Whether you use it often, or if it’s only decorative, your fireplace and hearth can be a beautiful focal point of any room. At the same time, they’re generally one of the least kid-friendly areas in a home, as they’re often made of stone or brick. The fireplace presents a unique challenge to parents who want to keep their tots safe, and one solution does not always fit all. There are two strategies one can use to tackle this challenge, both of which can be installed easily and affordably.
Option 1: An extra-long baby gate
A baby gate is one of the easiest solutions for keeping your child away from the fireplace. A gate will prevent entry to the area, but it can also be easily taken down when you’re entertaining. We like the Regalo Super Adjustable 192-inch Wide Gate and Play Yard thanks to its limitless size and shape options: It extends 16 feet end-to-end, and can enclose a total of 19 square feet. Use it to cordon-off a fireplace, as shown above, or to create a large, enclosed play yard (because putting your seven year old in a pack and play seems a bit inhumane). The Regalo gate is made of steel and comes with mounting hardware and a door panel. When it’s not in use, the panels can be collapsed on top of each other for easy storage.
TJ Donegan, our Executive Editor of Core Content says of the Regalo: "We have two young kids and a pellet stove that sticks out about four feet from our fireplace. Even though we don't use the stove, it's big and would be dangerous for the kids to be around. We got this gate and it has worked great.
It does sway a little bit side-to-side, but it's kept the kids away from the fireplace just fine. And because it's totally modular, we only needed to use four of the six panels, leaving two panels that we could theoretically use to gate off another doorway elsewhere in the house."
Think this is just a one-trick pony for fireplaces? Think again, you can use this to protect your Christmas tree, too!
Option 2: Foam Padding
Up next, we look at using foam edge protection to prevent bumps and scrapes. If you have a ledge that leads up to your fireplace, you may just need to soften it instead of trying to put a gate around it. This is a common strategy for those who may have a non-operating fireplace, or one that already has doors that enclose it. While you'll still need something to prevent a toddler from touching the fireplace while in use, this solution avoids the bumps and bruises that may come from hard or irregular edges.
The Roving Cove Baby Proofing Edge & Corner Guards are the best edge protectors we found in our safety guide testing. We liked that they were far more dense and supportive than the competition, and that the manufacturer is very transparent about the materials that go into their foams. The Roving Cove kit runs $19.95 and covers just over 16 feet. It’s a one-piece foam roll that you affix using 3M adhesives, and there are special corner pieces that come with it. In our research, we found that a lot of brands made fireplace-specific kits or pads, but many were expensive and unnecessary. To spend over $100 on a thin foam pad just didn’t make sense to us.
Either option will yield a safer home, but it’s up to you how you’ll choose to baby-proof your fireplace. If you have a non-linear or irregular shaped fireplace, a gate is probably your best option. If you have a smooth ledge and a locking door, you may just need some edge protection. If the situation merits it, using both might be the safest option. Obviously a gate or edge protection can help to prevent injuries, but watching your child is always the best strategy.
Prices are accurate at the time of publication, but may change over time.