TMH Living Well: Baby-proofing the Holidays, Toys and All
The holiday season brings ample opportunities for fun and celebration, but it can also bring safety hazards for babies and toddlers. Let’s face it, little ones see your Christmas tree as a huge toy in the middle of the room. Ornaments, holiday plants, sibling’s toys and busy get-togethers all present potential dangers for young children. Here are some tips to keep the holidays safe for the youngest members of the family.
Smart tips for selecting toys
When selecting toys, it’s tempting to think your child is more advanced than the age recommendations on the package. Even if he or she is ahead of schedule, remember that the recommendations are there to not only match intellectual skills but to keep babies and toddlers safe.
“Read the labels for age appropriateness, but use your judgment as a parent when choosing toys. Consider toys that cannot be swallowed or lodged in the airway. Typically, toys should be at least 1 ¼ inches in diameter and at least 2 ¼ inches in length,” suggested Dr. Kristie Yarmer, pediatrician with The Memorial Hospital’s Medical Clinic.
Yarmer also suggested that parents of babies and toddlers avoid toys with sharp edges, toys with long strings or ribbons and toys with button batteries.
Keeping little ones safe from big kid toys
Beyond the holidays, keep babies and toddlers safe from older kids’ toys. Maintain current toys by ensuring there are no broken pieces that could cut and that all battery cases are screwed on tightly.
“Teach your kids to put away toys as soon as they are done playing with them. Give your child plastic bins with tight lids for storing toys with small parts. Place the bins on an upper shelf out of your toddler’s reach,” Yarmer said.
She recommends creating a safe play zone. Maybe that’s with a baby gate for your mobile baby or toddler or with a house rule that your older child can’t take certain toys out of the playroom.
Decorating with safety in mind
Many Christmas ornaments and decorations scream hazard for young children. They are made of thin glass, involve electricity, have small parts and some are potentially poisonous. Take tinsel and tree needles for example — both can choke kids or cause painful cuts in the mouth or throat. Little ones may also pull light strings and potentially tip trees, so make sure trees are well secure and lights are out of reach.
“When decorating your tree, place breakable decorations up high, or forego them altogether. Also, keep in mind that many holiday plants are poisonous, including mistletoe, holly and poinsettias,” Yarmer said.
You might want to wait to put your wrapped gifts under the tree until Christmas Eve. They’ll be a magnet for little ones who will want to rip them open or crawl over them and possibly be poked by sharp objects or broken glass.
Creating safe holiday parties
It’s easy to get distracted as the host of a party and lose track of your little ones for a few minutes. Assign an older child or another family member to be on the watch before the party starts. If Grandma is visiting for the weekend, make sure her medications stay out of reach.
Also, be vigilant about cleaning up unfinished drinks from surfaces, as toddlers like to mimic adults by reaching for a drink and taking a swig. Toddlers are easily affected by alcohol, and alcohol poisoning is a common risk at holiday gatherings.
The Memorial Hospital is pleased to offer pediatric services at TMH Medical Clinic. Dr. Yarmer is accepting new patients, as is our new pediatric physician assistant, Kevin Monahan, CHA, PA-C. To make an appointment, call 970-826-2429. The Clinic is open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday.
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