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How to Babyproof a Fireplace

How to Babyproof a Fireplace

how to babyproof a fireplace

The best part about babyproof a fireplace, apart from the obvious of preventing accidents, is it’s easy, accessible, affordable, and the little effort it takes to do so pays off exponentially with your child’s safety. 

Based on the U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than half of fireplace injuries are from children aged five and below, ranging from minor injuries from the hearth and 5% burning. 

Babies, toddlers, and even pre-schoolers have an unfortunate inclination towards things that compromise their safety. So unless you’ve got a little one who’s magically obedient and inherently aware of the dangers of a fireplace, you’ll want to invest some time and energy towards babyproofing your fireplace. 

Here’s a mix of methods to babyproof a fireplace and some parenting approaches that may help divert attention from it. 

Soften The Hearth

The fireplace hearth is the most obvious place to start when babyproofing the area. Whether a stepped pad or a floor-level one, it’s solid and not something you want your baby’s head bumping or colliding with. 

You can select and mix and match products that will soften the hearth without compromising the non-combustible nature of the granite, cement, stone, or marble. Corner protectors, tubing guards, and even padded mats can soften the hearth by acting as a cushion from unwanted falls, which can make all the difference in the severity of accidents. Be sure to select non-flammable products and be ready to accept that the hearth is a baby-proofed eyesore with all the cushioning. 

Consider A Baby Gate

Life gets in the way; sometimes, we can’t always have two eyes on our baby every day. The best way to ensure your little one’s safety around the fireplace is to block access from it but in a creatively divertive way. 

Baby gates are sometimes a double-edged sword for parents. Yes, they restrict certain areas, but in doing so, it makes the restricted area all the more a place of interest. It’s not just about putting a baby gate around the fireplace; it’s also about getting rid of the novelty of the area. 

So, if you’re considering a baby gate around the fireplace, set it up to make your baby associate it with something to look forward to as opposed to something they don’t have access to. For example, set up a basket of unique toys reserved just for the fireplace when you set up the gate. This can help divert your baby’s attention from the fireplace altogether. 

If you’ve got an electric fireplace in your home, keep electrical sockets inaccessible. You can place electrical plugs over sockets to protect curious fingers from getting electrocuted. 

Clean The Chimney 

Indoor smoke isn’t good for anybody, but its health risk is far more significant for tiny baby lungs. Ensure your wood fireplace has a clean and clear chimney to allow the smoke to go out instead of back in your home. 

Paired with keeping the chimney clean, a monoxide detector is a fantastic and essential tool that will ensure the safety of your baby and your entire household. For a seamless and affordable piece of equipment that sets the alarm when monoxide levels are high, you’d be remiss not to have one installed whether you have kids or not. 

Don’t Stack Logs

Stacking logs are another hazard to consider if you own a wood fireplace. Toddlers may use it as a crutch while trying to walk, stand or even climb. Apart from not wanting your child to fall off a stack of logs, you also don’t want to risk a log falling on them. 

Like the fireplace itself, logs should be kept away from babies at all costs. If you insist on keeping them near your fireplace, don’t stack them too high; always lay them down horizontally instead of vertically to lessen the risk of toppling over. If you’re utilizing a baby gate, account for the distance a log may potentially fall and roll to and keep the baby gate safe from that distance. 

Keep Fireplace Paraphernalia Out Of Reach

Matches, heavy logs, sharp kindling, gas, brooms, tongs, pokers, and the like are as hazardous to a baby as it is intriguing to them. For obvious safety reasons, keep them out of reach behind the baby gate and avoid using them while your baby is around to reduce any curiosity they might develop over it. 

Do Maintenance Checks Regularly

Babyproofing a fireplace once doesn’t always mean that it will always be safe. On a functional level for the fireplace itself and a safety level for your baby, regularly check maintenance such as keeping the area clean and free of ash, checking that smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are working, making sure that the chimney is clear, etc. 

Don’t Hype Up The FirePlace

Babies and adults alike understand the almost hypnotic allure a fire can give. While not always a fool-proof approach, try not to sensationalize the fire and the fireplace around your baby. The more of a big deal you make it out to be, the more curiosity a baby will have towards it. 

It’s like your mobile phone or the remote control. Babies want in on whatever it is you’re constantly using. Imagine their wander towards the fireplace, where there’s a whole process of laying out the logs, lighting the kindling, to even dousing the fire. It’s quite a sensory experience for any child of any age to be curious. 

Allow Them To Explore The Fireplace

While not technically a method of babyproofing a fireplace, allowing your child to explore the fireplace safely is a great way to feed their curiosity about the entire area. Obviously, when the bricks are cold, and there’s no fire, allow them to explore the fireplace area if they decide to approach it. 

We don’t know what’s drawing your baby to the fireplace, but any parent will know suppressing curiosity never works, so explore with them when it’s safe. While not guaranteed to stop them from being curious about the fireplace, it may be enough to help disinterest them when it’s not safe to explore. 

A fireplace is a lovely addition to a home. Babyproofing means you can still enjoy it, but as parents will know, you’ll have to wait till your children are sound asleep before you can think of lighting up a cozy fire and winding down in front of it, worry-free.