Learning Center

Tips to Protect Children During the Holidays

young girl hanging ornament on tree

Give the gift of safety to the little ones in your life.

Holidays are exciting and festive times for families and often include special foods, decorations and traditions. Unfortunately, when basic safety precautions are overlooked, holidays can turn dangerous for toddlers and small children. Here are some guidelines for keeping youngsters safe this holiday season.


  • Keep hot liquids and foods away from the edges of counters and tables, where they can be knocked over.
  • Prevent burns and scalding by keeping pot handles turned away from the front of the stove (or use back burners) and always keep the oven door closed.
  • Store knives and other sharp objects away from children.


  • Keep lit candles out of reach of small children.
  • Avoid decorations that are sharp, breakable or contain small parts.
  • Don’t use decorations that resemble candy or food.
  • Wrapping paper, bags, ribbons and bows can be suffocation and choking hazards.
  • Be careful of heavy stocking holders that can be pulled down on top of a child.


  • Poisonous plants include mistletoe, holly, Jerusalem cherry and poinsettias. Keep them out of reach of small children or use artificial plants.
  • Bubble lights containing methylene chloride are poisonous.
  • Artificial snow spray (and the propellant) can be harmful if swallowed.
  • Alcohol should never be consumed by a child. Be especially vigilant at holiday parties.


  • Select toys that are age and ability appropriate. Toys too advanced may be a safety hazard for younger children.
  • To avoid the risk of electric shock, select toys that run on batteries instead of plugging into an outlet.
  • If swallowed, button batteries – often found in musical greeting cards, remote controls and other small electronics – can cause serious stomach and intestinal problems, and even death.
  • Un-inflated or broken balloons are a choking hazard.
  • Remove strings and ribbons from toys before giving them to young children.
  • Watch for pull toys with strings that are more than 12 inches long; they could be a strangulation hazard.
  • If giving a bicycle or other riding toy, include a helmet and pads.


  • Tree ornaments, light bulbs, icicles, tinsel and small toys are potential choking hazards.
  • Peanuts, popcorn and small candies are potential choking hazards and should not be given to children under four.
  • Avoid toys with small or removable parts.


  • Keep matches and lighters out of reach of small children.
  • If eaten, fire salts that produce colored flames can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting. Keep them away from small children.
  • Do not burn wrapping paper as a flash fire may result.
  • Use a sturdy screen when a fire is burning.
  • Never leave a child unattended in a room where a fire is burning.

Finally, keep a list of emergency numbers handy: fire department, police department, pediatrician and the national Poison Help Line (1-800-222-1222).