How to make a sensory busy board for babies and toddlers

Keep your baby or toddler busy and curious, with this clever homemade activity board – that's easily created from family photos, nappy-wipes packets and other household items

busy board main

A busy board – or activity board – is the ultimate baby sensory toy. It’s a board covered with lots of things your baby or toddler can touch, turn, open, shut, spin, press, slide, switch – and more. And all of that’s brilliant for developing your child’s exploring and thinking skills, and shaping up their hand-eye coordination.

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And, though you can buy some really nice ones in the shops (see below for some favourites of ours), it’s actually surprisingly easy to make one yourself – as Amy, one of our MadeForMums crafters, showed us when she made this amazing, personalised busy board for her 13-month-old son Arco.

Arco loves the photos and the green fidget spinner with its flashing lights. And he really laughs when he looks at the hand mirrors, and puts his face up close to them
MFM crafter Amy Leech, mum to Arco, 11 months
close up of busy board
Pic: Amy Leech

How to make a busy board

We’re going to tell you here how to make a busy board like Amy’s one, above, but you can, of course, do your own thing, adding different bits and pieces to your board. DIY stores, such as B&Q, are excellent places to find bolts, bells, wheels, knobs, switches and locks.

Amy says she based her choice of things to put on Arco’s busy board on the things he liked fiddling with most: “Arco is obsessed with switches and gadgets, so, on the board, we gave him his own, far safer ones, to play with.

Arco’s not yet figured out the lock and chains yet but I have no doubt that he’ll get there soon. The busy board has definitely helped entertain him for a good while each day
MFM crafter Amy Leech, mum to Arco, 11 months

You will need:

  • A piece of ready-cut wood
  • Paint (1 colour or more) and a paintbrush
  • 2 empty baby wipe packets with liftable lids
  • Scissors
  • 2 family photos
  • Pencil
  • An electric drill
  • Short screws
  • Superglue
  • Gadgets, including a baking tray, a door lock and chain, a small calculator, an LED light, a fidget spinner, a light switch, a buckle and strap, a door bolt, a drawer knob, a zip, a wheel on a castor, acrylic mirrors,
  • Magnetic letters
  • Stickers to decorate (optional)

How to make it:

  1. Paint your piece of wood.
  2. While the paint is drying, cut the lids off the wipe packets, and trim the family photos so that they’ll fit into the area under the flap – so that when the flap is lifted, you can see the picture.
  3. Once dry, take the wood and lay out all your bits and pieces on it and roughly mark, with a pencil, where they will go. If you like, you can also paint different coloured circles, squares and rectangles where each gadget will sit – as Amy has.
  4. Once you’re happy you have placed everything where you want it, either glue your gadgets firmly onto the board or fix them firmly with a drill and screws. Make sure you add your family photos under the wet wipe flaps, before gluing them down.
  5. Decorate the finished board with stickers, if you wish.
baby playing with finished busy board

And there you have it! Do make sure everything is firmly attached before you hand the busy board over to your child – and, for obvious health and safety reasons, always stay with your child as they play with it.

Want to buy a busy board? Check these ones out

best baby busy boards to buy

From left to right:

  • Muro Modular Board Mega Pack: £189, Scandiborn
  • Janod Multi-Activity Looping Toy: £62, Amazon
  • Petit Activity Cube: £29.95, LeToyVan
  • Melissa & Doug Wooden Latches Board (age 3 and up): £19.99, Amazon

Pics: Amy Leech/toy retail websites

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