The Ultimate Guide to Baby Proofing Your Fireplace
When my daughter was first born, my mother insistently told me that I needed to baby proof my fireplace.
At the time, it was the last thing on my mind. My little girl could barely hold her head up, yet I was supposed to worry about baby proofing the fireplace?
But, the weeks and months flew by, and before I knew it, I had a toddler and a fireplace and accessories were not ready for her to go around.
In fact, I was surprised to learn that I not only had to make the fireplace safe around its rocky edges, but I also had to pay attention to carbon monoxide levels as well.
If you are ready to start baby proofing your fireplace, you can create a totally safe space with the help of a few key items.
Read on to learn what you can do, and which baby proofing products you should consider purchasing!
The Best and Easiest Solution: A Baby Gate
A baby gate is your best option when it comes to baby proofing a fireplace.
It actually creates distance between your baby and the hearth and heat.
You don’t have to worry about your baby touching the fire or glass, nor do you have to worry about them running and falling into the sharp ledges and pointy corners.
The gate serves as one giant shield.
What about a free standing fire place screen, you ask? Our advice is not to use these. These types of screens generally aren't built to sustain the weight and thrust of your baby pulling down or leaning into one.
So yeah, stick with a baby gate instead. Which are the best gates for fireplaces to consider? Here are our favorites.
North States Superyard Gate
My favorite gate is the North States Superyard Gate (click here to check the price on Amazon), for a number of reasons.
First, it is made of metal so it’s not only durable, but it’s heavy to push around, very much limiting your toddler from pushing it over or aside.
Next, it can be set up in a number of ways. It can be a play area when you make it into a hexagon shape. It can also be a barrier, which is how you’d use it for your fireplace.
It has six removable (and adjustable) panels for you to arrange as you please.
The North States gate will cover about 19 feet and is 30 inches high, and you can even secure it next to your fireplace using its hardware, for an unmovable screen.
There is also a locking, gate to utilize if you need to move easily through the area you set up, or to access the fireplace with ease.
I personally love this gate because it is easy to install, yet super sturdy. I have never worried about lighting a fire when it was up and my toddler was around.
It has great reviews online and is fairly priced, which is important to a lot of moms.
We have even used it to keep our pets away from the fire prior to my son.
All in all, it’s a high quality, safe gate!
Best Choice Safety Fence
The Best Choice Safety Fence (click here to check the price on Amazon) is also a wonderful, protective baby gate that a lot of moms trust.
What I really like about it is that it can be used solely for blocking off a fireplace or an outdoor grill.
Like the North States gate, there is a door with a handle for easy access to the fire. It can also mount to the wall if you use its special hardware.
It has received great reviews and users said that the hardware was easy to install and it kept the gate sturdily in place.
It is composed of heavy duty steel, so it can stand up to the strongest of toddlers and kids. Measuring at about 122 inches wide, it protect from most average sized fireplaces and grills.
It is also priced similarly to the North States gate, but it can’t be turned into a play yard.
The only criticisms that the Best Choice gate received is that depending on how hot your fire is, it can get slightly warm to the touch. Also, some users found it difficult to follow the instructions.
All in all, this is a pretty great option to install near your fireplace.
Why You Can't Forget About The Carbon Monoxide Threat
My father-in-law was the fire chief of his town for years, and he’s always pushed us to make sure our smoke detectors are working properly.
And, when he heard we were expecting a baby and knowing we had a fireplace, he immediately urged us to get a carbon monoxide detector.
Known as the silent killer, carbon monoxide is a gas that is produced when your fire is roaring in your home.
If something goes wrong with your fireplace ventilation, everyone could be in big trouble.
So, it’s wise to invest in a great detector.
Here is the one my father-in-law suggested and the one that we currently use.
Kidde Carbon Monoxide Alarm
The Kidde Carbon Monoxide Alarm (click here to check the price on Amazon) is the go-to carbon monoxide detector in our household.
This device is battery operated, so it is important that you stay on top of changing its batteries. It's very reasonably priced, so there really is no excuse not to have one in your home.
The detector reads digitally and it has a large back light to read in the dark. It will alert loudly if the gas is detected.
And, it has a special memory so you can read and store your readings since your last reset.
Simply place it near your fireplace or attach it to a wall if preferred (we stand ours on an end table in our living room).
You know it’s working because it will blink green about every thirty seconds.
And, if the carbon monoxide level is getting higher than it should, a red light will flash and eventually an alarm will go off.
You will have to replace this device about every seven years, and it comes with a five year warranty, which is a great deal!
Baby-Proofing the Hearth of Your Fireplace
Don’t plan on lighting any fires while you have a little one roaming around your home? I don’t blame you.
