Heading into the holidays with a new baby? If your little one is mobile, you might want to rethink some of your old decorations—all those sparkles and lights will draw baby in like nobody's business. No, you don’t need to play the Grinch; just take a few extra precautions. Check out the tips from parent coach (and mom) Alexandra Blumencranz, CPC, founder of Positive Parent Coaching Inc. in Clearwater, Florida.
If you'll have a Christmas tree this season, be careful with what’s in reach of crawlers or toddlers. “Keep glass or sharp ornaments off the bottom of the tree, with only plastic or wooden ornaments on the [lower branches],” says Blumencranz. “Keep in mind too that branches are also easy things to grab.” You certainly don't want the whole tree tumbling down! So what's a mom to do? Take a cue from Blumencranz's own holiday routine: For the first few years as a mom, she bought a four-foot tree and placed it on a table atop a pretty cloth. That way it was festive—but out of reach. Can't sacrifice the eight-foot sparkling wonder? Baby gates are always an option.
There's no need to throw out all of your festive décor, but make sure you aren't placing anything dangerous within baby's grasp. Check garlands and wreaths for small things that could be ripped off and eaten, and if you’re buying dreidels, make sure they’re too big for baby’s mouth. Also, be wary of older strands of lights that might get very hot. Candles should be kept out of reach too. Mistletoe and holly can be toxic, so secure them where they can't be easily knocked loose. (Contrary to popular belief, poinsettias are perfectly safe.)
If your holidays are usually punctuated by mounds of packaging, just keep an eye out for anything that could be too sharp or too small. While a wad of wrapping paper can actually make for a decent toddler distraction, Blumencranz warns that ribbons and bows can get wrapped around baby's neck or even eaten, which is especially dangerous if held together by a staple. Also, quickly toss any plastic packaging left lying around when gifts are opened—it's a major suffocation hazard.
*Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas...there's one thing that pretty much all holidays have in common: food. And lots of it. “Be careful of hot dishes or pans,” Blumencranz says. When the buffet is laid out, do a quick check to push back anything that baby could reach. And, if your kitchen is brimming with Aunts, Grandpas and hot plates, consider keeping the kiddos clear by setting up another room with a few baby-safe holiday games, crafts or silly toys. For Thanksgiving, check out the cute turkey headbands from Pottery Barn Kids; for Christmas, the KidKraft Santa Stacking Train at Target; or for Hanukkah, let the little ones decorate their own cardboard menorahs, like the ones at OyToys.com.