With holidays approaching, everyone needs to consider child safety and travel issues. There are hazards at home, hazards on the road, and hazards at the homes of those with whom we are sharing the holidays. It's important to plan now so that everyone can have a happy, safe holiday season full of warm memories.
Holiday plants: Although much is made of the dangers of the poinsettia plant, there are other plants that are far more toxic. Mistletoe can cause severe stomach cramps and diarrhea == and can even be fatal. Holly and pyracantha are other toxic plants often used in holiday decorations that can cause vomiting. Large amounts of poinsettia ingestion can cause cramping - but the amount would have to be far more than for ingestion of these other plants.
The Christmas Tree: Christmas trees can be placed in playpens, on top of tables (without a tablecloth), or secured to the wall. Children often pull on the tree, and the whole thing comes down. Ornaments should be placed above the level of the child's reach. Avoid using glass ornaments. Use care with strings of electric lights. Like many appliance cords, most strings of Christmas tree lights are coated with plastic that contains lead. Aside from the risk of electrical injury, children are also at risk of lead exposure. Be aware that some older artificial trees or trees made in China may contain unsafe levels of lead and may give off dust - spreading lead throughout the air.
Stocking Hangers: Although decorative to hang stockings by hangers above the fireplace, these are especially dangerous for toddlers and young children. Many curious children have head injuries or facial injuries when they pull these heavy objects down on them while trying to get into the stockings.
Foods: During holiday times, there are often bowls of goodies sitting around and easily accessible. Parents of children with food allergies, especially nut allergies, should be very aware of foods that are sitting out at family gatherings. Parents must also watch for foods that are choking hazards for small children.
Candles: Children are often mesmerized by fire and candles. It is important to not place candles on tables with table cloths. It may be too tempting to pull the cloth and knock the candle over. Care should be taken to keep lit menorahs in safe places. One should never hold a lit candle while carrying a baby.
Travel: Travel with toddlers is exhausting. Plan for plenty of extra time for stops. Stop frequently for bathroom breaks and to just stretch your legs. You need to remain rested so that you can drive safely. Take plenty of snacks for the car or airplane. Take toys that will keep your child entertained. Try to schedule naps into your visiting schedule - visiting becomes much more difficult when your child is overtired.
Choking hazards: There are many choking hazards available to small children over the holidays. Gift packaging and toys with small parts are dangers. These could be from your child's gift or from an older child's gift. Everyone should be reminded to keep anything with small parts away from the baby. Batteries bought for new toys are especially dangerous. If you suspect that your child has swallowed a battery, you must seek help immediately.
Child proofing: When visiting others, you must watch your small child carefully. Most homes without babies or toddlers will not be child proofed. Even if celebrating the holidays at home, visitors may forget to keep drawers or toilet seats latched - or may leave certain doors open that you typically close. Remind visitors of your child safety practices, and don't be surprised if they sometimes forget - check things often.
By following these holiday tips, you will be well on your way to having a happy and memorable holiday season. Children make the holidays all the more special and exciting, but they also make the planning a little more challenging.