Keeping Baby Safe During the Holidays

Keeping Baby Safe During the Holidays

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The holidays are coming, and this year, they’re going to look different, because you’re celebrating with the newest member of your family. How you prepare for the season will change over time as your baby grows. We’re here to offer a few tips to help you make sure your surroundings are safe for your little life of the party, so you can get on with making the moments count. 

This may be the first time for friends and family to gather since the pandemic hit. Everyone’s looking forward to some long-overdue QT (quality time), but as the parent of a baby, your number one priority is keeping your little elf off the shelf, happy and safe.  

Home For the Holidays (Yours or Theirs)

Whether you’re hosting the festivities or visiting elsewhere, what you need to be mindful of is mostly the same.  
If you’re going to someone else’s house for holiday celebrations, and even if they have kids of their own, assume the areas you’ll be hanging out in won’t be babyproofed (or at least not in the same way you’ve locked down your own home). Planning ahead makes celebrations less complicated and more fun.

Questions to Ask Yourself:

  • Will I be needed in the kitchen?
  • Where will the food be on display or served?
  • Will there be alcohol?
  • How accessible will the Christmas tree or other holiday decor be to my tiny treasure hunter?
  • What breakable stuff could be in their arm's reach?
  • Is there room to pop up the playpen?
  • Will the host let me put up a baby gate or create a little gated community in the family room to keep LO contained?

If you’re hosting, your place is probably babyproofed for the age and stage of your cherub. However, your regular routine and the way you move around the house is about to get upended. Your cheery guests who aren’t parents of little ones probably won’t be thinking about baby's safety, especially a drink or two into the party, mixing and mingling with a crowded room. On the flip side, even well-meaning relatives trying to assist you by monitoring the baby may not be used to how you operate. That’s when distractions happen. Planning ahead will help to prevent frazzled nerves and keep your festive feast from turning into a recipe for disaster. 

Three areas of the home usually have the most activity: the kitchen, dining room, and living room. 

The Kitchen

The best way to keep accidents from happening with your little one buzzing around the kitchen is to keep them out. So, if you can put up a safety gate, or use something large and stable, like a piece of furniture to block off the entrance, that would be the ideal scenario. You don’t want their tiny fingers to get stepped on or pinched in cabinets. You also don’t want baby to become a tripping hazard as Grandma is transferring the bubbling hot casserole from the oven to the counter.

However, we know that sometimes your mini-me needs to be in your arms. And sometimes, you just need to multitask. In that case, here are some tips for keeping your little turkey protected when the cooking and chatter is going on. 

  • Guard the stovetop. If you don’t have to have all burners going, then use the ones in the back and turn pots and pan handles away from the edge of the stovetop. Stove knobs are made for turning, but not by baby’s tiny hands. They want to do what you do, so use knob covers to prevent accidents when your small sous chef tries to help you cook.
  • Put away knives. Move the knife block up and out of reach for kids. You don’t want them to be sharpening their own chef skills while you’re busy whipping the mashed potatoes. If knives are kept in a drawer, and you have a toddler on the loose, tape the drawer shut (painter’s tape will seal the deal temporarily and is easy to remove without leaving marks).
  • Include them in the fun. When you’re at a small gathering where supervision is easier to manage, allow baby to have access to the Tupperware drawer or give them a few safe baking utensils and bowls to play with so they feel included while you go about your business. 

The Dining Room

Room for one more: As you gather ‘round the table for mealtime, squeezing everyone in, be sure that LO’s high chair isn’t sitting on top of Grandma’s dress, or under with Grandpa’s foot. Keep it a safe distance away from the table to prevent your tiny party animal from touching something too hot, swiping a nibble that could pose a choking hazard, grabbing a knife from a place setting, or tipping over your BFF’s wine in that pretty crystal glass.

Protect the tablescape: Who knew that the cherished table topper is now a potential threat? But think of LO learning to pull themselves up to stand or taking those baby steps. They grab onto anything they can to assist their new mobility. That means though that reaching for the table cloth on a beautifully set dining table can send the fine China crashing to the floor, breaking hearts, and more importantly leaving an egg on baby’s head.  

The Living Room

Christmas tree:
This popular symbol of the holiday is the focal point of the room. Make sure it’s secured from toppling over. (That’s only funny in the viral videos when it’s someone else’s.) If you’ve got a crawler or climber, gate it off. If that’s not an option, then move those family heirloom ornaments, hooks, string lights, tinsel, garlands, basically anything breakable or dangerous for baby to pop in their mouth, up higher on the tree or away for the moment. Even if you think your infant is on safe ground laying on the playmat, you’ll want to take precautions. You never know when baby is going to master rolling over (and over and over) to where things you didn’t think were in reach, suddenly are. 

Fireplace or wood-burning stove:
Block it off if possible. The potential for burns means it should just be off-limits.  But if you can’t fence off the fireplace, you can soften the edges of a brick or stone hearth with foam bumpers to avoid scratches and bruises on your little explorer as they toddle by. 

Holiday decor:
Festive trinkets become prime targets for your tiny treasure hunter. From dangerous parts, to potpourri, candles, and collectibles you don’t want getting broken, it’s best to move them to higher ground or put furniture in the way. (Helpful hint: Battery-operated, flameless candles create the same decorative effect without the fire or burn hazard). 
 
Alcohol:
Keep a watch on cocktails left unattended. The reason those designer drinks are appealing to you is the same reason baby will make a beeline for the glass if they have a chance. Bright colors and fruity flavors are very attractive. Don’t forget that eggnog looks like milk to a kid. Even small amounts of alcohol can be dangerous for tots. Auntie may be funnier when she’s feeling the glow from her martini, but there’s nothing funny about a tipsy toddler. Alcohol poisoning is no joke. 
 
Munchies:
Bowls of nuts, popcorn, raisins and other small bites of yummy stuff are meant to tide everyone over until suppertime. But these too become potential choking hazards for your table cruiser. Move the bowls up and away if baby is going to be hanging out in that space, or appoint someone to watch them like a hawk. Have your regular snacks handy to offer your hungry LO instead. 
 
Gift-giving time:
Gift bags, plastic, and styrofoam packing materials, ribbons, bows, and even tape present choking hazards. As the unwrapping is happening, make sure to collect all the potentially dangerous stuff and discard it before baby is allowed anywhere close. 
Toys meant for older kids that get tossed aside as they move on to the next present can be dangerous for babies in the mix too. Small parts, breakable objects, and batteries (especially button batteries) all pose potential choking threats to a curious LO. 
 
Plants:
Some of those beloved faves are poisonous for kids (and pets). Poinsettias, contrary to belief, are only harmful if ingested in quantities large enough to create tummy trouble. But you need to steer baby clear from mistletoe and holly berries. 

During this most magical time of the year, consider the home and surroundings from your little one’s point of view. It’s all new and wonderful. Remember, babies are touchy-feely. They’re learning about the world around them using all of their senses, which is why so many things go straight into their mouths and they want to get their chubby little hands on everything. When you prep with that in mind, whether you’re decorating your house or part of a party, you’ll be keeping your little wonder safe and healthy.

Imagine the family gathered around the table with your little gobbler contently propped on your lap or sitting securely in their booster chair. It’s time to raise your glasses (and sippy cups) to toast the reason for the season and dig in. Happy Holidays!