38 answers

Babyproof Christmas Tree

Hi Moms- I have an 18 month old curious boy. I plan to put up my Christmas Tree this weekend but am hesitate to do the same old tree. We have an artifical one with lights already connected to it. I am worried about the glass bulbs and ornaments. I know many people either forget a tree with kids this age or decorate only up high. I would prefer to do neither. I am looking for fun, cute ideas on how to decorate this year so that if my son does get to the tree he won't hurt himself or ruin my exspensive ornaments, any ideas? I thought of paper snowflakes of course but hesitate on the popcorn strands... help!! What are you doing to babyproof your tree? Also do I wait to put out presents on Christmas Eve to avoid him opening them?

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So What Happened?™

Thank you so much for all of your wonderful responses. So.. my tree is up and decorated. I choose to make homeade ornaments using Sammie's recipe but tweaked a bit (closer to the family fun recipe with less cinnimon). It wasn't difficult just time consuming as far as the wait time for them to harden. My husband even got into making them so that was fun. I also cut oranges and lemons thinly sliced and baked them at 200 degrees for about 6 hours. It made my house smell incredible and they look very pretty on my tree. I didn't want to have to put up a gate around my tree so I haven't. My son was curious when the tree was first up and put his finger through one of the oranges but has since left it alone. I also choose to leave my breakables up high or packed away and instead got out my collection of christmas precious moments stuffed dolls. They look so cute surrounding the tree and can't be damaged if Alex plays with them. As for presents we may attempt having one out to see if he will leave it alone otherwise we will just wait until Christmas Eve. Again thanks for everyone's amazing ideas. I love this site!

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I bought plastic ornaments for my youngest's first Christmas. I did have presents under the tree, but just kept repeating that they were not to be touched. I have the feeling that I will be saying the same thing this year to my youngest, and she's 3!

Craft stores like micheals and even walmart sell the foam ornaments in a set. He can help you decorate the foam ornaments the hang them on the tree.
When my daughter was that young we had glass ornaments. I gave them to my sister and her husband because they didn,t have any.
Now I have non-breakables and we have special ornaments. I buy an ornament eeach year for each of my kids. Something that their intrested in like a Hannah Montana ornament for my daughter and my son cars. Each year is diffrent. When they grow up the will have thier ornaments. It is fun my daughter is five and it is interesting to see the ornaments from her.


When my son was a toddler, we used a tabletop tree on top of a table, and any presents we put out we put on the table. Because he was not able to reach any of the goodies, we didn't have any problems. Anything that he can get to will be a constant issue, so design it so that it is out of his reach.

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Hi S.!
Lots of great ideas on here already! Mine isn't new, just wanted to share that some ideas listed below worked for me. My son was 12 months last Christmas and of course totally fascinated with the tree. I put ornaments that were stuffed or non-breakable without any small parts (and no hooks to hang them) on the bottom few rows. It was a good teaching opportunity about not touching, but then I also allowed him (only with mommy) to take one off at a time and look at it, then hang it back on the tree. Good for teaching that everything has it's place and the hanging it back up helps with fine motor skills. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and Christmas!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi S....

When my daughter was young, we went with a bit smaller tree, and to keep her away from it and getting hurt, we set the tree up inside her playpen! Worked great, also kept the presents out of reach too! Food for thought! Good luck!

What I did with my sons was to put up the tree like normal and to put all the breakable ornaments up high. I put the others down low. My ornament collection is very eclectic, so I have some soft ones or ones that are painted wood. I also have a series of pewter ornaments that they could touch and if they pulled them down it was fine. They never really bothered the lights. The first Christmas I put the lights on the tree and then waited a few days before putting the ornaments on. My first son was relly interested in the lights and I let him touch with one finger - he was almost 1yo. When I put the ornaments on I just had to watch him more closely around the tree for the first few days and then he was fine. He'd crawl under the tree and lay on his back and look up at the lights - you should try that, it's a neat perspective.

Regarding the gifts I would wait until Christmas Eve to put them out. Those are hard to resist, especially since he's old enough to realize what's in them. GL

I have a little boy the same age. Luckily i have no glass ornaments so that is not an issue. i have a simple recipe to make ornaments you roll them out and cut them with cookie cutters and its all stuff you can eat so they won;t hurt kids or pets. Okay.....
2-3 cups of cinnamon
1 cup applesauce
1/2 cup or so of elmers glue
just mix til consistency is of cookie dough then roll and cut put on cookie sheets and poke a hole in the top to put a string through and let dry for 24 hours they are simple and cheap and cute good luck

Our son was curious also, but we love Christmas time.

