Winter holidays

At the start of get-togethers, talk about who is going to watch the children. Take turns, so everyone gets time to relax. Otherwise family and friends may assume that someone else is watching the young ones when no one really is. This is important whether you are a host or a guest.

Toy Safety

Using unsafe toys - or using safe toys in unsafe ways - can put a child at risk for illness or injury. Canadians are advised to use the following safety tips to guide their toy purchases:

  • Purchase age appropriate toys, as toys for older children may contain small parts or other hazards that may make them unsafe for young children;
  • Read and follow the age labels, warnings, safety messages and assembly instructions that come with a toy;
  • Look for sturdy, well-made toys;
  • Look for toys that come with contact information for the manufacturer or importer;


  • Remember to check the Government of Canada's Recalls and Safety Alerts Database to see if a toy has been recalled. 
  • Once the toys are at home, parents and caregivers should continue to be vigilant. For example, toys should be checked often for hazards like loose parts, broken pieces or sharp edges and any weak or damaged toys should be repaired or discarded. All toy packaging, such as plastic wrap, foam, staples, ties and temporary plastic films should be removed and thrown away. For more information, please read Health Canada's guide to toy safety Is Your Child Safe? - Playtime. 

Christmas trees and plants

  • Toddlers are curious and active. It’s natural for them to want to explore the tree and the decorations by touching, grabbing and trying to put ornaments in their mouth. 
  • It is unfair and unrealistic to expect toddlers to resist the temptation of a decorated tree within their reach. Make home life easier on everyone and place the tree away from the main living area.
  • The safest option is to have the tree out of reach. Families can consider a small tabletop tree that is beyond a child’s grasp and doesn’t have a hanging tablecloth underneath that can be pulled. Another option is to put the tree in a room with a safety gate so the child can see, but not touch the tree.
  • Compromising on holiday décor for a couple of years will ensure a more relaxing holiday.
  • Even with preschool children, it’s advisable to have soft, unbreakable decorations, such as those made of felt.
  • Keep holiday plants out of reach as well. Mistletoe and holly are poisonous and can cause stomach upset.Centrepiece with candle


  • Firefighters dislike candles and with good reason.  An open flame is always a potential fire hazard, whether you have young children or not. Consider not using candles, as they are one of the most common causes of household fires. 
  • If you do use candles, keep them well beyond the reach of children, and blow them out before leaving the room. 
  • Place candles in very sturdy holders that aren’t likely to tip, and place them away from any flammable materials, such as curtains or tablecloths.

Holiday lights

Decoration lights

  • Children can suffer electrical burns from touching hot lights, putting them in their mouths, or chewing on electrical cords. Holiday lights and electrical cords should be in good repair and out of children’s reach.
  • Use Christmas lights that do not get hot when used.

Choking hazards from nuts and candy

  • An estimated 44 children age 14 and under die every year in Canada from choking, suffocation and strangulation and many more are hospitalized for serious injuries. Almost half of the children who are hospitalized have choked on food.
  • Hard candies, nuts, popcorn, hot dogs and raw carrots are a choking hazard for children under three years of age. Keep these food items out of reach, and don’t put out bowls of nuts and candies where children can access them.
  • It’s a good idea to have children sit down while eating. Walking or running while eating is more likely to cause choking.

Entertaining with young children

  • Hearth Gate / FireplaceKeep purses and bags out of toddlers’ reach. They may hold dangerous items, such as medicines, or a lighter.
  • Gas fireplaces can easily burn little hands when the glass barrier is touched. The glass can heat up to over 200C (400F) in about six minutes and it takes an average of 45 minutes for the fireplace to cool down to a safe temperature after the fire has been extinguished. Install safety gates to keep your child at a safe distance. Consider not using the fireplace if you have young children, or only using it when the children have gone to sleep for the evening. Turn off the unit completely, including the pilot flame, whenever it is not in use.
  • Buy presents that are age appropriate for the children on your list. Particularly for children under three years of age, choose toys without any small parts, or magnets. Children can be seriously injured by swallowing loose magnets. Make sure that battery-operated toys are in good-condition and that the batteries are not accessible. If swallowed, button-type batteries can cause internal chemical burns or poisoning.
  • See also our information on winter safety.