Like small pieces of food, tiny toys can also put your child at risk of choking. Opt for party favors that are large enough that they cannot be swallowed. Dr. Wood explains that any item that can fit through a toilet paper roll can potentially fit in your child's mouth and create airway problems.
Remember that gifts your child receives may be unsuitable for your child's age—such as a toy intended for preschoolers with small parts. Tuck these gifts away and save them for your child to enjoy once she's old enough.
Decorations and Wrappings
With all the party excitement, you may not realize that some common party items—such as gift-wrapping and balloons—can prevent breathing if inhaled or swallowed. Dr. Burke recalls vividly a case where he was called to remove a balloon from a child's throat. Unfortunately, the four-year-old died before ever reaching the hospital.
While you don't have to ban balloons from your festivities altogether, be careful where you place them. Tape balloons high above children's heads and don't let anyone play with them. Save balloon animals until children are older and won't place the balloons in their mouths.
Gather up wrapping paper, ribbons, and packaging as soon as your child is done opening gifts. Remember that you're not just trying to ensure your own child's safety, but also that of other children attending the party.
Take a childproofing tour of your house. This is a great time to check between couch cushions and under beds for hazardous items. "Small things like marbles, watch batteries, pen caps, or buttons can be a real choking problem," says Dr. Wood. Reinstall childproofing devices such as outlet covers and gates at stairs if necessary.
Before the party, determine where guests will put their coats and purses. Dr. Wood points out that many items that a child might stumble onto in a purse left on the floor can be dangerous, such as medications, keys, or pocket knives.
If you have a family pool, there must be at least one adult who will stay in the pool for the entire event and watch the children. If your pool is covered, lock outside doors or pool gates so that children will not find their way into your pool and drown.
Have Fun—Get Help!
Parties are supposed to be fun, not stressful. If you are aware of common party dangers you'll be better able to prevent an accident and enjoy your child's special day. Perhaps the best celebration advice comes from pediatrician Dr. Dan McGee, of the DeVos Children's Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan: "Don't do it all yourself. Find someone or hire a babysitter to help you manage the party, especially if you are expecting a lot of guests." Now, who's ready to party?