DIY toddler sink

The Backstory

I have twin toddlers who are tall for their ages, but not tall enough to reach a bathroom faucet. Normally a step ladder would work, but I have only one bathroom and it’s too small for a ladder to be left in place permanently.

We made do for a while, but hoisting a 35lb toddler up awkwardly each time they need to wash their hands was getting old (for anyone not familiar with toddler life, that’s approximately 1214891 times per day).

I looked online for a solution to buy. There are a handful of examples of Montessori style sinks but most have a water pitcher or 1 gallon lemonade-dispenser style jugs on top of the sink, which would need to be refilled too often for my taste and are also too likely to be tipped over by curious hands.

The Idea

I started drawing up a design for a toddler-height sink with running water that could be placed in an open space in our laundry room outside the bathroom – no plumbing required. The main idea was to use a battery powered pump and 5 gallon bottle as the core of the sink mechanism, and build a basic frame around it.

I initially wanted to include a jug for the used water as well, but realized that wouldn’t fit into my space constraints. I also wanted to build sides and a door but decided not to for simplicity and also to keep the space nicely aired out – water and enclosed spaces generally being a bad thing.

The Solution

  • a battery powered water pump (rechargeable via USB). Amazon sells it under a bunch of different brands but as far as I can tell they’re all the same. for example:¬† Electric Water Dispenser
  • a 5 gallon water jug
  • wood frame – I used .5inch plywood for the base and stud boards (2″ by 3″) for the posts
  • a toy bin with a rimmed edge (8×11.5″) commonly sold on amazon (also IKEA has them) – for example: Toy Storage Bin
  • contact paper to cover the top – a marble effect would be cute,¬†example
I am NOT handy with physical tools, but I can use digital ones. I started modeling in Sketchup. This let me verify that the initial measurements were correct and my idea would actually work in physical space.

DIY toddler sink model back

 

Measurements
  • the depth of the sink front to back must be at least 19″ to allow enough space for both the water jug and the toy bin
  • the width of the sink is 15″ in my design
  • the top and base are .5″ plywood
  • the height of a the sink minus the feet is 19.5″. my kids are tall, so I planned for another 2.5″ to be added as feet to raise the sink up slightly (eventually I ended up using an equivalent height concrete block below the jug instead of adding feet, but feet would have looked much nicer, just ran out of time).

The Result

It’s not pretty, but it works! The kids love their new sink. The real winner moment was a few days after I finished, one of my sons (2 years old) finished his dinner and asked to get down, then entirely on his own went and washed his hands before going to play. Success!
Toddler using sink

 

Note: the sound that the pump makes is nowhere as loud as this video makes it seem!

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