There is nothing more amazing the seeing the magic of Christmas in a toddler’s eyes. Let’s be honest how many of us as children have pulled off the glass ornaments, warn the shiny garland as a fancy scarf , thrown the tinsel to see how it sparkles as it falls, or have been mesmerized by the twinkling lights and just couldn’t help but to touch them. This curiosity has gotten us into trouble; we have broken things, nocked the tree over or burnt our fingers on the hot lights. As Parents we try to learn from our mistakes as children. Here are a few tips from Head Start/Early Head Start, a program of the Private Industry Council of Westmoreland/Fayette, Inc. to help toddler proof your Christmas tree.
- Get rid of those metal ornament hooks. They are a choking hazard and are found stuck in carpet and on the floor just waiting for small little hands to put them in their mouth. Try replacing them with fancy ribbon.
- Keep the family heirloom glass ornaments at the top of the tree where little hands will not be tempted to touch. If you are like me and want ornaments all the way down to the bottom. Replace the glass ones with fabric or plastic.
- Don’t decorate the bottom. As they say, out of site out mind.
- Avoid the shiny tinsel and garland (ITS SO SPARKLY). If you have to have the sparkle, try replacing it with ribbon.
- Try rope lights instead of the bulbs. I know it’s not as pleasing but the other bulbs get hot and can burn fingers.
- Use an artificial tree especially if likes to play in the water or you don’t know whether or not your child has allergies to pine. It may be a good idea to use an artificial tree and not a real one for a few years.
- Once your tree is up and the way you like it, place a fence or baby gate around it. They are inexpensive and are available at many stores.
My last advice to you is try not to make the tree a forbidden fruit. Let your toddler help you decorate it. Give them the safe ornaments to put on the tree on the bottom and don’t be afraid to rearrange the ornaments once they have gone to bed. It will make them feel a part of the celebration. You can also let them decorate their own special little tree such as a felt tree with things they can take off and on multiple times. If all else fails and your little one still manages to make it through to start patting and poking the shiny balls, it can help to have a lot of bells placed low around the tree – that way, if you hear a sudden chorus of bells jingling, you’ll know the perimeter has been breached and the tree is in danger of a certain curious toddler! You only get this wonder for a short time so enjoy it while you can.