Fort Worth, Texas,
10:44 AM

The 12 Day-ngers of Christmas

A pediatrician talks hidden holiday hazards

It should be the most wonderful time of the year, but you don’t want to spend it in the emergency room. New decorations and experiences can cause accidents and pose a danger for your child.

Here are 12 day-ngers of Christmas:

  1. Fireplace - Lighting a fire is one of my favorite winter time activities but it can be very dangerous for kids. Young children should always be supervised when around the fire and you should have them inspected regularly to prevent potential problems.
  2. Candles – If you’re anything like my wife, the first thing you want to do when you get home is light a candle. The smells can really put you in the Christmas spirit but little hands love to explore flames and hot wax can be just as dangerous.
  3. Small decorations – Small decorations (manger scenes or small tree ornaments) can be a significant choking hazard this time of year. Because they are often colorful and shiny, they can be spotted from across the house and crawling babies will find them.
  4. Glass decorations – Little feet and crawling knees get glass in them frequently this time of year. A solid barrier around the tree and keeping fragile ornaments up high can help.
  5. Stocking holders – Heavy stocking hangers can be a risk for kids as they reach up to pull down on the stocking and the heavy holder can cause skull fractures and bruises. Use lighter hooks, tape or otherwise secure the holders in some other way. It could even knock out your child’s two front teeth.
  6. Tree allergies – Kids can be allergic to trees and this is the only time of year where we bring in a gigantic live allergen into our homes. If you are an allergic type family, think about an artificial tree; especially if your kid always end up miserable around Christmas-time.
  7. Christmas tree water – Yes, kids will drink water anywhere they find it. The Christmas tree base is the perfect height for a crawling baby to lap it right up. Find kid safe tree nutrients or make sure that they are kept away from the base.
  8. Holly/mistletoe berries – The old time fear of poinsettias may be true if your child ingests several flowers which can lead to abdominal cramping but the real risk is holly berries. Ingestion can cause severe stomach cramps and diarrhea from even just a berry or two.
  9. Unstable tree base – Make sure that your tree is properly installed and the base is broad enough to prevent tip over if a child decides to do some indoor tree climbing practice or is rockin' around it.
  10. Ladders – The process of decorating can be just as enjoyable as the decorations themselves. But ladder falls are common …your child doesn’t need to see you toppling over so be careful amateurs. Also be sure and put them away after each use so that little kids don’t decide that they can “help” later.
  11. Electrical outlets – This time of year new things need to be plugged in and unplugged but don’t forget about your plug covers and electrical safety. Keep the cover nearby and replace it each time you unplug that tree or other decoration.
  12. Hot drinks – Decorating and celebrating Christmas means more hot chocolate and apple cider but wandering little hands are eager to see what’s in that colorful mug…

This time of year can be amazing as a family…but stay alert.

When your baby is in a new house or environment be extra vigilant.

Take precautions as you deck the halls to prepare for safety at home.

Have a Merry Christmas!

Get to know Justin Smith, M.D.

Justin Smith, M.D., is a pediatrician in Trophy Club  and the Medical Advisor for Digital Health for Cook Children's in Fort Worth, Texas. Dr. Smith is an experienced keynote speaker for a variety of topics including pediatric/parenting topics, healthcare social media and physician leadership. If you are interested in having Dr. Smith present to your conference or meeting, please contact him at

He has an active community on both Facebook and Twitter as @TheDocSmitty and writes weekly for Cook Children's He believes that strategic use of social media and technology by pediatricians to connect with families can deepen their relationship and provide a new level of convenience for both of their busy lifestyles. Dr. Smith’s innovative pediatric clinic, a pediatric clinic “designed by you,” open now. Click to learn more. To make an appointment, call 817-347-8100.


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