It’s the day after Thanksgiving and it’s time for our family tradition. Our Elf on the Shelf, FiFi, makes her annual debut and my husband drags all the Christmas decorations out of the garage and piles them up in our kitchen. Our house becomes a dusty, colossal disaster area for the next several hours while we prepare our home for the holidays. It’s one of my absolute favorite days of the year because not only do we make our home a festive one, but we bring home our family Christmas tree!
Most of us love the tradition of the Christmas tree, but the Christmas tree can present some challenges if you have a toddler. Toddlers and their cute, chubby cheeks combined with their endless enthusiasm bring us so much joy and laughter over the holidays. On the other hand, their natural curiosity and desire to touch everything can make the annual Christmas tree a source of stress for parents and a dangerous situation for toddlers.
So, how can parents maintain a low-stress holiday season and keep their children safe?
Here are a few ideas you may find helpful:
- When you bring your Christmas tree home or set up your artificial one, let your toddler touch and get familiar with the tree. Encourage “gentle hands” and demonstrate how to appropriately touch the tree. Toddlers love to touch, so let them experience the feeling of the tree so they’re not quite as curious going forward.
- Find the non-fragile decorations and let them help decorate the bottom portion of the tree. Toddlers LOVE to be included and it creates a fun family experience. Their enthusiasm is both memorable and adorable, so keep your camera handy! Once the decorating is done, explain to them that the tree is no longer allowed to be touched. Explain how the tree is now beautiful, but can only be looked at because it can be dangerous.
- Baby proof the tree. Trees can and do fall on children. To protect your toddler, you have options. You can set up a child safety gate around the tree. You can also attach a ceiling hook above the tree and attach heavy-gauge wire to the top of the tree. Personally, we are able to use furniture to block ours off. If using furniture, be sure to keep furniture at least two to three feet away so your toddler cannot reach the tree from the furniture.
- If using small or breakable ornaments, place them high enough so that they are out of your toddler’s reach.
- Avoid using metal hooks as they are a choking hazard. Instead, opt for ribbon.
- If using decorations that resemble food, keep them out of your child’s reach to avoid their natural temptation to eat them!
- Real holly and mistletoe are toxic to children, so avoid using altogether or place out of your toddler’s reach.
- If you have a real tree, be sure to keep it properly watered. A hydrated tree is a less flammable tree, and makes a lot less mess.
- Keep cords out of site and hidden, and taped to the floor if possible.
- Keep cords, tinsel or garland on the upper part of the tree. They can be a choking and strangulation hazard.
The holidays are my favorite time of the year! As parents we can enjoy this glorious season and keep our children safe. We simply have to take a few extra steps to toddler-proof our Christmas tree, just as we would the rest of our home. My hope and prayer is that you’re able to enjoy this holiday season to the fullest! Happy holidays!
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Jennifer is a work from home mom of 3 kids. Read more about her and passions at GoFitMom.com