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How To Keep Young Children Safe at Christmas

Updated: Dec 14, 2021

Enjoy peace of mind by following these simple tips.

All of the lights, smells, and sounds of Christmas are very enticing to children of all ages. But how do you keep the youngest in your brood safe with so many exciting and new temptations around?

Little Girl in Santa hat looking into cardboard box


Before we get into the nitty-gritty, one easy and important thing you can do before you start decorating, cooking, baking, or celebrating is to make sure your fire detectors are working.


Choose The Right Decorations

  • Make sure you keep nuts, candy, and small ornaments out of reach. These can pose a choking hazard.

  • Invest in an artificial tree(s). They are cleaner and safer as they don't shed needles (which young children may try to eat), and have no sap to get on tiny fingers. Make sure the tree is labeled "fire-resistant."

  • If you just don't feel it is Christmas without a live tree, make sure you keep allergy issues with your entire family in mind. Some live Christmas trees, including cedars, can cause asthma, allergies, and an itchy skin rash because they can be filled with mold spores and allergens.

  • Use longer-lasting, cost-effective, and cooler to touch LED lights to prevent burns.

  • Bubble lights contain a chemical that's harmful if swallowed or gets on the skin. Keep these out of reach even if labeled "non-toxic."

  • Skip the poisonous plants like mistletoe, poinsettias, holly berries, cedar berries, and other plant materials that can hurt both children and pets if ingested.

Child-safe holiday ornaments made of paper
  • Use shatterproof ornaments at child level. Felt and plastic ornaments without sequins or small pieces that won't fit into a child's mouth are best.

  • If you use wire hooks to hang your ornaments, make sure they are securely fastened (bent around a branch) and double-check that none have fallen on the floor.

  • Try to avoid ornaments that resemble candy or food.

  • If you put candles in your windows, make sure they are securely attached to the windowsill. Cords should be hidden and secured to another surface.

  • Don't paint your windows with fake snow. Little ones may try to lick it and get upset stomachs.

  • Avoid tinsel icicles. These are another choking hazard.

  • Some older ornaments may contain lead or have been decorated with lead paint. Make sure these ornaments are well out of reach.

Limit Access

Decorated Christmas tree with small picket fence around the base to keep it child and pet safe
  • Put a child gate around your tree far enough away so a child can touch the needle tips but not the ornaments or a firm branch. If a gate isn't possible, anchor the tree to a wall or ceiling with fishing line to help prevent a child from pulling it over.

  • Shiny, sparkly objects are natural enticements to children, so make sure they are high enough so children cannot easily grab hold.

  • Use electric/battery-operated candles in lieu of burning candles. If burning candles are non-negotiable, never leave them unattended.

  • Create no-go zones that children know they mustn't enter around ovens, fireplaces, candles, and breakable decorations. Don't be afraid to use the word "dangerous" when pointing out electric or breakable decorations that pose a fire, burn, or injury risk.

  • When cooking, use the back burners whenever possible.

  • Keep a close eye on your children if visiting another home where the same precautions may not be in place.

Mom and daughters in christmas hats wrapping presents at table
  • Pay attention to what presents others have given to your children to ensure there are no hazards, not just with the toy but also the packaging.

  • Remove all wrapping and packaging materials as soon as possible, as some can pose a suffocating risk. Pay particular attention to oversized plastic bags children (and cats) may want to "hide" in.

  • Whether egg nog, mulled wine, a warm brandy, or a cold beer, make sure alcoholic beverages are kept out of reach and never unattended. In a poison emergency, call the national Poison Control Center at 800-222-1222.

  • If entertaining, place ingredient cards or festive menus so guests will know if they should avoid something that could cause an allergic reaction.

  • Chex Mix, small candies, nuts, popcorn, and other hard small foods should not be served to small children to prevent choking.

New Toys

  • Check toys for loose parts or things that might break off easily.

  • Make sure toys are age-appropriate and read labels for age recommendations and potential choking information.

  • Keep toys that could be a choking hazard away from small children, including balloons, marbles, coins, small balls, and toys with small parts.

  • If any device requires or comes with button batteries, make sure these are kept out of tiny hands. Saliva can trigger an electronic or chemical reaction which can result in severe internal injuries.

One more helpful tip:

Little boy riding bicycle in safety helmet that looks like a teddy bear face

If you think a bike, skateboard, skates, or even tricycle will be under the tree, make sure you have a helmet ready. There is nothing worse than a child who wants to try out his new scooter but can't because a helmet wasn't included.

And don't forget extra batteries in all sizes!


These are all simple steps you can take to ensure a safe and joyous holiday for your entire family. After all, no one wants to spend the holidays at the doctor's, unless, of course, you are a doctor.


Sources:,, Cleveland Clinic,



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