What we did the first time was put up an artifical tree (ours doesn't have the lights already attached) and attached it to the walls with string about 2/3 of the way up (we have cats so have to do this no matter what kind of tree it is). Instead of the glass ornaments we purchased some wooden ones (Wal-mart or Target for $1 each), different color candy canes, and some large metal jingle bells. We put the bells on the bottom branches so we knew if a kid or cat was messing with the tree or presents, then scattered the rest of the ornaments and canes throughout the tree. The really fun part is, now that our son is 4, he is able to help us decorate the tree with these same ornaments and canes and we don't have to worry about him dropping one and breaking it.

We put out gifts when they were purchased and wrapped (except for some special ones). The bells warn us and it's good to start teaching him early that the presents don't get touched until Christmas. Him seeing them ahead of time will make Christmas morning that much more exciting for him.

Do the best you can but don't get to freaked out about what might happen. He will feel it if you do and will not enjoy the holiday as much.

PS - as for lead in the artifical trees, we always had artifical trees when I was growing up (I'm alergic to pine trees) and my brothers and I turned out okay. :-)


When my son was a toddler, we used a tabletop tree on top of a table, and any presents we put out we put on the table. Because he was not able to reach any of the goodies, we didn't have any problems. Anything that he can get to will be a constant issue, so design it so that it is out of his reach.

I've seen people put the tree in the pack-in-play you can also put presents in it that way and everything is out of reach. It's not the cutest thing but you can still have your tree and your favorite decorations, without having to worry about it getting tipped over

I have a 16 month old... I'm planning on making the old style (think 70s) felt ornaments in shapes of stars, snowflakes, Christmas trees, gingerbreab men... those will be safe for her to play with and we'll still get to enjoy our tree. And I would DEFINANTLY wait on putting out presents until Christmas eve... but I have considered getting a few little decorated gift boxes to put under the tree for her to play with and put things in if she wants. I've seen them at the $ store. Good luck!

We had a tree last year when our son was that age. We were just very vigilant about reminding him not to touch. Of course, we didn't put anything in reach we weren't willing to part with. Same with the presents. After the first few reminders he did just fine leaving the tree and the presents alone. I see no reason it should have to be completely childproof. After all, he's going to be around a lot of trees this season, and I'd be willing to bet yours would probably be the only one childproofed. I just use it as a learning opportunity, and then I can relax and have fun at friends' houses during the holidays rather than having to fight a kid who thinks he has free reign on the tree. Anyway, that's how we did it. Like I said, not all the ornaments were out, so we didn't lose anything too precious. I actually don't remember anything breaking at all.

Well Julia has always been a great listener, so I'm probably not tons of help =o) With Julia we let her decorate the bottom however she wanted. i had a big stack of stuffed ornaments and wood ornaments. We did let her use the hanging hooks because it was easier than her trying to use a string. I also had some well-made beaded ones that I new would take a lot of force to break apart. I rarely caught her with something in her mouth but if I did I knew it wouldn't hurt her. She was facinated with taking the ornaments off and putting them back on, and I let her do this as she pleased and it kept her away from the other stuff =o) She never seemed to bother the lights except to touch and point saying "oooo" and I do strands of beads that looks like cranberries. They go on first so there's no way she could have got them off if she tried.

Last year, however, her favorite activity was throwing my baby Jesus from my willow tree nativity set across the room.

Craft stores like micheals and even walmart sell the foam ornaments in a set. He can help you decorate the foam ornaments the hang them on the tree.
When my daughter was that young we had glass ornaments. I gave them to my sister and her husband because they didn,t have any.
Now I have non-breakables and we have special ornaments. I buy an ornament eeach year for each of my kids. Something that their intrested in like a Hannah Montana ornament for my daughter and my son cars. Each year is diffrent. When they grow up the will have thier ornaments. It is fun my daughter is five and it is interesting to see the ornaments from her.

Last year when my son was that age, my daughter and I made all the ornaments ourselves. We made felt cut-outs shaped like reindeer and santas, and applesauce ornaments (if you need the recipe, write me), and playdough ornaments, and so we weren't completely crushed when my son broke some of the stuff (which he did). The tree looked really cute, actually. I think we are doing the same thing this year, because my son is still at a destructive stage. Have fun with your decorations!

