DIY Sensory Boards for Babies & Toddlers

I am constantly on the lookout for new activities and attention-keeping toys that I can incorporate into our day (tough to find with the under-12 month crowd.) I’ve seen sensory boards made on other blogs and have been wanting to try my hand at making one for quite awhile. So, this weekend’s crappy weather spurred a little creative streak in me and I finally got around to putting these together.

First, I compiled a list of various small items that Chase would be interested in manipulating. At this moment in time, he’s very intrigued by pulling and twisting, things that make noise and lights. So that helped narrow down the list of objects to incorporate on his boards. I decided to make two because I wanted them to be small enough for him to reach across and I figured it was best to have a variety of objects that would hold his interest.

After we had our list, we headed out to Home Depot to hunt down our items:

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Board: MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) cut into two pieces that measure 15 in x 18 in

Top row: Velcro strips, two different drawer pulls, a sample carpet square (already had at home)

Middle row: Snap hook, door hinge, chain from light fixture we had at home

Bottom row: Door guard lock, door stopper, eyehooks and a sandpaper square (had at home)

Not pictured: Push light

Tools needed

  • Circular saw (we cut our boards at home, but you can have most home improvement stores cut them for you)
  • Drill and set of drill bits
  • Hot glue gun or some kind of strong hold glue
  • Pliers

First, we cut our boards. I marked them off with a pencil and my husband used the circular saw to cut them down. These particular boards are great for this project because they are engineered wood, meaning they don’t cause splinters for little fingers. You may have to file down any sharp edges with a fine grit sandpaper.

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We started with the door hinge, which was secured to the board with three small screws. We left the other side loose because we wanted him to be able to open and close the hinge.

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Next, we screwed the doorstopper in with one screw on the bottom and then twisted the spring into place. This one was my husband’s idea and he’s super proud of how much Chase loves it.

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Then, I hot glued a carpet square sample we had leftover from redoing our upstairs carpets a couple months back.

While I had the hot glue gun fired up, I also glued a square of sandpaper to the board. Make sure you apply the glue in a thin layer so it doesn’t get bumpy underneath. (As in, not the way I did it below)

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Then we drilled a hole through the board and fed a bolt through the back for the white drawer pull to secure to. We specifically chose a longer bolt than we needed so that Chase could turn the knob without unscrewing it from the board.

We finished up this board by drilling a small pilot hole for the eyehook, which we then screwed into the board. You can use a pair of pliers to help turn it once it starts to get snug.

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Finally, we attached the snap hook to the eyehook and board #1 was complete. This one took about 35 minutes total.

For the second board, we started with the door guard lock, which we attached to the board with three screws. We chose to only use this part of the lock, since using the rest of the hardware would make it too hard for a baby to manipulate.

Then, we added another drawer pull exactly the same way we did with the one on the first board. This drawer pull has a little lever that moves up and down which we thought would be fun to play with.

Next, we attached a small screw to the board for the light to secure to. This particular light took 4 AA batteries and has a little hole for the screw to slide into, meaning we can just slide it off the board when we need to change out the batteries.

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After, I attached some Velcro strips to the board. I decided to use both sides so there would be two different textures for him to touch.

Finally, we added another eyehook to this board and attached a few links of a chain leftover from a light fixture we recently installed in our kitchen. We used pliers to remove the extra links we didn’t need.

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This board took probably about 20 minutes, since we had already worked out the kinks on the first one. We were able to get all of it done while the boy was napping and unveiled his new toys when he woke up.

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Chase dug right in and had a hard time deciding which object he wanted to play with first.

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The doorstopper is a definite favorite, since it springs back every time he pulls on it. Endless thrills 🙂

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The light is a close second to the doorstopper. Since it only needs to be pushed to turn on, he can turn it off and on himself.

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The only thing that doesn’t seem to be a big draw is the Velcro, which is understandable considering the other objects are a little more interesting and attention-grabbing. The good thing is that I can easily change it out for something different if I decide to, at some point.

Overall, I’m so happy with how this project turned out and I love that he has two new toys to keep him entertained. The whole project cost us $47, but you could definitely make something like this for much cheaper by using only one board or buying materials that are a little less expensive (we had a gift card to HD, which is the reason we spent this much) or you could look around your house for more objects (hello junk drawer!)

Have you ever made a sensory board? How did it turn out? What other DIY toys have you made for your kids?


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Melissa Mowry

Melissa Mowry is a stay at home mom to 3 year old Chase and the slightly younger guy, Sam. She is the main voice behind One Mother to Another, which she started in July 2014 as a way to connect with other moms who felt just as lonely as she did some days. She is married to her high school sweetheart, Adam, and they live in their home state of Rhode Island. Melissa's work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, Mamalode, Coffee + Crumbs and Mamapedia, among others. Her book, One Mother to Another: This Is Just Between Us is for sale on Amazon.
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One Response to DIY Sensory Boards for Babies & Toddlers

  1. Anisah February 25, 2016 at 10:56 am #

    Is it possible to cut this board with a box cutter? If I wanted to cut out shapes.

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