PAMF Health Blog

Be Well, Be Well Informed

Tips for a Safe and Healthy Holiday

Posted on Dec 16, 2014


Holiday decorations, twinkly lights, special foods, gifts and family get-togethers. The holidays can be a magical time of year for children, but all that excitement and fun can sometimes result in accidents and health hazards. Follow these precautionary tips from Karin K. Wertz, M.D., a pediatrician at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation to ensure that everyone in your family enjoys a safe and healthy holiday season.

Play it safe with decorations
Discard any broken decorations and strings of lights with frayed cords or loose connections. Hang them up where no one can trip over or get tangled up in them. Hang delicate ornaments and those made of glass out of reach from young children and let them decorate a tree or other areas of the house with sturdier decorations. Edible decorations made with popcorn or candy could also be a choking hazard for curious young children. Keep mistletoe out of reach – it is poisonous.

Give the perfect (age-appropriate) gift
Always follow age recommendations for toys you give. Make sure your child knows how to use a toy properly. For young children, avoid toys with small parts and button batteries, which are choking hazards. Check toys to make sure they are well-made and are labeled nontoxic. If your child is given a gift with a battery, check that the battery case seals well and can’t be opened easily. Remove any toy that could cause danger to your child and replace it with something safe.

Keep a close eye on kids at holiday parties
You might not know other people’s houses as well as your own and don’t know the potential dangers, such as stairs, balconies or pools, or what childproofing they have in place. The best way to keep your children safe is to keep an eye on them at all times. If you have very young children, look out for foods including nuts or popcorn placed within their reach that could be a choking hazard. Special holiday drinks left unattended, such as alcoholic eggnog or colorful holiday punches, can look very appealing to young children. It only takes a small amount of alcohol for children to get intoxicated. Help your child enjoy any special holiday foods in moderation so he or she doesn’t get sick.

Simplify your holiday schedule
It’s tempting to pack in as many fun activities as you can so that your child can enjoy all the facets of a wonderful holiday season. Instead of trying to do it all, keep it simple – pick one or two age-appropriate activities and focus on those. As much as possible, try and stick to your child’s regular schedule in regards to meals, naps and bed times. Your child will enjoy a special outing more if she is well-rested and not hungry. Don’t forget that exercise is an excellent stress buster – get the whole family outside regularly for some fresh air and to burn off calories and excess energy.

Avoid giving and receiving illness
Make sure everyone in your family, 6 months and older, gets their flu vaccination annually as this is the best way to avoid getting the flu. You should also teach your kids to wash their hands well and frequently. Encourage them not to touch their faces. Carry hand sanitizer with you for when you are out and about. Avoiding close contact – such as hugs and kisses – during holiday visits with anyone who is sick can help stop any infection spreading. If you are traveling during the holidays, make sure you have a plentiful supply of any medications your child uses regularly, your health insurance card and a basic first aid kit with you. Also, don’t forget your child’s favorite stuffed animal or blanket for comfort and reassurance if your child does get sick while traveling.