We put our good ornaments away for a couple of years and bought a big box of plastic ones from Kmart or Target. They are not too expensive and are much cuter than in the past. If you want to spend less or be more crafty I might make snowflakes or trees or snowmen out of felt. I don't know if you can find flat wooden ornaments somewhere - my mom has some from overseas. Also, you could cut pretty parts out of old x-mas cards to hang. My baby might scrunch them but he wouldn't get hurt. Also, maybe look for a wooden, plastic or fabric nativity set that he can play with which makes the tree a little less interesting.

As for presents, I wrapped them but just put them up high on top of our piano.

gingerbread cookies, tenis balls with a tring poked through it, and construction paper decorations: santa, snowmen, candy canes, etc. and i would definitely wait until christmas eve to put out presents

I refused to not have a beautiful tree when my kids were younger but I was worried about the glass ornaments and the hooks and lights. We ended up getting large silk flowers from Michaels, we used gold poinsettas, my sister has used red and white roses, and beads and the thick, wide ribbon and decorated with that as well as those twisty stick things (i don't know what they are called but they are used in flower arrangements). My kids are now getting older and we still use these. I get tons of compliments every year and my kids can't hurt themselves, and I don't worry about losing decorations to the garbage can.
As far as presents go, my kids are sneaky and putting the under the tree before Christmas is just an invitation for the kids to open them, so we always wait.

Let me just start by saying he is going to be so much fun to watch this year. We had so much fun with our little one at this age around Christmas. What I found helps, is don't make a big deal of it (the tree and presents). Let him be around the ornaments and even touch some of them, while you are putting the tree up. With the presents, I put a few out at a time and it sort of just seemed to him that stuff belonged there and he was not as interested or curious as I feared! Good luck and cherish this holiday, it is over before you realize!

Do your tree. Enjoy. Put the tree in a corner of a room...tie the top to the wall if you really think he can't listen to your directions. Place some favorites up top and then either buy or sort out ones you don't care so much about or ones that are fabric and wood. Store your glass balls until your kids are in college, or donate them and start colecting new ones. I had my kids help me with the tre when the first was 18 months. she loved it. Now they are 3 and 4 and love decorating and respect that once the ornamants are on there,they stay there to enjoy...

Yes, some got broken this year, but I didn't care about those. Also, i have put a picture one for each year and they love those of themselves. Feltornaments are great fun to make and Micheal's has wood ones they color on with markers.

When I had kids I gave away all of my glass ornaments and just used cloth or plastic and I tried to hang chocking hazzards out of reach. I also started a new tradition with my kids of making our own ornaments every year, our tree is certainly not fancy or magazine worthy, but we love it and we love to point out all the ornamemts that we have made over the years. Another idea that I have heard and thought was great (but I never tried) is to make a tree out of edible things only, you hang strings of popcorn and cranberries (both choking hazzards so be careful with that one) and hang cookies and slices of dried fruit, star fruit was the prettiest. The mom who did it had young childrne who put everything in their mouths so she wanted it to be fairly safe for them to do so. It was a pretty tree, it was a real tree and after Christmas they put it outside for the animals to eat everything off of it. No matter how safe your tree seems, never leave your baby alone in the room wiht it, it could fall on him or he could manage to hurt himself with ornaments that seemed really safe, unfortunatly babies are experts at hurting themselves in creative new ways!

S., I have a VERY active son the same age. I kept shaking my head saying "No tree this year" but I love to decorate. I did decide to put up the tree but I came up with the idea to use a mounting bracket. I lightly decorated the tree from about midway up, mostly the sides and front and one strand of lights, then I pushed the tree as close to the wall as I could without it tilting. I mounted it from about the middle closer to the bottom since it’s heavier there. I did this while my son was at nap. I also put up some artificial swag’s over the windows. They have lights on them and swing down half way, evenly on both sides. They do sell battery operated lights at Hobby Lobby, I bought them last year. I couldn't decorate my tables like I usually do because my son is a climber. When my son woke up and saw that tree, he went up to it and touched the branches; I don't really think he liked the prickly feel to it. I did have to adjust some ornaments that were to low. I talked to him about it, picked him up and let him look at the blinking lights and he was really excited. It has been up for about 3 days and it really doesn't seem to faze him now. I feel better knowing the tree can’t fall and hurt him and the lights are pushed closer inside so he can’t touch them. Trust me, we still keep a close watch on him just like with everything else he does, but for the most part he just points and says "Wow" "Wow" Woooow" LOL I hope this helps. Happy Holidays

This year is the first year that I will be able to display my tree the right way. Prior years with small kids i had a six foot tree and we put it on a end table and bungie corded it to the table so the kids couldn't knock it over. Of course with the tree skirt no one could see the bungie cords and i knew that my decorations for the tree were safe from getting broken.

