If you're lucky, your baby is still small enough this year that they're not going to mess with a decorated tree. I was that fortunate last year, as my daughter was almost 6 months old on Yule, she could sit up, but not yet crawl.
This year, I'm not so lucky. Ask any of my friends, and they'll tell you my daughter is a unique brand of trouble -- I think she takes it as a personal challenge. For those of you with babies who can already crawl or even walk, setting up a pretty, decorated tree with presents underneath can pose dangers and a unique challenge.
A scary fact is many, many babies and toddlers end up in the ER every year after they bite a light cord or an ornament that shatters and cuts their mouth, often requiring stitches. Tinsel can even pose a really serious threat to the intestines if swallowed.
I brainstormed with my friends to find baby-safe ways to put up your tree.
Hanging a tree upside-down may be a great solution if you have high ceilings. You can have the bulk of the branches and therefore lights and ornaments high enough to be out of baby's reach. Plus it just looks cool, and for small apartments, it allows more room to put presents under the tree without taking up additional floor space, I guess.
If you have the room and the gate (or money for one), setting up a large baby-gate or play-yard around the tree can allow you to put up your tree like normal, but kids who can pull up or walk can reach over it, so either have it far enough away from the tree that they can't touch, or don't put ornaments low enough that they can get ahold of them.
The solution I'm considering is putting my tree on my table. My tree is big and my ceilings are not, so I'm hoping I can attach the top half of my fake tree to the base, leaving out the bottom pieces. We'll see how well that works out. If you have a smaller tree, you can try putting it on a table out of baby's reach as well, and presents on the table, too.
There are other safety precautions to consider like those "Christmas" lights -- they are often made with lead-covered cords, some even incredibly dangerously high in lead levels. A child’s recommended "safe" limit is 15 micrograms, and the test results ranged from 3.2 to 132.7 on various brands of lights! When handling lights, wear gloves, wash your hands, and never let children or pets touch them or chew on them (obviously, electrocution is a huge issue, too). You can also buy lead-free lights, though they're a little harder to get your hands on -- look for ones labeled "RoHS compliant," which IKEA lights actually are.
Regarding tinsel, as I mentioned earlier, it can pose a threat to the intestines of both your baby and your pets if swallowed. Same goes for ribbons (watch this while opening presents too). They can get partially stuck in the intestine, and as the rest moves down and gets pulled, it can start cutting into the intestinal tract. Really scary. And though gross to think about, if you see tinsel or ribbon sticking out of your cat (or baby's) butt, DO NOT PULL but take them to the ER. Honestly, it's best to just skip the pretty stuff with pets and small children around. Opt for short-fibered tinsel-garlands instead.
And of course, you don't want your kids tearing into everyone's presents before the big day, and inevitably eating the wrapping paper and gift tags.
What ways are you keeping kids safe from your tree?