This Christmas is probably going to be unlike any other and we are all likely to be spending a lot more time at home than we would normally at this often hectic time of the year. We think this is the perfect excuse to make your home your very own Christmas wonderland and create some new family traditions. But, if you have little ones, then there are a few things you need to be aware of to ensure you all have a merry and safe Christmas this year.
We have teamed up with Fred Safety to bring you our guide to a safe Christmas with your cheeky little elves…
Deck the halls with boughs of holly…?
Maybe not. We all love to decorate our homes with festive decorations and even the traditional holly and ivy, but when you have little ones you need to be cautious. Holly berries are actually poisonous for people and pets and even the leaves can be poisonous, although they are so prickly that little ones don’t tend to try them! If you really can’t live without it then it is best to hang it up far out of reach of little hands and remove any berries before hanging, as they often drop from the branches over time and could easily be picked up off the floor and eaten before you realise.
You need to be careful to keep young children away from fragile decorations like snow globes etc, so it is best to lift anything breakable out of reach and onto a high shelf to be safe.
Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree…
…How lovely are your branches! This song may as well have been written by a toddler, because they will instantly be drawn towards your Christmas tree like a moth to a flame. Unless you want to spend your entire Christmas pulling your toddler away from the tree and putting your decorations back on it, you might want to consider decorating only the top half of the tree. Intrepid toddler explorers might start trying to climb up the tree though, which could cause it to tip and create another hazard. The safest option is to choose a smaller tree and raise it up on top of a sturdy cupboard fitted with an anti-tip kit. Or there are some lovely alternative Christmas trees available such as wall hangings made of wood and fairy lights in the shape of trees, which could be hung out of reach on a wall instead.
Christmas tree decorations are often quite small and might present a choking hazard for little ones who like to explore everything with their mouths. Fred Safety have designed a choke tester to help parents’ identify items that could cause a child to choke. This little red device is small enough to keep in your pocket while you are decorating the house for the festive season. Simply insert small decorations into the choke tester. If they are too big to fit inside then they are ok, but if they fit snuggly inside the choke tester then they are a potential hazard and need to be packed away again until your little elves are older, or positioned high up and out of their reach.
Buy your choke tester tool here
Consider whether larger decorations could be easily pulled apart by a toddler and whether the smaller pieces could then become a choking hazard e.g. small buttons or pom-poms. And avoid very delicate glass decorations too.
All I want for Christmas is… safe toys!
Decorations aren’t the only potential choking hazard at Christmas. If you have older children too, they probably have lots of lovely toys on their Christmas lists with little parts. Lego, Sylvanian Families, Barbie dolls etc all come with small pieces that can easily become a choking hazard if left where baby can find them. Keep your choke tester handy on Christmas day and if items fit inside, encourage your older children to play with them up on the dining table or in their bedrooms away from little ones who might like to chew them! Older kids love using the choke tester to try items of all shapes and sizes so you can make it a fun game to play together and get them onboard with keeping younger siblings safe.
Unfortunately lots of children’s toys now contain button batteries which are the tiny circular, flat batteries which are extremely dangerous if swallowed. Often the manufacturer will provide spare batteries for your convenience but these are very hazardous if left lying around, so be extra vigilant on Christmas day to make sure you quickly collect any spare button batteries out of the packaging and put them away in a high cupboard out of reach. Even better, remove the spare batteries from the packet before you wrap the gift so you can relax on Christmas day.
Driving home for Christmas?
If we are allowed to visit our family and friends this Christmas, then it is a good idea to take stair gates with you to keep your little one safe over the festive period. It might feel like an imposition to ask your loved ones to install a stair gate, especially if you don’t visit very often, but it will make a huge difference to your stress levels if you know your little one can’t climb up or down the stairs on their own. If you choose pressure fit stair gates then they are easy to put up and take down and they shouldn’t leave a mark on your host’s stairs.
You might also want to take some plug socket covers, your baby monitor and your travel cot or baby’s moses basket, to ensure your little one has their own safe sleep space for the duration of your stay and doesn’t have to lay their sweet head in a manger.
Oh come all ye faithful…
…but please watch the baby. If you end up hosting Christmas this year then don’t be afraid to ask your friends and family to look after your little one while you wrestle with the turkey. The kitchen is one of the most hazardous rooms in the house and the last thing you want to be doing on Christmas day is worrying about little children getting stepped on or burning themselves on the oven or getting their hands on the carving knife. You need them out of harms way and playing with the in-laws so you can lovingly (and safely!) prepare the Christmas feast.
If we end up in lockdown for Christmas then ask someone in your bubble to fulfil this role while you prepare the food, or pop your little one in their highchair and give them something fun to play with so you know they are out of harms way. They will love banging on a saucepan with a wooden spoon for example, so put some Christmas tunes on and enjoy having fun together while you cook.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year
Whatever your Christmas looks like this year, we wish you all a happy and safe one with your nearest and dearest. Now, more than ever, we need Christmas and all the wonder that it brings, and by putting in place a few safety measures now, you will be free to relax and enjoy every moment together.
Merry Christmas everyone!