I've seen people hang a tree upside down. They have dogs that are also curious.

When our sons were that age, we set up the tree inside the playpen. We didn't have to worry about them being able to pull over the tree on themselves, it kept them from getting in the packages. We also put the glass balls up high and put wooden and silk ones down lower. It seemed to work well, they could look, they could just barely reach up and touch a branch to feel it but that was about it. The cat got in more trouble for swatting off the silk balls and chasing them across the floor than the kids did : )

If you use enough tape, he won't be able to open the presents. Or you could wrap some empty boxes just for decoration.

As long as you're OK with him taking off the ornaments as high as he can reach, you'll be fine. Just encourage him to put them back on the tree. (this is easier if you let him help decorate it in the first place.)

when my kids were little, I had stuffed ornaments that way they could take them off and redecorate or leave it and no one cared because you have so much other stuff to do. Teach your son about Christmas because prefect Christmas is a non exesistent thing. YOu are together as a family and that is important. Teach the true meaning of Christmas and celebate the joy and watch the wonder in his eyes as he see it in all the beauty for the first time that is the true delight. Not in how prefect the tree is.
C. b

I bought plastic ornaments for my youngest's first Christmas. I did have presents under the tree, but just kept repeating that they were not to be touched. I have the feeling that I will be saying the same thing this year to my youngest, and she's 3!

hey I also have a son the same age and I didnt want to do any of that other stuff either so he had purchased one of those play yard things that can fold up and you can put it in any shape you want so we just put it around the christmas tree so we could still decorate it how we wanted with out worrying about him gettting into the presents or the tree water or breaking any ornaments or knocking it over it worked great

Not to freak you out.....But I found out while living in California (the only state with lead warnings on everything), that fake christmas trees and especially christmas lights are notorious for lead.

So if I were you I would buy a real little baby tree put it on the kitchen island so he can see it in his high chair etc.....And then plant it in your yard after christmas.....In California there are warnings for pregnant women to not even handle the lights and trees, and to keep them out of reach of children....And for everyone who touches them to wash their hands. I don't know if the new trees (post 2007) are lead free, but I couldn't find any last year.


We bought some new ornaments this year from Home Depot. It was $25 for 100 ornaments. They are a really hard plastic and break proof. My husband pulled one out and tried to crush it with his hand and it barely dented. They're pretty nice looking and I figure eventually we'll have two trees when our kids are older - one for me, one for them. We'll just use these ornaments for the kid tree in the playroom eventually. For now, it'll be nice to have a fully decorated tree. I am leaving my expensive ornaments in the box until the kids are old enough to know better than to play with them.

Over the years with having kids (and doing daycare) I have put a small tree on the dinning room table, put the tree in the living room where the coffee table was and gated off the area (gate was placed from sofa to love seat)as well as put a "super" yard fence in front of the tree. I have also put the tree in the corner (easy to know who is going near the tree.
I have had the kids help decorate with small wooden ornaments and small stuffed animals on the tree. I have the cutest photo of our son decorating the tree with toilet paper.

With presents- all the one were received from family were mailed so I just put the boxes under the tree and on Christmas morning I opened them and put the wrapped gifts out.

Growing up we had home-made felt ornaments, stuffed ornaments, paper, plastic lids ornaments, candy canes and other non-breakable ones that us kids put on the tree.
You could even use large pom-poms and place them through out the tree -white snowballs. Be creative and have fun!

I wouldn't put anything that is food, like popcorn strand. When our first was a year old, then two, we put the ornaments that were breakable or special up on the top half of the tree. On the bottom half, we put stuffed ornaments, jingle bells and other unbreakables. Yes, we had to round up the bells from all around the house every single night, but the tree looked good and my little one got to share the joy of Christmas. If you put ornaments on the bottom, consider whether they have breakable or removable parts that might become a choking hazard.

