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Babyproofing a fireplace is a multi-step process. First, use a baby safety fence as a childproof fireplace screen to put space between your baby and the fireplace, protecting her against burns. If you have a stepped hearth, cover sharp edges. You’ll also need to lock fireplace doors and ensure fireplace tools are out of reach. Finally, monitor for carbon monoxide emissions.


Introduction

In the US, more than 50% of all new homes have at least one fireplace. If you live in one of the many US households that has a fireplace in the living room or wood stove in the kitchen, there will come a day when you need to babyproof it.

Fireplaces aren’t exactly a sneaky danger for kids. They’re like stairs and bathrooms – obviously dangerous, presenting hazards in the form of heat and open flames, sharp edges and hard surfaces, pokey tools, and carbon monoxide.

And just as you put a baby gate at the top of the stairs and child proof the bathroom, you also need to babyproof your fireplace.

Child proofing a fireplace is something that need’s to be taken seriously – ideally before your baby starts crawling. And while it’s a bit like going to the dentist – slightly painful, and not exactly enjoyable – once you do it, you’ll feel much better letting your little one loose in the living room.

If you’re the parent or caregiver to a tiny explorer, here’s how to babyproof a fireplace – including some ideas that aren’t completely hideous.

What You’ll Need

What you need to childproof a fireplace depends on whether you have a working fireplace or not (and whether you intend to use your working fireplace, or simply let it lie dormant during your childrens’ early years).

We’ve broken it down below.

What you Need to Babyproof a Functioning Fireplace (That You Intend to Use)

  • A baby safety fence that you can set up in front of the fireplace, creating a childproof fireplace screen your baby won’t be able to pull down.
  • Hearth protection, such as baby edge protectors or a padded hearth bench.
  • Fireplace door locks
  • A carbon monoxide detector

What you Need to Babyproof a Non-Functioning Fireplace (or a Fireplace you don’t Intend to Use)

  • Hearth protection, such as baby edge protectors or a padded hearth bench.
  • Fireplace door locks
  • Optional: DIY or purchased fireplace blocker
  • A carbon monoxide detector

How to Baby Proof a Fireplace

1. Use a Baby Safety Fence as a Childproof Fireplace Screen

If you have a working fireplace, that you intend to turn on and actually use, you need to create space between the heat and danger of the fire and your crawling, climbing, running, boundary-pushing little one.

For one, you want to prevent them from getting a burn, by getting too close to the fire or touching the fireplace doors. However, you also want to keep them away from the actual combustion, as the process gives of Carbon Monoxide, which isn’t good news from a health and safety perspective.

Baby safety fences are the best solution for creating a strong and reliable barrier between your kiddo and the fireplace. They are more flexible in terms of size and where you use them than a baby gate, and much sturdier than a freestanding fire screen.

Worth noting, freestanding fireplace screens like this one are not a good solution: a baby could easily pull it over by trying to pull themselves up on it, and a running toddler could easily knock it over. You need something that mounts to the wall to ensure sturdiness.

Like a baby gate, a baby safety fence is substantial enough to withstand the constant testing of an adventurous kid. It will keep them away from the flames or hot glass, and will put some distance between your baby and the carbon monoxide emissions generated by the burning. Plus, they give you easy access to the fireplace when needed.

Certainly, these aren’t the most stylish solutions. But if you childproof the fireplace hearth and use a fireplace door lock as well, you’ll only have to use the fence when the fireplace is actually on.

The Best Childproof Fireplace Screen

Toddleroo by North States Superyards

Toddleroo makes a massive range of baby “super yards” – which one you get really depends on: a) the size and specs of your fireplace b) your home design and style.

Their freestanding Metal Superyard is one of their most popular, and is well-suited to use with a fireplace. A built-in door gives you easy access, and it has a range of mounting options so you can fit it and fix it where needed.

Toddleroo also makes a wood superyard, which may fit in with your home design a bit better than the metal version. That said, we’d personally be a bit concerned about using the wood fence in front of some fireplaces – something worth considering.

The Toddleroo yards are pretty flexible, meaning many can do double duty. While it depends on the specific model you buy, many can get larger or smaller with additional panels, and are big enough to use as a freestanding play yard.

Best Choice Baby Hearth Gate

Best Choice makes a well-rated baby hearth gate as well. It works well around a fireplace and a wooden stove, and tends to be a bit more affordable than some of the other brands out there. However, it’s not as flexible as some of the other options as it’s too small to double as a freestanding play yard.

