Water Play Ideas for Babies and Toddlers Highlights.
- Water play promotes physical and social development in babies and toddlers.
- Water play for babies and toddlers is simple and cost effective.
- Maintain water safety rules when babies and toddlers are playing with water.
Water play is healthy for babies and toddlers.
Children of all ages find it both stimulating and calming to play with or in water. Water play introduces babies and toddlers to new auditory, visual, and tactile sensations. Simple activities like hand-clapping and kicking in water are entirely new sensory experiences for young children.
Repetitive movements like pouring water into different sized cups or running water through their hands, are soothing for babies and toddlers and helps them develop emotional self-regulation. At our house, we use plastic measuring cups.
Grabbing at flowing water builds a baby’s core strength and stamina and helps them develop their palmar grasp and later their pincer grasp. Water play also improves children's balance and strength.
Like all play, water play is good for children’s social development. A simple kiddie pool enables your wee ones to discover new things and interact with each other in a novel shared space.
Best of all, water play is fun and helps kids expel a lot of energy. We especially love beach days, not just to have fun in the sun and splash in the waves, but because everyone takes a nice long nap afterward.
Here are some of our favorite ideas for water play with our little ones. None of them are complicated or require a lot of space. We hope you enjoy trying them out.
Some fun ideas for outdoor summer water play for babies and toddlers.
Set up a sprinkler and watch your happily squealing children run until they're exhausted. We play “red light, green light” and stop and start running through the water.
A small kiddie pool fits onto city patios . . . like ours. Throw in some bath toys, or just regular plastic toys (just make sure there are no metal or batteries in them). Then enjoy watching imaginations getting to work.
- No kiddie pool? No problem. Try filling a plastic storage container or sensory bin with the same toys, kitchen utensils, and anything handy that’s waterproof in there. It’s good for kids to practice squeezing and scrubbing so throw in some sponges and clothes too. Kitchen utensils and measuring cups are great for pouring and mixing.
- A particular favorite of ours is filling up spray bottles with water and then encouraging our little ones to spray letters or pictures on the sidewalk or a wooden fence. You can also use the spray water to make a toy wash station. This was a surprise hit at our house. You can even add a tub of soapy water and more cleaning tools like toothbrushes, nail brushes, sponges, and bottle brushes and get them to scrub away.
- Set hula hoops, or draw chalk circles, on pavement or grass and throw large soaked sponges at the targets. Draw an inner circle bull’s eye for extra points.
Most importantly stay safe when letting babies and toddlers play with water.
Always keep in mind that your active, curious, and excited toddler doesn’t know water can be dangerous. Children can drown in as little as two inches of water and should never play in or with water without an adult’s undistracted and undivided supervision.
As always we encourage you to talk with your pediatrician about protecting your children from common water dangers. And stay tuned . . . next week we’re going to share our water safety facts, ideas, and tips with you.
From our families to yours,
Joana + Lauren