Updated: Feb 5, 2022
I'm at that point where baby proofing has become unavoidable. We never had to baby proof in this house. We moved here when June was 15 months...and she was a kid who always valued the concept of safety (I swear to you, these kids exist...and June happened to be one of them). So, our house has never seen the dreaded baby gates...the unsightly jail-like metal bars that ruin drywall and leave you cursing because child locks lock out adults too. For Alder, who was at the time 8 months old and an army crawling explorer, I was left to peruse Pinterest for solutions. And I'm not going to lie, finding a modern baby gate solution for the area Alder has been so enamoured with, the fireplace, proved to be difficult.
The Failed Search
The search on Pinterest left me empty handed. So, when times like this occur...you figure it out on your own.
Sometimes Solution's just work out
WHAT YOU NEED: Ikea Sniglar Crib, a saw (I used my mitre saw...but, this could also be accomplished with a hand saw), 2 wood screws and a small mending plate (a straight metal bracket to connect two pieces of wood), a way to connect the gate to your fireplace - I will outline what we did later on.
This is an Ikea Sniglar Crib. They sell brand new for $129 CAD, which is pretty affordable for something you hope your baby will sleep (through the night) in. I found this in my parent's garage (tap the pic above to see the crib broken down in pieces).
The backstory: A couple years ago, we had this extra crib set up in my parent's house. My parent's graciously let us live with them while we renovated our house (any statement that I make to say how good it was to be able to stay with parent's who cook and help with your kids while you work away on a reno would be an understatement. They were our saving grace during that time. The gratitude I felt was immense). So, now that we live down the street, it didn't make sense for us to have a crib in both spots. This crib was available, free and I felt okay cutting it up. Plus, the simple wood spindles are beautiful and it's a crib - safe for baby's hands and has walls...I was like, good. This might work.
The Quick Run Down of Process
1. Saw off the legs of the crib (the shorter walls will have legs, the longer walls are leg free). (Note: If you are wondering if it was physically awkward cutting down the crib to fit the fireplace surround...it was. Yetttttt, it was also manageable.)
2. Take the two shorter crib walls to frame the sides of your fireplace surround (see left-the legs are still on one of the shorter crib walls in picture). Cut each short crib wall to fit the right and left side of your fireplace surround. ENSURE to keep one original connection point for each crib wall. This will aid in assembly later on.
3. Take the two longer crib walls (see below). These two walls together will be the gate for your fireplace front. Cut each wall to fit the space. (For our fireplace front, I only needed to cut one crib wall for this part. If you want the seam to be in the middle, cut both crib walls symmetrically. I did not mind the seam being off centre).
4. Bring all your crib wall pieces to your fireplace and assemble (see above). Side crib walls attach to front crib walls as the crib normally assembles. Ensuring to keep one original connection point of each crib wall allows you to attach the corners as seen above.
5. Connect the seam in the front of your gate with a mending plate (see below) you can pick up at a hardware store (small metal plate with two screw holes). I had a small, flexible mending plate from a flat pack piece of furniture from times past (I keep stuff like this, for reasons knowing that I could use it in future... for random builds like this). Connect the seam with the mending plate and two small wood screws. Drill pilot holes first, this makes life easier.
6. Secure the gate to your fireplace. This will be different for your particular case. For us, we have trim that surrounds the tile surround. My plan was to drill a pilot hole in the crib wall to sink a wood screw to connect our crib wall to our fireplace trim surround. What I did instead was use 4 heavy duty 3M velcro strips to attach the gate to the fireplace surround for a nail free solution. For us, the gate is held sufficiently to allow our now 1 year old to pull herself to standing on the gate. I am always close by to re-direct her though. Even with a gate in place, I still do my best to stay close while she is in this phase of unreasonable, over-explorative, mobility.
Another view that shows where it's cut and how it connects
The Final Product
This gate has been in use in our living room for almost 5 months now. And it has served it's purpose better than I expected. Putting up the gate early too (our daughter was 8 months when the gate was installed and now she is almost 13 months) has positioned the fireplace as an off-limits area in her mind. I guess she's learned that it's not a fun place, as she can't get to the dangerous stuff. And now she ignores it. Which is great! I know this will change as she gets older and pushes boundaries. But, I'm always nearby, keeping an eye on that one.
For now, we have a baby gate in place, that I actually quite like the look of. The wood tone compliments our family room nicely and the vertical line actually adds interest to the view as a whole. I can tell you now, I will still look forward to the day when we don't need baby proofing. But, for where I'm at in life, I'm happy to have found a solution that is actually quite easy to make, accessible (any secondhand crib could potentially work) and dare I say good for the environment? (One less crib destined for the dump). Thanks so much for reading and hopefully you found great use in this article. Drop a comment below and let me know what you think!
DISCLAIMER: This baby gate's main purpose is to stop our baby from getting close to the gas fireplace glass insert. Always supervise your child when they are near or around your fireplace. Also, act in accordance and follow guidelines to adhere to the safety measures outlined for your particular fireplace insert.