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December 7, 2021

Keep Holiday Safety in Mind for Children

ThedaCare Pediatrician Discusses Recommendations for a Safe and Happy Holiday Season

The most wonderful time of the year is upon us and before parents go and purchase new toys on their children’s holiday lists, it’s important to take a few extra steps of caution to prevent choking or injuries. 

When purchasing a new toy, it’s first and foremost important to double-check to make sure the toy is appropriate for the age of your child. Some toys can come with small attachments that can be a choking hazard for children. 

“Almost all toys have an age recommendation on the front or the back of the packaging,” said Dr. Sneha Subbarayan, a Pediatrician at ThedaCare Physicians Pediatrics-Neenah. “It can be easy to sometimes overlook those age recommendations, but for example, an infant should not play with a toy that has tiny pieces because they could easily put them in their mouth and cause harm or worse.” 

Parents should always read the labels and directions when putting together a toy, and ensure the batteries cannot be easily removed. Button batteries also pose a choking risk to young children. If a child has ingested a button battery, call 911. A helpful tip for parents is to remember if the object is small enough to fit through a toilet paper tube, it can obstruct the airway of a child. It’s also important to consider your child’s temperament, habits and behavior whenever they receive a new toy. 

“Some children may get easily frustrated with certain types of toys or activities,” explained Dr. Subbarayan. “If you think that might be a possibility for your child, offer other toys, or provide ways for them to engage in different types of healthy play.”  

Dr. Sneha Subbarayan

Toys with smaller, removable parts should only be purchased for children aged three years and older. Toys that have loose strings, straps, or cords longer than seven inches should also be avoided for younger children.  

“If you notice that a child is at risk while playing with a certain toy, remove it from them until they are older and can play safely,” explained Dr. Subbarayan. “It might be difficult in the moment when the child really wants the toy, but their safety is most important.”  

Dr. Subbarayan also points out that if Santa brings your child a bike, scooter, skateboard, or roller skates, don’t forget a helmet and other protective gear. 

Decorate Safely  

There are several ways to deck the halls of your home to celebrate the joy of the season. Families should remember there are some decorations that should be hung with extra care, keeping little ones in mind.  

“Children love to get involved and as parents, we love seeing them engage in these fun family traditions,” said Dr. Subbarayan. “It’s important to only let kids decorate within their reach with non-breakable items.”  

Dr. Subbarayan recommends keeping these additional safety tips in mind when it comes to decorating and preparing for the holidays with kids: 

  • If you have a real tree, make sure the tree stand is always filled with water so it does not dry out and create an increased risk of fire hazards.  
  • If you buy an artificial tree, be sure it’s labeled “fire-retardant.” 
  • Make sure the tree stand is flat on the ground, and possibly anchored to a wall. The tree should be decorated to distribute the weight evenly. 
  • Keep breakable or hazardous decorations out of reach of children and secured to the wall. 
  • Do not leave children alone in a room with lighted candles, matches, lighters, fireplaces, or any other sources of flame or heat. 
  • Use power strips with built-in circuit breakers and avoid putting too many plugs into one electrical outlet. 
  • Keep kids away from the oven while you bake or cook.  
  • Keep alcohol out of reach of children and be sure to clean leftover drinks right away. 

Some holiday decorations can also be poisonous for children and pets. Watch for plants like mistletoe, holly, poinsettias and amaryllis which are all toxic if eaten. Keep them out of reach of young children. Caregivers can also check for more information, or call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222.  

“The holidays are a great time to be with friends and family,” Dr. Subbarayan said. “If we keep a close eye on our little ones, it will help us all enjoy the season.” 

About ThedaCare 

For more than 110 years, ThedaCare® has been committed to improving the health of the communities it serves in northeast and central Wisconsin. The organization delivers care to more than 600,000 residents in 17 counties and employs approximately 7,000 health care professionals. ThedaCare has 180 points of care, including seven hospitals. As an organization committed to being a leader in Population Health, team members are dedicated to empowering people to live their best lives through easy access to individualized care, supporting each person’s own health and wellbeing. ThedaCare also partners with communities to understand unique needs, finding solutions together, and encouraging health awareness and action. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care 

Network Member, giving specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a not-for-profit health system with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs, as well as primary care. 

For more information, visit or follow ThedaCare on social media. Members of the media should call Cassandra Wallace, Public and Media Relations Consultant at 920.442.0328 or the ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah switchboard at 920.729.3100 and ask for the marketing person on call.