How to Toddler-Proof Your Christmas Tree
Protect your little one from the tree, and vice versa
When your toddler wants to get up-close and personal with your Christmas tree, the results can be bad for both child and decor. Protect them both with these tips courtesy of Safe Kids Worldwide and John Drengenberg, consumer safety director for UL.
Related: How to Put Up a Christmas Tree
Put your Christmas tree in a corner (at least three feet away from any heat source). This makes it easier to fence in and makes it harder for little ones to get to it. Move furniture away from it so your toddler doesn’t try to climb onto the tree from a couch or chair.
Make sure the tree is in a sturdy stand. If you're afraid your rambunctious toddler might somehow tip the tree over, consider attaching it to a hook on the wall with a wire. "As a bonus, if you have a cat or dog, it will make it harder for your pet to knock over the tree and get hurt," says Drengenberg.
Fence it in. You can find all kinds of Christmas tree gates or playgates (aka baby gates or play yards) online and in hardware and big box stores. If you're worried your child might try to pull it over, choose one you can mount on the wall. Avoid vintage Christmas tree fences, especially the kind with sharp wooden pickets. “You don’t want the fence to be a bigger hazard than the tree,” says Drengenberg. “An older model might not follow current standards for, say, the spaces between the slats, and could pose a strangulation hazard. You don’t want your toddler to get his head caught in the fence.”
Skip the jury-rigged barrier. Some parents surround their tree with large wrapped presents or boxes filled with heavy stuff, like blankets or canned goods they plan to donate over the holidays. It may look nice, but there’s one problem: An enterprising toddler may climb onto the boxes and fall headfirst into the tree.
Put any tinsel or breakable ornaments at the top of the tree . If your child does manage to make it to the tree, you don’t want her to cut her hands grabbing a shiny glass ball. And don’t decorate with strings of cranberries or popcorn, because a toddler could easily choke on them.
Keep an eye on what’s under the tree. Ribbons and small toys can be choking hazards for toddlers.
Don’t leave your toddler alone near the tree. No matter how many precautions you take, a determined little person may get around them. “I know it’s easier said than done,” says Drengenberg, “but it’s important to keep an eye on them. The truth is, toddlers are a lot faster than parents and grandparents are.”
Related: Be Tree Smart This Christmas