Holiday-Proofing Your Home

The holidays bring special childproofing challenges. We tell you how to protect your little one from the hazards that festive foods and decorations can present.
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The holidays bring special childproofing challenges. Now that your little one is mobile, it will take planning and a watchful eye to protect her from the hazards that holiday foods and decorations can present. All fireplaces must be securely screened, and candle holders and menorahs placed out of reach. Even so, your child should never be left unattended in any room containing an open flame -- children this age are too quick and curious to be predictable. Such poisonous plants as mistletoe and holly may be more accessible during this time of year, too; be sure to keep them out of reach. The same applies to poinsettias, whose acrid juices can irritate a child's mouth and throat.

Holiday parties -- at your house or someone else's -- can present other hazards as well. Even a small amount of wine, beer, or liquor sipped from an unattended glass at a party may be highly toxic to a child this age. So can cigarette butts, which 1-year-olds have been known to eat. Keep ashtrays and glasses at adults-only level. And watch out for party foods that might present a choking hazard. Among the most dangerous are nuts, olives, small hard candies, cocktail franks, and popcorn.

Finally, protect your child and your treasured holiday ornaments by displaying and decorating your Christmas tree carefully. Secure your tree in a wide, stable base so there's no chance that a little one's tug will topple it, and if it's a pine, make sure your child doesn't try eating the needles, which are a choking hazard. Don't hang anything on the tree that would break your heart to lose; put fragile ornaments near the top, out of reach. Anything hung within reach of your child should be sturdy, too large to swallow, and free of sharp edges, toxic paint, and small parts that might be pulled off and swallowed. Tinsel is also a choking hazard, so save it for another year.

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

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