It has been a few years since I last published an instructable, but now I've got a little baby Procrastibaker who is just starting to become mobile. She is 7 months old and just learned to pull herself up on furniture, and took to cruising like a champ.
Unfortunately, this also means taking EVERYTHING off the couches and coffee tables to prevent it from going into her mouth.
We decided to make her a place where she could pull up and cruise to her heart's content! This project was surprisingly quick and easy - I think the trip to Home Depot for materials took longer than putting it together!
- Piece of Stair Railing (I used a 6ft piece of unfinished red oak railing)
- Railing Mounts - (I used 3 for a 6ft rail, one at each end and in the middle, but minimum 1 every 4ft of rail)
- Screws if your Mounts did not include them
- Pencil for Marking Wall
- (OPTIONAL) Foam pads to place beneath the bar for a softer landing
- (OPTIONAL) Toys / Mirrors / ETC to put around / above the bar to encourage exploration.
- Stud Finder
- Measuring Stick / Tape
- Drill / Screwdriver - *really recommend the drill here*
Step 1: Measure Twice, Build Once
Babies grow super fast, so make sure you are taking that into consideration when building something for them, so that it can grow with the child. Measurement wise, you'll need to mark the studs, figure out how long you want it, and also figure out how high to place it. These are all things that will be custom to your project and your child.
Find a location in your home where:
- There is a safe stretch of wall with nothing nearby that they can fall on or injure themselves with.
- You can easily block it off to prevent unsupervised access by baby.
- It won't be in the way of furniture, foot traffic, or other household activities.
Measure out how much space you have to work with, and think about how big you want this - I saw many 2-3ft long bars when I was searching for inspiration, but I knew my little mover would be wanting more room to roam, so I opted for a 6 ft long bar and placed it in my front hallway which is generally empty and unused.
This bar MUST be screwed into studs for proper stability, as safety is the primary consideration when building something for a baby or small child, so make sure however long you are wanting to build it, you are starting and ending with a stud for it to be mounted into. You will need to attach the mounts to a stud at each end of the railing as well as at minimum every 48" along the length of the railing. We chose to have a mount at each end and a mount in the middle for our 6ft baby rail. Mark the studs as you measure so that you can plan out where to place your mounts.
Now, you will also want to measure the height of objects your baby is currently grabbing on, and what they are reaching for. Our kiddo generally is working on things in the 18"-20" range at the moment, however she is reaching and will hold onto things higher than that. So to give her something to work towards and ensure she won't instantly outgrow this, we marked the studs to mount at 22" high. Keep in mind when marking that the mounts and railing add height as well, so when it is all finished the top of our rail will be about 24"-26" off the ground.
Using a level at this step can ensure that all your markings are level with each other, even if your floor may not be - We chose not to use a level and have our mounts in relation to our uneven floor so it would be a consistent height for baby.
Step 2: Mount the Mounts
Now that you have measured out and marked where you want the railing mounts to go, simply drill a pilot hole using a drill bit the same size as the screws, and screw the mounts in place.
Some find it easier to screw the mounts into the railings first before attaching it to the wall, and if that is what works best for you, have at it! However, I strongly recommend screwing in the mounts first, even if you unscrew them to attach them to the railing, so that they can be easily reattached to the wall once assembled.
I generally left a small amount of give to the railings when initially mounting them so that I can turn them a little bit to make sure they line up evenly with the railing when mounting and to make the final mounting easier. We will be tightening up everything at the end anyways.
Step 3: Mount, Measure, and Mark
Gently lay your railing across the mounts and ensure that it is even. I marked the ends of the railing to ensure that an equal distance of railing would go past the mount at either end.
Once it was in position where I was going to mount it, I went underneath and marked exactly where all of the screw holes lined up on the wood. After marking, I pulled it back off to center the marks and drill pilot holes on my markings.
I re-marked each set by carefully measuring and drawing a straight line through the middle of the bottom of the board to provide a guideline on where to mark and drill the pilot holes so that the wooden railing would be centered on the mounts. Once I was confident everything was measured and marked carefully, I drilled the pilot holes.
Be VERY careful not to accidentally drill all the way through your railing when drilling the pilot holes!!!
Step 4: Screw It in & Tighten It Up
Now that all the pilot holes are drilled, you have your choice of how to mount it.
You can remove the mounts from the wall, screw them to the railing, then remount the entire thing. You will DEFINITELY need two people if you are planning on doing it this way (though generally having two people is a good thing for any project.)
We left the mounts mounted on the wall from the measuring and marking, so we just replaced the railing back onto the mounts so that the pilot holes lined up evenly with the hardware and then placed the screws. It took a bit of pressure to get these screws in upside down, even with the pilot holes, so be aware of the extra pressure needed if you are working with a harder wood like oak rather than poplar or pine.
If you are screwing the railing into mounts that have already been attached to the wall, I recommend placing the first screw as close to the center of the railing as possible. This will help keep the railing in position for putting in the rest of the screws without hassle.
Once all the screws are in, make sure to go back through tightening and double-checking EVERYTHING - remember, this is for a baby and SAFETY FIRST!
Step 5: Let the Fun Begin!!!
Ta-Da!!! 1 hour and $40 later, we have a custom cruiser baby bar that our little explorer can enjoy for a long time. She took to it like a champ and loved having a new place to explore!
As I mentioned earlier in the instructable - we built ours just on the edge of our little girl's abilities, so she will have plenty of room to grow with it. Right now, she can inch along it if we help her grab it, but she hasn't quite figured out how to get up to it herself (but she is getting there, and I'm sure she'll have that mastered within the week.)
Optional / Not Pictured - Add foam floor mats/squares to provide a cushioned area in case of falls. This step isn't always necessary as generally babies are okay when they fall from their own height, if you have hardwood floor or are worried about your child falling, then the foam floor mats can be helpful - Just make sure they are steady and secure, as if they aren't it could cause more slips than preventing falls! We've also been putting little toys or her mirror on or right above the railing to encourage her to reach up, try to stand, and/or move along the rail. This is truly a toy with endless possibilities!
This is an entry in the
1 Hour Challenge