How to Toddler-Proof Your Christmas Tree


christmas tree toddlerThere it is, your decorated Christmas tree (or Chrismukkah tree, as the case may be), all shiny and decorated with things your toddler can't wait to put in her mouth. It's tall and beautiful and just waiting for your toddler to pull it down on top of himself. Merry Chr -- NO, SCHYLER, NO!

Sigh. My toddler almost ruined Christmas for me. He saw that tree, with all its bling, and couldn't wait to play with it all. And since he could walk, there was nothing stopping him from running over to it all day long. I seem to recall at some point more ornaments on my living room floor than on the tree. And we were constantly trying to keep him from climbing it like a prickly piece of playground equipment. What's a holiday decoration-loving parent to do? Depending on your level of control-freakishness, you have a few options.

The totally toddler-friendly tree: Start with a tree that's too short and squatty to knock over, something around 3 feet tall. Don't string with lights or anything else that you plug in. Find ornaments with no sharp corners or edges. What the hell, use your kid's bath toys. Loop string around everything (instead of using those deathy wire hangers) and let your child hang the ornaments for the 2-3 seconds that their attention span allows. Then hang the rest yourself. Shrug and have some eggnog when the bath toys/ornaments end up all over your living room.

The tree fortress: Decorate the tree exactly the way YOU want with the same lethal, heirloom, eye-poking-out, and electrocuting ornaments you always use. Now install a safety gate around the tree. Make sure the tree is in a corner so you can bolt the gate to the wall on either side. Hire some neighborhood teenagers to guard the tree in shifts because some toddlers are smarter than the average gate.

The compromise tree: Okay, so maybe some of your decorations aren't that dangerous. Perhaps you can use those knit stars from Aunt Ada or those mini-stockings. Let you toddler hang some of them (loops, not hooks!). And then have a conversation with your young destroyer about how mad Santa will be if he knocks the tree over. Not for climbing! Santa's watching! Good luck to you, elves.

What are you doing to toddler-proof your tree?


Image via Adriana Velez



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soy_l... soy_latte

We did a combination of relatively safe ornaments, constant badgering and physical barriers in the past. It was a seriously annoying part of the holidays for the past four years. 

Now, my youngest son is 2.5 and (thank-fucking-gingerbread) he hasn't touched it. No trying to go under, beside or behind it. No "accidentally" falling into it. No pulling or shaking anything OFF the tree. No trying to dropping, tossing or putting anything that doesn't belong IN the tree. Hasn't laid a finger on it. 

ashjo85 ashjo85

A sharp redirection within 5 feet of the tree without an adult in hand seems to have made this a non-issue. We have a 2.5 year old who still creeps up close, but has never actually tried to do anything destructive.

butte... butterflymkm

We just put the tree in a room where the toddler doesn't go often. It was actually much harder to keep our ferrets from climbing the dang thing and knocking ornaments off!


Kid friendly ornaments and reminder to touch w 1 finger- she can't grab anything w 1 finger :)

Julie Winkler

My family never had any problem, and there were five kids that all went through that stage. I think my mom set boundries and actually reprimanded us if we tried grabbing at things on the tree. Mabye we were all good kids, but I think she and my dad were just really good parents...they told us no and we listened because there would be consequenses if we didn't...our Christmas and tree was always merry and bright!


keriley1 keriley1

We have the only half decorated tree. We put all the ornaments just high enough she can't reach anything. It looks kinda funny but its better then nothing!!!!!

mamaj... mamajen82

We put our tree in the corner flanked by our couches. It's pretty much hilarious :-) and we nixed the glass balls.

MnPMo... MnPMommie

All of that sounds great. I don't foresee any problems out of my almost 3 year old princess. But what do I do to keep my 6 month old crawler/roller-unbeleivablystrong- son from tearing it down?

ferre... ferrellmt

we had twins, so we put theTREE in the playpen. It was great and got lots of laughs.

Stephanie Robertson

We have a 6' artificial with only plastic bobbles, bead garland, and lights on it, and it sits against the middle of the main wall in the living room - no barricades because we simply don't have any, and there's nowhere else to put the tree! When my oldest (now 5) was little, twice did we caught him with a plastic bobble in hand, but we put it back on the tree instantly and reminded sharply it was not for touching - he could look as close as he wanted to the ornaments (many times his nose was touching them), but no touching with hands. So far my youngest (18mo) has been pretty good - the worst day was when we were decorating it, but I just gave him one of the larger plastic bobbles with no hook to throw around while me and my oldest did the rest of the decorating... now my youngest will look at the tree sideways, walk close to it, and on occasion poke at a few of the bobbles, but hasn't tried to take another ornament off again (yet).

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