Child-proofing tips for the holidays

How to have a safe and enjoyable holiday stay with your baby or toddler
(Sherry Rivoli's advice)

Sharing the holidays with extended family and your baby or toddler can be a great way to make new memories while honoring longtime traditions. Just remember, a little preparation can go a long way toward allowing you to relax and enjoy the visiting-without constantly chasing after your child or hovering to keep her out of harm's way. Some of the common pitfalls of home-stay vacations you can address ahead of time:

1. Got grandparents? Discuss prescription drugs (including pills, ointments, and drops) with your hosts or other visiting relatives and make a plan to ensure they will be kept out of sight. Just explain that most pills look like candy to toddlers, and those colorful "days of the week" organizers look like a lot of fun to small children.

2. Sit down and relax? It may be a lot easier to do if you rent baby gear at your destination, like a play yard and portable safety gates. Rental agencies will deliver the goods right to your destination, and knowing that your child can't wander after waking from a nap, or make a bee-line for certain off-limits areas can give you a lot of peace of mind. A worldwide directory of rental agencies is online at

What extra hazards should you be prepared for during the holidays?

Naturally, you want to have fun and enjoy your visit and the holidays as much as you can. Do keep in mind, there will be the usual childproofing issues when staying in someone else's home PLUS a few new hazards from the holidays:

  • Toxic plants like mistletoe and poinsettias
  • Decorations galore on the tree and off - glass ornaments, snow globes, etc.
  • Electrical cords from holiday lights around the house and on the Christmas tree
  • Tablecloths and formal place settings are more likely to be in use, tempting babies to pull at the corners and toddlers to perform "magic tricks"
  • Candles are more likely to be used as well, on the dining table, menorah, etc.

So how can you be a good holiday guest-and help keep your child safe?

So you can't exactly show up and rearrange your hosts' furniture, undecorate the Christmas tree, or expect them to use paper plates for the big holiday meal. But here are some ways to help ensure everyone gets to sit down, relax, and enjoy the holiday:

- Bring temporary childproofing items to help eliminate risks without imposing on your hosts - see solutions online at

- Bring a helpful hostess gift from your child. Consider electric tealite candles your hosts can use in place of the real thing, artificial mistletoe, or a silk poinsettia. And don't forget ear plugs if you know your baby is likely to need you in the night!

- Appoint one person (perhaps you or your spouse) to be in charge of the holiday wrappings as gifts are opened. Not only might your hosts appreciate your tidy sorting of the recyclables, but you'll also make sure your child doesn't get tangled in the ribbons or happen upon unsuitable packing materials (including desiccant and preservative packets, toy display wires, etc.).

- Rent a play yard, safety gates, an exersaucer, or other helpful gear to keep your child safe and happy while at your destination. See the international directory of baby gear rental agencies is online at

About Shelly Rivoli:
Shelly Rivoli has traveled with a baby in tow across the U.S., over both Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and around the Mediterranean Sea. Together, her family has made its way by airplane, elephant, subway, train, cruise ship, taxi, and long tail boat. After changing diapers in Thailand, Tunisia, Manhattan, Yosemite, Paris, Chichen Itza, Hawaii, and Pompeii, she has grown quite familiar with the technical details of traveling--and sightseeing--with babies, toddlers, and young children.

Shelly's travel guidebook, Travels with Baby: The Ultimate Guide for Planning Trips with Babies, Toddlers, and Preschool-Age Children, received a 2008 NAPPA Gold Award in Parenting Resources from the National Parenting Publications Awards and was a finalist for two ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards. Her family travel tips and advice have appeared in national parenting magazines, including Pregnancy, Parents, Parenting, and Nick Jr. Magazine, and on popular parenting websites and blogs including, Urban Baby Daily, and aParentlySpeaking.

Shelly travels as often and as far as she can with her husband and two young daughters. The rest of the time, she hangs her hats (as mother and writer) in the San Francisco Bay Area. She can be found online at

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