To Grandmother's House We Go

December 23, 2008

Make sure little ones are safe at Grandma's by being aware of small objects, unlocked cabinets and nervous pets.

Holidays are all about togetherness. With gift exchanges, story-telling, and a whole lot of cooking going on, it’s easy for curious little hands to get hold of some items that are potentially dangerous. While homes with toddlers and infants are usually child-proofed, keep in mind that the residences of family members without young children aren’t nearly as safe.

“We see a lot of toddlers getting injuries when visiting grandparents or at holiday parties where their parents are otherwise distracted,” said Anne Brayer, M.D., co-director of Injury Free Coalition for Kids and pediatrician for Emergency Medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

When heading off to see grandma, keep these things in mind:

  • Before settling down with friends and family, take a quick assessment of the room you and your little one are in. Don’t let babies crawl off without having made sure there are no open outlets, electric cords, little items a baby could swallow, pointy objects. If toddlers can walk, try to keep them away from coffee tables, wall corners that jut out, or any other sharp edges an infant could hit her head on.
  • Pay special attention to children in kitchens, bathrooms, or near cabinets that hold cleaning supplies. Baby-proof locks are usually not used in homes without babies and toddlers can get hurt or swallow something poisonous without proper supervision.
  • Make sure children are never without an adult. Cousins or other grade school-aged children may not recognize potentially hazardous situations and often get carried away amusing one another, without making safety for infants a priority.
  • Carefully monitor a child’s interaction with pets. Children will probably want to grab Fluffy’s tail or try to climb Fido, which may cause pets to lash out. “Dog bites are especially problematic this time of year. Grandpa’s dog is not used to toddlers around the house,” said Brayer. Even more subdued pets can easily knock over little ones.

No one wants to take a trip to the emergency room on a special holiday, so while it may seem cumbersome to pay extra attention to little ones, remember that they are unfamiliar with their surroundings and likely to explore. Making sure young children are supervised and properly cared for ensures a merry season for all.

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