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Bringing a new baby into your home can be at once one of the most exciting times of your life and one of the most terrifying. Is your home save for a curious baby with tiny hands and clumsy feet? Today, the market abounds with products and solutions for all the sharp corners, slippery surfaces, and dangerous passages that might be found in the typical American home. Fireplaces, however, can prove a unique problem for new parents to tackle. Below are a few suggestions for baby proofing a brick fireplace.

Foam Cushions

Depending on the shape of your fireplace, you may be able to get away with simply adding foam padding to all the sharp corners surrounding the hearth and edges of the fireplace, much the same way the edges of tables or other blocky furniture can be baby proofed. Such foam can be purchased at most home improvement stores and many childcare stores, including online marketplaces like diapers.com.

Other parents have simply duct-taped blankets to the edges and/or over the entrance of the fireplace to prevent the child from tampering too much with it or injuring themselves, but such measures are usually rather unsightly and unfortunately temporary. Some parents have found, however, that the biggest problem associated with this form of baby proofing is the tape used to attach the foam or cloth.

Typical adhesive tape stands no chance against persistent yanking by young children. Some parents find that the foam no longer stays in place after only a few days of tampering by the young culprit. In this case, other measures might be required to baby proof your brick fireplace.

Obstruction

Many parents have simply resorted to blocking the entrance of the fireplace with furniture, often a couch or a low table, to remove the interesting play place from the sight and mind of the child. This, of course, is only an option if you have furniture adept to such purposes and you do not wish to utilize the fireplace at all.

A more expensive but more convenient solution is to buy a child gate, like used to protect children from falling down stairs or other dangerous areas. Again, this may not be feasible for every type of fireplace, but where possible could be a functional alternative to semi-permanently blocking the entrance to your brick fireplace.

A Creative Hearth Bench

Many parents have opted to baby proof their brick fireplace by remaking the hearth of the fireplace into a cushioned bench. This is a convenient solution that costs little and does not render the fireplace completely useless, especially because most such constructions can be easily removed if you would like to use the fireplace normally.

Building a bench over your fireplace’s hearth is easier than it may seem – all you need is some plywood, wood glue, screws, 2” foam, fabric or vinyl, and a staple gun. For an example of a successfully constructed baby proofed fireplace, see http://jahjong.blogspot.com/2011/06/how-to-baby-proof-your-fireplace-hearth.html.

Boundaries

Some parents find that it is impossible to make a baby proofing brick fireplace because none of the above options last long enough, the child continues to find ways around any blockades, or the brick fireplace is too large or awkwardly shaped to permit any sort of gate or bench construction. In this case, it has been suggested that parents simply concentrate on teaching their children the boundaries of where they are and are not allowed to play in the home, and what areas are dangerous and why.

One parent finds that constantly chastising the child for going too close or tampering with the fireplace as a means of deterrance seems to work well (http://community.babycenter.com/post/a22915007/babyproofing_a_brick_fire_place).

Hide Those Accessories!

Don’t forget to stash away the various accessories that come along with your fireplace. Matches, firestarters, and other flammable objects can be extremely dangerous for young children because of both their flammable and poisonous natures, and should be kept away from children at all times. These items should either be kept in a separate cabinet out of reach of the child or potentially inside the fireplace, if the fireplace itself is 100% inaccessible to the child. Other accessories, like fire pokers and ash pans, can also be stored inside the brick fireplace or inside your homemade hearth bench away from children.

Baby proofing your brick fireplace may be no small feat but, as evidenced above, is completely possible given a bit of ingenuity and patience! Listening to the experiences of other parents is one of the most helpful ways to learn from others’ mistakes and make the best choices for you and your family.