Young kids love the bright lights and shiny ornaments on Christmas trees as much as we do. Unfortunately, they don’t want to appreciate these by gazing at them like we do—they want to touch and perhaps even taste them! This is first and foremost a safety issue, but it’s also a frustration for parents who want to decorate for Christmas.
You might think such parenting paranoia flies in the face of the holiday spirit, but the annual threat is, unfortunately, very real. Toddlers and infants see tinsel, lights, and ornaments as a glorious curiosity and children in this age group, like puppies and TV chefs, explore with their mouths. And it definitely doesn’t help that many ornaments are intentionally made to resemble food.
I’m a firm believer that different things work for different moms, so here is a list of 7 ways to keep your child safe this festival season:
1. SKIP THE TREE
I know a couple of mothers who decide that it is best to skip putting up trees when they have young kids. These houses can still be decorated in other ways, but they focused on decorations that were out of the reach of exploring fingers (wreaths on doors, stockings hung from mantels, figurines set up on high shelves, etc.).
2. BABY GATES
Another option that can be used is a segmented baby gate. You can surround the tree with these gates so that the kids can’t reach the trees. You may have one of these in your home already or you can easily get one from an online retailer or local store. You can even use bows and garlands to decorate the gates so they look festive!
3. PICK A FRESH TREE
The best way to minimize the risk from a Christmas tree is to select a fresh tree and water it, often. Fresh trees have green, pliant needles that do not come out easily and a trunk that shows sticky resin. Cutting the trunk shorter by a few inches can improve water absorption and slow down drying. Parents should always set trees up away from fireplaces, radiators, or heaters; they can be ignition sources as well as speed up drying.
4. KID-FRIENDLY DECORATIONS
To adjust your holiday season as per your toddler, you can decorate the tree in order to make it safe for kids to explore and redecorate. An easy example is to use ribbon instead of ornament hooks and use only plush or shatter-proof ornaments. No mother enjoys a Christmas where her child cannot participate in the festivities. So, instead of keeping the kids out of the tree, they let them play with it all they want! Just be careful that the tree is anchored, so it does not tip over.
Sometimes the best way to keep kids’ hands off of something is to keep them busy with something else. Over the last few years, felt Christmas trees have become a popular way to occupy kids’ hands during the Christmas season. These, along with other Christmas tree activities, can keep kids occupied for hours. You can also use baby-friendly stickers to decorate your walls and keep your toddler engaged with these fun stickers from Cradle plus.
6. PRESENT WALL
If the thought of an unsightly gate around your tree isn’t something you want to do, why not get creative with all those gifts surrounding the tree? If you have big enough boxes you can wrap them up and arrange them in a way that closes off access to glass ornaments or wires.
7. TREE ON A TABLE
This is the easiest way to keep the tree out of your child's reach. The only thing to keep in mind is to choose the right table. You can use a formal dining table or a small folding table, but anything that is wobbly is off the table (pun intended).
In the end, what matters is you celebrate Christmas with all your family together and happy!