Why you shouldn’t wrap your kid in Christmas lights for photos

posted in: Parenting | 11

Don't wrap your kid in Christmas lights for photos ...why? lead exposure!Around this time of year, it’s inevitable that I see photos of kids happily decked out in Christmas lights.  Hey, I know I helped trim the tree when I was young!  But there’s a difference between helping put the lights on the tree and deliberately wrapping a kid in Christmas lights.  And either way, there may be a hidden danger that has flown under your radar.

Lead exposure.  

Most Christmas lights come bearing California’s Prop 65 warning, which alerts consumers that the products may be carcinogenic and cause birth defects (lead is used in the plastic coating that insulates the wires of Christmas lights).  Jeanne Roberts of Greenhome.com writes:

 Lighting manufacturers readily admit there is lead in the PVC (polyvinyl chloride) used to insulate holiday lights from contact with water, or to prevent exposed wires which could cause a fire or electrocution … Over time, in the presence of sunlight and heat, the PVC portion of blinds, toys and light strings deteriorates, releasing lead as a form of “dust” indistinguishable from ordinary household dust. [Read more]

In a 2010 USA today article about avoiding a toxic Christmas, three sources of concern are Christmas lights, artificial trees, and candles. The article also discusses ways to minimize exposure.  But as was noted by pediatrician Philip Landrigan (Mount Sinai School of Medicine, NY):

…lead-based paint in windows is a far greater source of lead poisoning than individiual [sic] consumer products, especially ones such as Christmas decorations, which are used for only a few weeks a year.

When used normally, your child will likely have minimal exposure to lead.  After all, the Christmas lights are meant to be wrapped around the tree, not to be used as a toy.  Christmas lights aren’t something that your child should be touching for any extended length of time, and certainly not something to be played with or wrapped around a child’s body.

So it shouldn’t really be a problem.  That is, unless you are considering taking it upon yourself to duplicate those “adorable” kid wrapped in Christmas light photos.

And, lead exposure aside, why mess with electricity?  We spend so much time teaching our kids not to play with outlets, how it’s unsafe, yada yada yada… but in the pursuit of “the perfect Christmas picture” we fling common sense to the wind?  Yes, unfortunately, sometimes life does work that way.

Just like taking portraits on train tracks is a bad idea… it’s a bad idea to risk lead exposure for the sake of a cute photo.

But please ….please… now that you know, please don’t go wrapping your kids in Christmas lights any more.

Some further articles on the topic.

11 Responses

  1. shelah@mosswoodconnections.com

    Thanks for the warning. Our kids don’t need any more exposure to toxins.

  2. Julie S.

    I always thought those photos looked a bit dangerous for one reason or another.

  3. Betsy Finn

    Agreed! And while I was aware Christmas lights weren’t “safe” to play with, I didn’t really know they had lead in them until somewhat recently.

  4. Betsy Finn

    Yes, I suppose there are a myriad of reasons, huh?

  5. Rachel

    Interesting to know. My Christmas lights are attached to the tree. For outside like, I stick to UL listed and LED lights.

  6. Betsy Finn

    How do the LED lights compare? I’ve been eyeing them but it seems wasteful since we already have a storage bin full of the standard ones…

  7. Tanya @ Mom's Small Victories

    Wow, I had no idea about the lead toxicity of Christmas lights. Thanks for the warning and sharing with #SmallVictoriesSundayLinkup. The new linkup goes live at 10pm EST tonight!

  8. Betsy Finn

    Yeah, me neither. Thanks for the reminder about the linkup!

  9. Viktor Dite

    Some lights are still not using low voltage, so there is a second reason to warn for! Children do really fast crap the light and then, there may be high voltage! VERY dangerous!

  10. […] … Lighting manufacturers readily admit there is lead in the PVC (polyvinyl chloride) used to insulate holiday lights from contact with water, or to prevent exposed wires which could cause a fire or electrocution … Bphotoart […]

  11. […] if your little one arrives this season, please don’t wrap him or her in holiday lights for your holiday […]