Best of luck, and merry Christmas,

We had those same concerns. We wanted to decorate, but didn't want her to get curious and pull the tree over, or end up with broken glass everywhere that she could hurt herself on. I had a rather large collection of the "teenie" beanie babies because when I would go buy them for my step-mother (she had trouble finding them where she lived and was a HUGE collector), I would get extras because we thought they would be cute in a babies room as decoration. Didn't end up using them in the babies room, but DID use them on the Christmas tree! For her first two Christmases, the whole tree was decorated in the teenie beanies. Most all of them had loops on the tops like ornaments do anyway, so it worked. The ones she was able to reach, I didn't care if she took them off and played with them (strangely enough, though, she really didn't mess with them all that much) and if somehow she would have pulled the tree down I didn't have to worry about any broken glass. Instead of popcorn strands you could try cranberries or even just paper rings made out of leftover wrapping paper or something. I have also heard of people putting a baby gate around the tree so kiddo's can't even get that close to it if you are not around. Hope you get a suggestion that works for you and happy holidays!

We put a superyard baby gate around our tree. It's a perfect size for all the presents and even a christmas train that goes around the tree, but not too bulky (we don't have lots of space in our living room) and it looks great. It has been a life saver in keeping our nice ornaments safe(I love putting up the first baby ornaments)and keeps the presents wrapped. I bought mine at walmart for $50, and it is well worth the money.
Here's the one I have.


we put the tree in the playpen when they were about that age

We bough a small (24" tall) tree and put it up on a table when our kids were that age. Make sure it fits well and that the table and tree are sturdy - it doesn't rock if bumped. Then you can decorate out of his reach and have plenty of room for presents too!! Just make sure to watch him in the room, so that he doesn't start climbing up to it!

My friend put one of those stand alone baby gates around her Xmas tree and then decorated it with garland and non dangerous/breakable decorations. It actually looked pretty neat and it kept the kiddos out of the tree and presents.

When my kids were younger and curious, I made them put their hands to their sides when at the tree, Look but do not touch rule. It isn't easy but it can be done! :)

I put nicer ornaments out of reach up higher and other easy things that were not fragile lower. It was sparser by far then it is now, but I wanted them to learn young to be careful just as you are with other things that are fragile around. Have him cut out (with your help) some paper and color a few ornaments himself, there are great fun kid kits at Micheals or Hobby Lobby too and it will help him have a sense of pride on the stuff on the tree. We do that every year too.

I can say just constant reminders they were not to touch it but they could look at it helped them never to have an issue of it. Do not leave him alone with the tree, ever. If he puts his hand out, firmly but calmly say "NO TOUCH"...if he ignores you move him away from the tree. I never had to do anything different and believe me my son was one to get into stuff, I just made it very clear that the tree was for looking not touching! Or say "ouch, hot" for the lights. Most lights on trees are durable and wouldn't break easily.

Also there are those enclosures, they are like the baby gates you can put around it so they are not up close but can see it. So if you have it near a corner, you could use a few to block getting close to the tree when he is up and running around. You can get those at Babies R Us. Next year he will be so excited to help you decorate that hopefully he will be past the destructive stage.

I didn't put out presents until Christmas Eve, smart move, hee hee, those are way too tempting! :)

I have done this for the past 4 years! I refuse to skip a Christmas tree. The kids absolutely love them!
Last year, the house we were in had a way to lock the baby out of the living room with a baby gate. But I realize that's not usually an option. In the house before that, we hardly ever went into the living room because all the toys were in the family room. It really wasn't too big of a problem. Except we had a tree in the family room, too!
I hung all the breakable (and especially the irreplaceable) ornaments high, and then the less destructible ones lower. We have metal bells, stuffed, and plastic ornaments down low. My sister turns her nose up at the plastic bulbs, but I love them for the bottom of the tree and high-traffic areas (I put them in my garlands, too). You can find them at the dollar store. They make some ugly ones, but you can find beautiful ones, too.
Really the best thing was to talk to my boys. Tell them that the Christmas tree is so very special (and they're in such awe that they believe it wholeheartedly) and that the pretty ornaments will break if they touch them, and that will ruin the tree. My boys have really respected that. They don't want to hurt such a beautiful, magical thing.

I just remembered that my sister had a set of gate-type toys made by Little Tikes. She used to take her kids out in the yard and corral them in the modular baby "walls." At Christmas time, she set them up in front of the tree. The kids broke through her fortifications a few times, but it took a lot longer for them to get into trouble. Or maybe you could rearrange furniture to block the room off, or just the tree for the month?

I've seen friends decorate with little hangable kid toys. Then they can touch it to their heart's content, and will anyway, so its good to be prepared. Definitely don't hang any glass bulbs down low at all- my toddler was able to get ahold of one one year, and broke it and we had to call ask-a-nurse because I thought he's swallowed some broken glass. :( He didn't- we finally found the missing piece, but scary.

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