree and choose age-appropriate toys. Plus, see popular holiday foods that are also choking hazards.

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas …

Make It Festive Trees, garlands, menorahs, lights — so many colorful, shiny things for baby to explore! You don’t have to put a hold on holiday decorations; just take a little extra care. So go ahead: Hang the stockings, trim the tree, light the menorah — sensibly.

Keep It Safe If you have an artificial tree, make sure it’s labeled “fire resistant.” When choosing a live tree, find the freshest, greenest one possible (that sticky resin on the trunk is actually a good thing) and don’t forget the tap test — if the tree loses lots of needles when tapped on the ground, move on. Check all lights, whether they’re used indoors or outside, to ensure they’re in good working order with no frayed wires, broken sockets or loose connections. Keep live trees well-watered, and away from the fireplace, radiator or heater. Never use lighted candles on or near the tree, wreaths or any evergreens. Secure the tree to the wall if possible.

For decorations, stick to flame-resistant, nonbreakable ornaments, and if possible, hang them of baby’s reach (ditto for garlands and wreaths). Skip the tinsel, heirloom ornaments and trimmings resembling candy or food. Be vigilant when baby is near the tree; never leave her unattended. Sweep the floor regularly to pick up tree needles, ornament hooks or anything else baby shouldn’t put in her mouth. Poinsettias aren’t poisonous, but amaryllis, mistletoe and holly are toxic — your best bet is to display plants up high.

Keep the fire in the fireplace: Turn off all decorative holiday lights, including electric candles and menorahs, before you leave the house or go to bed.

Hassle-Free Holiday Why not try a tabletop tree? It’ll be out of reach of exploring hands, and it’s much simpler to put up and take down.


All I Want for Christmas Is …

Make It Fun It’s better to give than receive — except for baby, who’ll be getting a gazillion toys, some of which may not be appropriate. Give a little guidance to friends and family to ensure their gifts are fun and safe.

Keep It Safe Tactfully steer gift-givers to toys geared to baby’s age. Create a wish list so you can identify specific items that are a good match for your child. Avoid balloons, toys that plug into outlets and those with strings or small parts (strangulation and choking hazards, respectively). Give dreidels to older children, not babies or toddlers.

When opening gifts, immediately discard paper, ribbons, bows, bags and packing material (like Styrofoam peanuts). Read the instructions for toys and games carefully and inspect them for loose or broken parts and sharp edges; store any that aren’t baby-friendly out of reach. Try out ride-on or push toys indoors in a safe space, such as a carpeted area.

Hassle-Free Holiday Chances are baby will receive plenty of gifts from relatives and friends, so consider a special family outing or mommy-and-me day: a free — and memorable — present.

Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire …

Make It Tasty Cookies baking in the oven … holiday goodies are fun to make and eat, even for baby — just don’t overdo it.

Keep It Safe That holiday spread is as enticing for baby as it is for your guests. Watch for potential choking hazards, especially hard or round treats like candy, nuts and crudités, as well as alcoholic beverages that could be mistaken for milk or fruit juice. Keep a lookout for things that are easily pulled or knocked over, such as tablecloths and runners, hot liquids and platters at the edges of counters and tables.

While it’s fine to let a baby who’s eating solids try a new treat, it’s best to stick to his regular diet and feeding routine. Holiday foods that are quite rich (we’re looking at you, eggnog) or have an abundance of unusual ingredients (fruitcake, anyone?) are best for school-age or older children. Make sure any foods meant for children under 4 are cut into bite-size pieces.

Hassle-Free Holiday Consider handing over the hosting duties this year. Let someone else do the cooking and clean-up, leaving you free to mingle with your new baby and bask in all the attention he — and you — are sure to receive.




Holiday Helpers

Enjoy all that holiday togetherness — parties, dinners, cocktail hours — with these stay-safe tips for new parents.

· Your childhood home may no longer be childproofed — inspect your temporary digs (hotel rooms too!) for anything baby-unfriendly.
· If traveling for the holidays, stick to baby’s routine as much as possible. Snacks before long car trips or full feedings before flights may also help keep her calm.
· Give older children a baby-free zone where they can open presents and play with toys not safe for little ones.
· At parties, play it safe by putting baby in a play yard, buckling her into a bouncy seat on the floor, or toting her around in a carrier to help her avoid temptations.