Shining lights, beautiful tree, amazing ornaments, delicious food, plentiful wine… oh yeah, and a toddler tantrum or three. Christmas is the season to be jolly, but it can also be a lot of hard work, especially when chasing a toddler around. I’ve put together these 10 tips for you to keep your little ones as safe as possible over Christmas, as there are some things you might not have thought about. The hospitals in the UK are overburdened at Christmas, with long waits for care both because of a higher than average amount of incidents and because the tricky task of managing staff rotas and hospital services through the holidays. The last thing you want is to have a trip to A&E, yet this happens to a lot of families!
Children under 10 accounted for 25% of of admissions in one set of data. That’s 10% in the 0-2 bracket and 15% in the 3-10 bracket. Toddlers are definitely a high risk group for accidents over the festive period.
1. Secure the tree and ornaments
If your toddler is anything like mine, a shining bauble on a tree is a treasure that must be grabbed and pulled. The problem is that trees can be pulled over, and ornaments can be unsafe for little hands (and mouths). Often easy to shatter if they fall on the floor, covered in glue, glitter or small pieces, these really aren’t children’s toys. Toddlers, not being overly keen of acknowledging the word no, are tiny tree tyrants. Secure the tree to the wall so that it doesn’t fall, and if possible, raise everything at a height that it can’t be reached! Otherwise I’d recommend extreme vigilance, including eyes in the back of your head and certainly not leaving them alone in a room with the tree.
2. Check the age requirements on toys
With relatives buying it’s quite easy to end up with quite a varied age range on toys, but it’s worth checking why that item says 3+ and whether it has any safety warnings, or if it’s just an estimated age range. Some things are built with small removable parts and are choking hazards for babies, so there’s usually a pretty big hazard warning that’s worth double checking for before you throw away the packaging.
3. Be careful if buying hand-made toys
Anything that constitutes a toy needs to be safety tested and have an ECC certificate. However, I’ve found that a vast amount of sellers at craft fairs, Facebook groups and even on Etsy and Ebay are not properly safety testing their toys. There is a reason these safety tests exist, and whilst it might be costly, cumbersome and really hard for a one-off creator to properly safety test their goods, the law is there to protect our children and in my opinion, is not being followed correctly by many small sellers. If you’re buying something hand-made, make sure you fully examine it and are thoroughly aware of any risks. As much as I’d like to purchase a lot of hand-made toys, this aspect of the trade really worries me.
4. Dispose of packaging correctly
From a safety perspective it’s really important to dispose of all the gift packaging correctly. You’re likely to be surrounded by a detritis of paper and packaging, but hidden in there will be little cable ties, plastic snaps, plastic bags and who knows what. Make sure you pick everything up and clean up carefully as you go, because anything will go in little mouths and you definitely don’t want to be in the emergency room getting a rubber band removed on Boxing Day.
From an environmental point of view, anything you can save and re-use is great. If you can iron out and re-use any paper packaging then you are really helping to cut down on waste, but if all else fails, make sure you’re sorting out the recycling responsibly.
5. Keep toddlers and younger children out of the kitchen on Christmas Day
It’s great to get kids involved in cooking and baking, but the fact is you’re probably going to be quite busy and already juggling 15 things at once on Christmas Day. It’s very easy in a hectic kitchen for a toddler to get hurt, so I’d personally advise making the kitchen a kid-free zone!
6. Be careful with the food choices
Digestive distress comes hand in hand with Christmas – we’re all prone to over eating and healthy food choices can take a backseat. But toddler tummies are delicate and not used to high sugar or high fat foods, so even though it’s tempting to treat them, it’s really in everyone’s best interests to keep to their regular balanced diet. One bite of Christmas cake isn’t going to hurt, but if everyone in the family is giving them treats left or centre, you could all be in for a sleepless night if someone has a stomach ache.
With a lot of potentially new foods and spices being added to the diet, it can also be a time when allergies show up.
Now I know no one here is giving their toddler a gin and tonic, but my toddler LOVES sampling other peoples drinks. His favourite thing is to take my water from beside my bed – even though it’s just water and nothing exciting – and he thinks it’s the best thing in the world if mum or dad let him drink from their glass at the dinner table. At Christmas, people might be leaving alcohol out. A tiny bit of wine in a glass, a half drunk cocktail, these things could easily be picked up by a toddling scavenger. Alcohol is a dangerous poison for children, even in very small amounts, so you need to be extra careful about leaving anything within reach.
8. Fire Safety
Always check your Christmas lights every year. Replace any burnt out bulbs, check that wires aren’t frayed and that all your mains sockets are working correctly – with the switches covered and away from little fingers. Turn all your Christmas lights out when you leave the house or go to bed. If you have any open fires or candles, be extra vigilant and always make sure they’re out if you leave the toddler in the room alone, even if it’s just for a second!
Make sure your smoke alarms are all working too – this is something you should do all year round, but with a lot more electrics running at Christmas, the risks are higher for an accidental fire. I use these Nest smart smoke and carbon dioxide alarms – you can monitor them even when you’re out of the house and they send you alerts and can be bought in battery packs or wired into the mains very easily so you don’t need to replace the batteries, they’re pretty neat!
Here’s all 8 Christmas safety tips for toddlers compiled into an easily saved and shared image:
I hope this guide was helpful to you. Let me know in the comments as it makes my day to think that my website is helping other parents too!