Childproofing Fireplaces

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Fireplace with gas-fired log set

May 2002

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! Amanda P.

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. anonymous

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! Lisa

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: Jennie

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. T.J

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. Nomi