My daughter has always loved, loved, loved putting things into her mouth. Luckily, when she was a baby she did not have an inclination to swallow these things. From tales told by other moms, I know I’m lucky.
I do live with an eat anything monster, though. Our cat will eat anything that we leave around the house. With her, I’ve been in emergency for dehydration after she was unexpectedly sensitive to a fig leaf. Who knew?
Between the cat and the kid, I’ve had my share of putting things in the mouth scares. In that spirit, I wanted to discuss plants.
Yes, plants. Many of our house plants can actually be poisonous to children and to pets. If you have a baby who’s fond of gumming and swallowing everything that falls on a floor, a stray leaf from a house plant may actually be a hazard. My approach? Baby and cat proof the house, house plants included.
What plants can be toxic?
This is a list of some of the more common indoor plants that are dangerous to people. There are other plants outdoors that can be toxic as well. This is also not a complete list of everything that you could have in your home, so ask your local nursery to identify a plant if you have questions. These plants vary in toxicity. Some are very toxic, while others cause irritation.
Asparagus fern, bird of paradise, cyclamen, umbrella plant and philodendrons can be irritating to toxic. Oleander is extremely dangerous. The pothos plant is simply irritating, but it is also a very common house plant – its heart-shaped leaves have certainly graced my walls! While aloe vera is great for skin, it is bad to eat. Christmas favorites can also be dangerous – avoid the leaves of poinsettia, holly, mistletoe, and many kinds of ivy, including English Ivy.
What plants are safe for babies and pets? Some of my favourites include the African violet, a soft and beautiful plant. Boston ferns, corn plants, palms, and figs are excellent larger display plants. Norfolk pines make a soft, living Christmas decoration, as do Christmas cacti. All of these are safe for children and pets.
My first approach after the “cat and house plant incident” was to remove any plants on the toxic list. I have also tried to kid and cat proof our house plants. Here’s what we do:
Place plants up high. We have wall hangers for our plants so that we can see them hanging from the walls, but they can’t be pulled down by children or pets. Some of our house plants also hang from the ceiling. Watch for leaves that fall during plant care.
Choose plants that don’t look edible. Stay away from yummy-looking berries and flowers.
Only buy plants that are baby safe and have the species clearly identified.
Collect soft plants. While a Christmas cactus is pretty safe, our giant collection of pointy cacti (yes, we had several) went to my husband’s office.
Care for plants with your child. Since my daughter was a baby, we’ve talked about things that are safe to eat and things that are unsafe. As you do household chores, talk with your baby about what you are doing. He might seem to be too young to understand, but it’s a good habit to begin – and more sinks in than you’d imagine!
House plants can be a wonderful way to add green to a space, and they are also a good way to purify indoor air – ulike artificial plants, which add new chemicals to the air in your home. Just check before you add a plant to your home to make sure it is safe for baby too!