Let me guess… you’ve heard it from the pediatrician, you’ve heard it from your well-meaning parents, and you’ve heard it from your mommy/daddy friends, not to mention you’ve had that nagging feeling that you know… YOU NEED TO BABY-PROOF YOUR HOME!
So you get to work and before you know it, all outlet covers are in place, child locks are on door knobs, gates are up and heavy furniture is secured to your wall. You are done, right?! Wrong!
How the heck do you baby-proof the dreaded fireplace?! Specifically, that dangerous hearth.
Don’t you worry, I’ve got you covered!
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Now, if your specific fireplace has a raised hearth that is off the ground, baby-proofing the edges may not be quite as difficult as you may think. In fact, you can simply purchase a hearth cushion that is created in the form of padded tape. This tape is applied along all edges of the hearth and comes as a large roll along with individual corners. As you can imagine, this prevents your kiddo from getting hurt by falling/bumping directly into the hard and sometimes sharp edges. A taupe colored hearth cushionor brown colored hearth cushion are available for purchase by clicking on the links directly. If you are concerned about the security of tape padding, also available is a Metal Hearth Guard to provide extra security for the padding.
Gating Off the Entire Fireplace
Perhaps you just don’t want to take any risk and desire a product that allows you to secure off the entire fireplace premises, keeping your little one away from the fireplace at all times. If this sounds like what you had in mind, then a Fireplace Gate is for you. This product makes sure that your little one can get nowhere near the fireplace; however, provides a door for you to easily get in and out.
Baby-Proofing a Flush Fireplace Hearth
What happens when you don’t wish to gate off your entire fireplace (perhaps you feel it isn’t necessary given your little one’s behavior or perhaps either space or your home decor doesn’t allow for it)?
What if you don’t have a raised hearth that can be padded with a hearth guard cushion tape as featured above?
What if you have a flush fireplace hearth, where instead the hearth is level with that of the surrounding floor?
If this sounds like you, then you are not alone. I had this exact same dilemma and have the perfect solution for you!
When it was time to baby-proof our home, I just couldn’t seem to wrap my head around how to properly baby-proof our fireplace. While I wasn’t as concerned about the heat element of the fire (we decided to take a hiatus from actually using our fireplace on a regular basis while our kiddos are little), I was quite alarmed at the fact that our brick flush fireplace hearth was a huge hazard. I couldn’t help but to visualize injury upon injury that could occur (rolling and hitting her head, crawling and hurts her knees, walking and falling onto it… OUCH!).
I searched and searched for a product that would provide safety but also not be a huge eye-sore in that this product would be used for quite some time (rolling, crawling, walking, playing, etc.) and was viewable in our main living space. You may find it hard believe (or perhaps you may not if your unsuccessful search has landed you on this post in search of an answer) that there is not a product for flush fireplace hearths! Say what?! I know, I know… this may not sound like a big issue in the scheme of all things parenting; however, if you are trying to do your due diligence in the form of baby-proofing, then I’m sure you get where I am coming from.
When my search yielded limited results, I decided to temporarily fix the issue by laying pillows and blankets along the fireplace hearth. However, I knew this was not a permanent fix as 1) there was no way the Type A side of me would allow blankets to line my fireplace for years to come and 2) I knew these would easily move and would not provide the ultimate level of safety. Fortunately, these loose pillows and blankets did inspire a solution to my issue. A solution that not only was cosmetically suiting to me but also provided ample fireplace hearth safety! I decided to create a padded and weighted hearth cushion.
Making Your Own
In order to make this cushion, you should expect to put in a little legwork and give up a couple hours of your day. However, the end result will be worth it, promise!
In order to make this product, you will need:
- a piece of laminated pressed board shelving (This is the same board shelving that you would purchase to place as a shelf in your closet. These do come in different sizes, so be sure to measure the length of your hearth and get a board that will accommodate. I purchased mine from Home Depot here.)
- spray adhesive (I purchased mine from Home Depot here.)
- upholstery foam cushion (similar to this one here)
- fabric (I ended up selecting fabric that was close in color scheme to the surrounding carpet so that it was less of an eye-sore).
- a sabre saw or hand saw (similar to this one here)
- a staple gun (similar to this one here)
1.) Measure your board so that it is the proper length of the hearth (if the length or width is a bit long, that is okay, you just don’t want it too short.) Using your saw, cut the board to the ideal length and width.
2.) Line up your board in front of any notches on your hearth. While every fireplace is different, often times wood beams may jet down into the hearth. If this is the case, measure the width and length of the beam on the hearth. Then measure the distance from the end of the board/end of the hearth to where the beam intercepts. Using your saw, you then want to cut out a notch for the beam to insert into the hearth cushion allowing for a snug fit.
3.) Using the spray adhesive, spray the top of your board and quickly roll on the foam upholstery cushion padding onto the adhesive and onto the board (note: adhesive tends to dry quickly so have materials ready).
4.) Flip over your board and cut out extra foam in the area where you sawed out notches.
5.) Lay down your fabric on a clean, flat surface. Place your upside down board (foam side down) onto the center of the fabric.
6.) Begin to upholster the cushioned board. Begin by cutting the fabric to within a few inches of the edges. Then using a staple gun, pull the fabric up and over the edges tightly and staple the fabric down. (Note: to prevent wrinkles, I recommend starting with a few staples on the left side, then moving to a few on the right side, working back and forth. Repeat this process for the top and bottom.) Don’t worry about how beautiful or messy the backside looks. I ended up using a cheap manual staple gun and it got the job done just fine.
7.) Now flip your cushion right-side up, slide it onto the hearth, and enjoy!
Enjoy and Relax… your baby-proofing is done!
Now that you have your flush fireplace hearth officially baby-proofed you can sit back and relax with the peace of mind that your baby is that much less likely to injure themselves on your fireplace (I say less likely, because let’s face it… somehow babies and specifically toddlers always seem to find a way to get hurt on things you would never have even thought to baby proof, ugh!)
Aside from the comfort of knowing your baby is that much safer, you can also relish in the fact that your new baby-proofing creation doesn’t alter your entire home decor motif! In fact, if you don’t want it there when guests come over, simply pick it up and store it in a closet (keeping baby away altogether ;)).
Note: I would not recommend using your fireplace when using this cushion as it could result in a fire hazard!