Is your toddler beginning to master the art of using the toilet or trying to wash hands in a sink? A step stool becomes an essential tool for promoting independence. Kids love to learn new things and do everything by themselves. I created plans and built this DIY Toddler Step Stool with Guard Rail for my niece. Here are the basic steps I did for this project.
- First Cut 36” Long Legs
- Drill Holes for Upper Step Adjustment
- Cut Boards for the Steps
- Cut Frame Boards for Lower Step
- Sand all Boards for the Step Stool
- Nail the Lower Step to the Frame
- Attach the Front Board of the Step Stool
- Assemble the Lower Step Frame
- Glue and Nail the Back Legs
- Nail the Front Legs
- Attach Pieces at the Top of the Legs
- Use Wooden Dowel Rods for Upper Step Support
- Clamp Dowel Rods to the Step Board
There are multiple studies indicate that giving your child tools and space to express their independence, directly correlates with the reduction of depression and anxiety disorder. Step stools are one small way to encourage toddlers’ independence.
Types of Step Stools
There are several different types of step stool out there. A simple one-step or two-step is most common. This could be used for getting off the toilet or reaching for a book on the shelf.
But if you want your child to help out in the kitchen, a taller step stool with guard rails is essential for the safety of your child. You don’t want your child to stand on tiptoes and reaching for something with a risk of falling. It’s also important to have a wide step so that a child could stand on it comfortably. But you also don’t want it too wide that it doesn’t fit in your confined space.
Finding a perfect step stool could be a challenging task. You have to consider the size and the cost. Also, for the safety of the child, you want to make sure the step stool is durable.
With all of that in mind, why not make your own custom step stool that fits your needs. I build this project for my niece since she’s at that stage of always wanting to wash her hands in the bathroom by herself. Standing on the toilet and reaching over to turn on the sink and washing her hands is not a very safe practice. So this step stool should help out a lot.
Time to Complete
Note: Lumber dimensions are listed as nominal size. See lumber sizes for actual dimensions vs nominal.
Disclosure: Some of the links on this page as well as links in “tools for this project” and “material list” sections are affiliate links.
Step 1 – First Cut 36” Long Legs
First, start with cutting the longest pieces which are the legs. Take 1×4 and cut four legs to 36″ in length.
Step 2 – Drill Holes for Upper Step Adjustment
From the bottom of the leg, measure 10 5/8″ and mark the center of the middle hole. Then measure 3″ up and 3″ down for an additional two holes (see picture). These holes are for adjusting the height of the upper step. Clamp two of the legs together and drill the holes with 1 3/8″ Hole Saw Bit. Do this for both sets of legs.
Step 3 – Cut Boards for the Steps
Next, take 1×12 and cut three pieces to 14″ in length. Using a Table Saw the lower step will need to be ripped to 7 1/4″ in width and the front board to 5 1/2″ in width. The upper step will be left unripped at 11 1/4″ in width.
Step 4 – Cut Frame Boards for Lower Step
Now take 1×4 and cut two pieces to 17 3/4″ in length and one piece to 12 1/2″ in length. Then using a Table Saw rip those three pieces in half. So the width of the boards will come out to be around 1 3/4″. These boards are for supporting the lower step.
Step 5 – Sand all Boards for the Toddler Step Stool
Before assembling the step stool, use a random orbital sander to sand the boards. Then take a pair of 17 3/4 pieces and attach one 12 1/2″ piece, as shown on the picture, using Wood Glue and Nail Gun with 1 1/4″ Brad Nails.
Step 6 – Nail the Lower Step to the Frame
Next place the lower step (7 1/4″ wide board) on top of the 17 3/4″ pieces. Make sure that this lower step board overhangs by 3/4 of an inch. Apply Wood Glue and nail it from the top.
Step 7 – Attach the Front Board of the Toddler Step Stool
Repeat step 5. Take the second set of 17 3/4″ pieces and attach a 12 1/2″ piece. Then take the front board (5 1/2″ wide) and attach it to this frame with Wood Glue and Brad Nails.
Step 8 – Assemble the Lower Step Frame
Now attach these two sections together with Wood Glue and Brad Nails.
Step 9 – Glue and Nail the Back Legs
Then attach the back legs to the step frame with Wood Glue and Brad Nails. Make sure the legs are flush with the frame in the back.
Step 10 – Nail the Front Legs
Take the front legs and attach them with wood glue and brad nails. Place the front legs right after the lower step. Make sure that the distance between the legs is the same at the bottom and at the top. This will ensure that the legs are straight.
Step 11 – Attach Pieces at the Top of the Legs
Similar to step 4, take 1×4 and cut one piece to 15 1/2″ in length and another piece to 12 3/4″. Then rip them in half to 1 3/4″ wide. Attach these pieces at the top of the legs. The back and side pieces will be attached with Wood Glue and nails. But the front piece will be attached only with screws. This way you could remove the front piece later if you need to.
Step 12 – Use Wooden Dowel Rods for Upper Step Support
For the upper adjustable step supports, use a 1 1/4″ wooden dowel rods. Typically this dowel rod is used for hanging close in the closet. Cut two dowel rods to 15 1/2″ in length.
Step 13 – Clamp Dowel Rods to the Step Board
Check to make sure the adjustable upper step board fits between the legs. You might want to trim off 1/8 of an inch so that you could easily slide it in and out. Place the step over the dowel rods and mark it where it needs to be attached. Then secure the dowel rods to the step board with a ridged pipe strap clamps and 3/4″ wood screws. To adjust the step, loosen the screws and slide the rods out and adjust to a different height. You’re done with this DIY Toddler Step Stool with Guard Rail.