by Lori Ramsey – real life parenting with a mom with 6 kids
The holidays are upon us and as a big part of the year, we decorate our homes for the festivities. For parents of smaller children, especially crawling babies and toddlers, this can be a bit of a challenge. We go from having a safe childproofed home to having decorations and holiday items that can be a hazard to the little tikes. As parents we have to decide is having a fully decorated home worth the extra safety risk to our little children.
For me, it often wasn’t and when mine were little I took on the holiday decorating with a whole different approach. I was a stickler for childproofing the home. I had outlet covers cover plugs and outlets, I had safety hinges on all cabinets. I had latches on doors and gates blocking danger zones and stairs. I realize how difficult it made our lives to have this stuff in place, but it also gave me breathing room to know my little one had a safe environment to explore. But when it came to the holidays I had to put a halt on many of the traditional decorations.
You need to make a decision if you choose to put up a traditional on the floor Christmas tree you have a couple of choices. You can either stay with your child every single moment to keep them from grabbing the ornaments, biting at the electrical lights, and knocking the tree over onto themselves or you can block it off. Put the tree in a little used room and keep the child out of it unless you are with them.
Or do like I did and do something different. When mine were little, I chose not to use the larger Christmas tree and instead we purchased a smaller tree that we set upon a table out of the child’s reach. All our décor existed high enough we could enjoy it but little hands couldn’t grab it.
As you can imagine, we went through about eight years where we did this just to make it easier on me. I’m sure there are parents out there who claim they can teach a child not to touch the tree, but with smaller children and curious toddlers, you’d better be right there with that constant need to slap back little hands or with the quick, “No-nos.” I chose not to go that route. Instead of it being a negative experience for our family, we kept the lower part of the home clear and child-proof and just decorated from about three feet and up.
Be aware of the dangers of tree ornaments. Many have smaller parts that serve as choking hazards. Glass ornaments break easily, so obviously you shouldn’t have those in the home with a tiny child or at the very least make darn sure you keep them well out of the way of little grabby hands. Electric anything is a hazard and the child should never be allowed to play with light strands or any type of electrical Christmas decoration.
Remember to keep an eye out when going outside if you decorate outdoors as well. Kids are attracted to flashing lights and fun whimsical lawn decorations. These are just as dangerous as the decorations inside, so use the same precautions as you do when in the house.
Also, be mindful of visiting family and friends over the holidays. Especially parents of crawling babies and toddlers. If the home doesn’t have small children living there it probably won’t be child-proofed. You need to be very watchful in these situations. Bring along a playpen or take turns with your spouse running after the child when visiting others. It pays to be vigilant to keep accidents from happening.
Another point to be aware of is holiday foods. Many holiday sweets have nuts and possible allergens in the ingredients. If you have a child with potential food allergies, you’ll have to be extra careful over the holidays to ensure they don’t consume foods that could harm them.
Don’t let the issues of safety and small children get you down over the holidays. It make take some extra parenting vigilance and work to keep your tike safe, but it’s only for a season. They do grow up fast, take it from me. I actually miss those days when I had to be extra careful for their safety. But the trade-off is that I can put up the giant floor tree and decorate to my heart’s content because the children know better than to try to eat the pretty flashing colored lights.
Lori Ramsey (LA Ramsey) was born in 1966 in Twenty-Nine Palms, California. She grew up in Arkansas where she lives with her husband and six children!! She took the Famous Writers Course in Fiction from 1993-1996. She started writing fiction in 1996 and began writing non-fiction in 2001.
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