The Christmas season is an exciting time but it can also be very hectic, and the likelihood of accidents or injuries for children can increase.
There are a number of potential safety concerns during the holidays that can be easily overlooked in all the hustle and bustle of the season.
Christmas Tree and Ornaments
Decorating the Christmas tree can be a special family tradition, and a tree full of lights and ornaments is a beautiful sight.
However, when there are small children in the home, decorations should be chosen with care.
Babies and toddlers explore their surroundings by touching with their hands and putting things in their mouths. Christmas ornaments that may break, leaving sharp edges, should be placed high on the tree out of the reach of children, or better yet left packed away until the children are older.
If possible, hang ornaments with string instead of wire hooks. Any ornament within a child’s reach should be large and sturdy with no small parts that could come loose.
If an ornament can fit inside a toilet paper roll, it is too small and could cause a child to choke.
Keep electrical cords out of reach by placing the tree as close as possible to an outlet.
Poinsettias, holly and mistletoe are very common during the Christmas season. While lovely to look at, they can be harmful if ingested.
Both holly and mistletoe are toxic. Poinsettias are not toxic, but may cause stomach cramps or diarrhea if consumed. Keep these plants well out of reach of children, and if you suspect your child may have eaten any of them, seek medical help immediately.
Be mindful of gifts, both before and after they are opened.
Gift bags are a great alternative to wrapping boxes, but keep in mind that your child could potentially remove the contents.
If a gift could cause harm to a child if broken or ingested, either keep the gift bag out of reach or consider putting it in a taped box instead.
Toys should be chosen with safety in mind.
Watch for minimum age requirements on toy packages. These ratings are based on safety and appropriate developmental levels.
Toys marked as ‘not recommended for children under three’ tend to have small parts.
Large crowds of frenzied shoppers can be distracting to both children and parents, making it easier for them to become separated. Keep small children in a stroller or shopping cart so they are unable to wander off.
Loosening or removing coats, mitts and other outerwear will prevent children from overheating and also allow them to be comfortable as you shop.
If possible, visit stores during quieter times if you are bringing children. Even better, tackle the holiday crowds alone when your child is being cared for at home.
Never leave your child unattended in the car, even if you only plan to run in and out of the store quickly.
The best way to ensure a safe and happy holiday is to slow down and enjoy the season with your children. You don’t need a picture perfect home and all the best gifts.
What matters is the time spent together making memories that your children will carry throughout their lives.
Shawna Munro works at the Elspeth Reid Family Resource Centre, a facility of Child and Family Services of Western Manitoba that offers
parenting information and support.
» 255 Ninth St., Brandon
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition December 12, 2013