But, keep in mind that you still have that hearth you need to protect your little one from.
Since a lot of hearths are made up of stone or brick, all it takes one bad fall to end up in the ER getting stitches. So, it is important to invest in some padding.
Accidents happen regularly, but you can be prepared by covering up all the hard and dangerous edges and points.
Your baby’s eyes are also a huge concern, so the right padding in the right placement will protect them.
Enter: the hearth protector.
Here are some recommended pads that will keep your tot safe.
Roving Cove Padded Cushion
When it comes to padding the hearth of our fireplace, we always use this padded cushion from Roving Cove (click here to check the price on Amazon).
For protection of about 15 feet and four edges, expect to pay about a dollar per foot for this product (you may need two, depending on the size of your fireplace).
This cushioning is great because not only does it protect your little one, but it blends in fabulously with your home décor.
Many parents are hesitant about putting padding up, but you can barely notice it when it’s in place.
The products are foam, so they are soft but sturdy, and they are made with non-chemical and toxic ingredients.
They are very dense (which I learned is more important than thick), so it helps soften the impact if your toddler falls onto it.
They are easy to apply, simply peel and stick! Each piece is pre-taped, so assembly really is a snap.
I’ve used this product on my own hearth, and have never had any issues.
The padding stayed in place and protected my toddler when they fell near it (numerous times).
These bumpers from Bow-Tiger are another great and inexpensive option (click here to check the price on Amazon) for baby-proofing your fireplace, and are pretty similar to Roving Cove’s.
They are thick, long lasting, and come with eight corner cushions, making for a great fireplace child guard.
The Bow-Tiger bumpers can cover 17 feet and are also sticky thanks to its double sided tape design.
The product is also eco-friendly and child safe, so you won’t find any kind of toxic materials in them.
While it’s ideal for a hearth, both bumpers can also be used to protect your child from sharp corners and edges on tables, shelves, stairs, and cabinets.
They are light in color, so they will also blend in and complement a variety of décor in your home.
Bow-Tiger boasts a love it or it’s free policy, so if you aren’t satisfied, you get your money back right away.
They will also replace the bumpers or guards for free if there is a problem with them after installation.
The DIY Option
If you aren’t feeling like making any kind of purchase because you are on a strict budget, there are also ways you can baby proof your hearth on your own.
Lots of moms repurpose their interlocking ABC or number foam mats and line them up against and across the hearth. This not only looks baby friendly, but will fully cover every hard piece of hearth, not just the edges or corners.
In order for the mats to stay together (remember, they are designed like a giant puzzle), many moms tend to super glue each piece into place. This way, toddlers won’t be able to rip them apart.
You may also need to consider cutting some pieces in order to get that perfect fit. You can do this with a rule and exacto-knife (and a little time to concentrate when your kiddo is napping).
If you don’t want a rainbow color effect in your living room, there are a ton of foam, interlocking mats in various neutral colors that you can use to cover up your hearth.
Click here to check out my favorite foam-flooring option.
Fireplace Doors: Cause for Concern?
Another smart option you may also want to consider is baby-proofing your fire place door.
Toddlers are pretty sneaky (not to mention curious), and before you know it, they may end up wanting to open and close it (or even climb inside!)
Even though I had an awesome fireplace gate and I always kept a close eye on my toddler, I wasn’t planning on taking any chances.
So I spent another $20 or so and decided to also get a special door lock for an added safety measure.
Here is my favorite.
Safety Innovations Fireplace Door Lock
The Safety Innovations Fireplace Door Lock (click here to check the price on Amazon) is a neat little product.
Take note, it works if your fireplace door handle is between 6 inches and 9 inches apart (so break out the tape measurer to be sure).
It is mainly designed for horizontally aligned swinging or folding door handles that have a gap for the lock to work properly.
I was so worried that my son would get into the fireplace and either pinch his fingers as he fiddled with the doors, or even crack or break the glass.
This lock helped me feel more at ease. In fact, in order to even open the doors again, the lock has to be uninstalled.
The lock is made of metal, so it is very durable. It was also easy to install. I usually call upon my husband to build or install anything, but I was actually able to do this in less than five minutes with a Phillips Head screwdriver.
I’m so glad I made this purchase in addition to the fire gate, so I feel completely confident that my child’s safety is guaranteed around this dangerous area.
As a parent of a toddler, I feel that I’m often saying, “Better safe than sorry.”
These safety gates, carbon monoxide detector, and fireplace lock are a must when ensuring your child’s safety.
If you are in the market for products that you can trust, be sure to shop my recommendations to help you create a safe space in your home!