Childproofing a Fireplace
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Childproofing a Fireplace
We live in a rental where there is a gas log set installed in
our fireplace. This includes several heavy ''logs'' which are
stacked on the grate. I am trying to figure out a way to
babyproof the fireplace in a way that would not further entice
my very active, almost crawling seven-month-old son. Even if
we remove the logs, there is still a gas unit that he might be
interested in playing with. Because we rent our home, we
cannot do anything too drastic.
Any suggestions will be very much appreciated!
After removing the grate, we stuffed our fireplace with boxes,
then put a piece of fabric over the boxes. This is a semi-
permanent solution as you wouldn't want to dismantle it too
often. We just decided that we wouldn't have fires in the
fireplace until the kids were old enough to stay away.
We babyproofed our fireplace via a fireplace screen -- we secured
it to the fireplace with bungee cords, so our son can't pull it
down on himself. (Actually, a number of freestanding pieces of
furniture in our house are bungee-corded to the wall -- it works
well in so far as he can't actually bring anything crashing down
on him, try as he might.) Another solution that I've seen at
friends' houses is to tape a huge piece of cardboard over the
fireplace opening with duct tape. It might be unattractive, but
it works. Teresa
For the fireplace, I recommend a blockade of some sort, if
you don't mind not using the fireplace for fires. I blocked off
our fireplace with the coffee table, which is substantial--it
has a glass top with display drawer, and drawers below, so
it is heavy, with no crawling space underneath. The coffee
table took up too much potential play area in front of the
couch, so moving it in front of the fireplace was better
anyway. When my son started to yank on the drawer pulls, I
wrapped the whole table in a spare comforter, making
drawers inaccessible (and softening any falls), and put it in
front of the fireplace. It is still adequate to keep my tallish
16-month old out of the fireplace, though he will be able to
climb onto it in the fairly near future, I suspect.
You probably don't have a coffee table just like ours, but
another piece of furniture could be adapted for the same
purpose. I have also used our porta-crib to blockade
hazards, though some crawlers might try to go under--mine
never did. The porta-crib is still (at 16 months) a good
blockade, though bulky, and it now provides a safe haven for
items such as the purses of visitors, or anything else you
want to keep away from the baby.
For a younger baby, I also found it quite effective to blockade
things by strategically placing some of my boxes full of
books (I have more books than bookcases). For the early
crawling stages, one Xerox box is enough. Two (full) Xerox
boxes, stacked, are tall enough to work for quite a while
(walkers as well as crawlers). Wrapping the boxes in fabric
(quilts, blankets, sheets, towels, whatever you have that
looks acceptable to you) keeps them stacked and prevents
cardboard chewing and ingestion (and opening of boxes
too). You can duct tape the boxes together too but wrapping
worked well enough for me. Boxes wrapped this way are
actually pretty soft for the head-bumping that new crawlers
do--easier on the forehead than wooden furniture! Have fun!
Hm, tough to do it as a renter. I baby-proofed my fireplace with
panels from the Today's Kids Infant-Toddler Playland, copying
what my friend Jenne did (hi, Jenne!). I used zip ties to connect
the panels together, and connected them to the wall with screw
eyes (not sure if you can screw anything into the wall--if you
can, it's just two small holes to spackle & paint). The Playland
is on the Today's Kids main web page: http://www.todayskids.com/.
We also covered our fireplace and hearth (had sharp corners),
but with a padded fabric cover that I made. It was attached with
bungee cords, but in retrospect, I'd be careful with those since
they can snap back dangerously (though obviously a young child
most likely can't undo one). I think I'd try velcro or some
other type of fastener.
We bought a sheet of plastic (I think it's about 1/8'' thick) at
Tap Plastics, cut to the size of our fireplace opening, and
attached it with strong stick-on velcro. The baby can't pull it
off, but we can remove it if we ever want to use the fireplace.
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