PETSJOY 6 Panels Baby Safety Gate

Another super flexible option, this 6-panel product can be used as a hexagonal play yard (free standing), as a baby gate for stairs, to block off a room, or to protect your baby from the fireplace. It has a walk-through gate so adults can get where they need to go, and is fairly tasteful as far as these things go.

Lazymoon Baby Fireplace Fence

Lazymoon’s fireplace fence is specifically designed for fireplaces, although you can buy additional kits to make it more flexible. If you don’t need something that will do double duty and want a product that seems to skew to the “more affordable” end of the price range, this could be a great choice.


2. How to Baby Proof a Fireplace Hearth

Ideas to Baby Proof an Unstepped Fireplace Hearth

If you have an unstepped hearth (i.e., one that lays even with your floor), the main concern is protecting your little one from the typically hard surface of the hearth – you don’t want any face plants or head bonks into solid stone.

In this case, a padded seat cushion or some EVA floor tiles could work, so long as the measurements work with your hearth. If EVA foam tiles don’t fit in with your home design, you could throw a hallway runner over top.

You could also place a piece of moveable furniture in front of the fireplace, like an ottoman bench with storage ( the storage can serve as a toy box if you need the space!)

Obviously, you need to remove these items if your fireplace is on.

Ideas to Baby Proof a Stepped Fireplace Hearth

Stepped hearths – where the hearth is raised like a bench – are a bit trickier to child proof. They have hard, sharp edges and are irresistible to pull up, climb, etc. Plus, when you don’t have the baby gate set up, your child will have easy access to the hearth, making it doubly important you properly protect this area of your home.

Padded Hearth Cushions

If you have a stepped hearth, the easiest solution is probably a padded hearth cushion like the ones made by KidKushion. They’re not the most attractive, but they’re not hideous either. And while they take a bit of finagling to fit, they do a great job and will put your mind at ease when your 2-year-old is running at full speed past your stone hearth.

If you don’t love the look of the foam hearth cushion, you could always put a removable seat cushion on top to add a bit of style or match your decor.

It should go without saying, but anything flammable needs to be removed before you start a fire.

Foam Edge Protectors

If you only need to child proof the edges of your hearth, you can buy high density foam edge protection, which is customizable in terms of length.

Bébé Earth makes a well-rated and affordable version, and if you need something that’s wider, KOOLDOO also makes a well-rated option.

Bonus of going with this option is you can use any leftover edge protector in other areas around the house. You can also cover any sharp edges around the fireplace, if your mantle is made of brick or stone.

While this solution doesn’t exactly complement the design of a home, it will work great. Remember it’s only for a few years!

3. Don’t Forget about Carbon Monoxide

We were surprised to learn you need to be especially careful with carbon monoxide levels when the fire is burning. Now that I actually type that, it feels a bit like a “duh” moment, but there you go!

Generally speaking, you want to have a carbon monoxide detector on every level of your home. However, you especially want one on the same floor as any fireplace.

We personally use the Nest Carbon Monoxide and Smoke detector, and love it! The integration with the app is a great feature for us, and we take it when we go on holiday, as many Airbnb and holiday apartments don’t have CO2 detectors. However, there are plenty of other well-rated options, too.

Kidde in particular is well-regarded, and their products have some of the highest ratings on Amazon. They make a plug-in version and a battery-operated version – both of which get fantastic reviews.

4. Additional Precautions

The above info covers the main steps in baby proofing a fireplace. However, there are a few more steps we recommend to keep your little one as safe as possible.

  • Use a fireplace door lock to prevent your child from getting into the fireplace when it’s not in use. The linked product requires a screwdriver to be removed (and it needs to be removed to use the fireplace), so is best suited to keeping the door handles locked when you only use your fireplace occasionally.
  • Put away your fireplace tools somewhere your baby can’t reach them. Fireplace pokers are an accident waiting to happen, and can get quite filthy, too.

Final Thoughts

These are just some ideas of how to baby proof your fireplace to make it safe for exploring children! To keep your baby truly safe, invest your time and attention into finding the best fireplace protection for your home and design.

Hopefully our ideas get you started as you work to child proof your fireplace and home.

And if you know of any parents or grandparents who could benefit from this article, we sure hope you’ll share it with them!

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