It may be the most wonderful time of the year to some people, but to plenty of parents, the holidays can be stressful at best and dangerous at worst. If you have a little one, then you likely know already how infants have this remarkable gift of getting themselves into precarious situations. That's why it's so important to consider the safety risks in your own home and be able to prevent them. Learning how to babyproof a Christmas tree isn't only an important way to protect your baby this season, it's surprisingly easy and affordable to do, too.
In between the shopping and family visits, it can seem virtually impossible to cross off every single item that's still left on your Christmas to-do list. Multiply that list 100 times for each child or pet you have and it's completely understandable that preparing for a fun and safe holiday season is totally overwhelming. Luckily, you can cross at least one thing off your checklist and give yourself some peace of mind at the same time when you get rid of any potential health hazards around the tree. So check out these practical — and relatable — ways you can babyproof your Christmas tree this year.
1. Anchor It
You might not have ever thought of this, but Christmas trees can be a falling hazards for babies. Dr. H. Garry Gardner, then-chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics's Committee on Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention, told Parenting that you should anchor your Christmas tree to the wall to avoid it tipping over. What's the best way? According to Benjamin Hoffman, MD, FAAP, the current chair at the AAP, "having a large and stable base, ensuring the tree is firmly attached to the base" is an important step to optimize tree safety. The next step is to "tether the upper trunk so it will not fall over," he says. To do so, you can tie a piece of twine around the trunk, and anchor it to the wall using a screw, or picture hanger, he describes.
2. Opt For Ribbons
Perhaps today's Christmas ornaments and decorations aren't made the same way, but when I was a kid, I remember all of the shiny baubles hung on the tree with metal hooks. According to Disney Baby, when it comes to hanging all those decorative accents on your fir, "ribbon is the safest choice as ornament hooks pose a serious choking risk." You don't even have to toss out all your old trinkets for new one's either. You can easily replace the hazardous hooks with your own choice of decorative ribbon or string.
3. Use Bubble Wrap
Ok, not really.
As a parent, I often wish I could cover the whole world with that protective layer if it meant I could spare my child any painful accidents. But wishes and reality rarely line up, so while it's not practical to buy a tree, decorate it, and then wrap it up in several layers until you can't tell what it is anymore, a mom can still dream, can't she?
4. Mind The Reach
If you want to protect your baby, you have to think like your baby, right? Try to see things from your child's line of sight and make sure to keep any pointy or breakable items away. "Every year I see a child who has taken a bite of an ornament," Gardner told Parenting. Going to the emergency room definitely does not sound like a fun way to spend your holiday evening. Keeping the lower limbs of your Christmas tree free of any potential health hazards is an easy way to babyproof it.
5. Go Green — Literally
Who says you need an actual tree for it to Christmas? You can sculpt a tree out of green foam (no sharp edges, of course) or decorate your wall with artsy tree cut-outs. The only risk there is is a paper cut, right? Honestly, it may sound humorous, but a faux Christmas tree might be a safer alternative during your baby's first year of life.
6. Start Off Right
As with most things in life, starting things off on the right foot helps everything run smoothly from then on out. "You shouldn’t whittle or taper the trunk to fit the stand, as this makes it less stable and more difficult to hold upright," editors at Reader's Digest recently noted. So make sure you start your season off the safe way by properly securing your tree in its stand. And if you're extra, then proceeding to drill the whole thing to the floor.
7. Get A Baby Gate
Your default is probably to quarantine your baby, but if you have a crawling infant or a tumbling tot, then we suggest setting a baby gate up around the tree. This way your beautifully decorated Christmas tree stays safe and sound from all unpredictable elements including some curious pets and your own offspring.
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Editor's note: This post as been updated from its previous version.