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Easy Water Play Activities for Babies and Toddlers

Water play is an excellent way to cool down in the hot summer months and has many developmental benefits for your child!

Playing with water is a sensory experience that helps your child expand their motor skills, hand-eye coordination, social skills, and concentration.

This summer, we’ll be sharing tons of water activities on this page, updating it in the coming weeks. We’re starting with four ways babies can have fun with water. Read on!

Introducing Babies to Water Play

Tummy Time with Water

Although it can get messy, introducing a tray of water during tummy time is a great way to get your babies comfortable with water play! Lay a large towel down on a flat surface outside and place a cooking tray filled with water on the towel. Set up your baby within arms reach of the water and let them explore the way the cool water feels on their hands. This is also a great way to introduce your little one to the cause and effect of splashing!

Water Bottle Play

A simple and easy way to introduce your 6-month-old to the properties of water is to fill a clear plastic water bottle a quarter of the way up with dyed water. Your baby will love to watch as the water swirls around according to the way they move the bottle. Another fun way to do this is to fill the bottle up with water and glitter and let them watch as the glitter swirls and moves with the water. It’s so simple but they will love it!

Sprinkler Play

A classic way to introduce your little one to water play! Turn on your sprinkler (make sure it’s at the lowest setting) or the shower setting of your hose and place your baby close to the stream. They will enjoy the new sensation of the water hitting them and might even try to reach out and grab a few droplets!

Kiddie Pool Play

Once your baby can sit up, you can place them into a tub of water (kiddie pool, sink, bathtub, etc.) and provide them with any objects they find enticing. A few examples include colored balls, rubber ducks, plastic frogs, and toy boats. The pool becomes a “sit-in” sensory bin as they splash around and play with the toys.

Baby doing water play in a bucket

Toddler Activities: Manipulating Water

Once your little one can walk confidently, their ability to use both hands to accomplish more complex tasks will ramp up.

What you’ll notice

A baby will use one hand to try to accomplish a task, such as dumping a toy out of a basket. A toddler will coordinate two hands, each doing something different, for example, holding the base of an object steady in order to adjust a moving part. Water play is a great way for toddlers to practice those fine motor skills and observe cause and effect. Plus, it’s fun!

The Monti Kids Program is an at-home curriculum that supports parents as their little ones develop. It teaches you what to notice and includes developmentally appropriate activities so that you can enjoy every Magic Milestone — even the ones you’ve never thought about!

Pouring Water

This activity is simple: gather several clear cups and a small pitcher. Model how to pour and give your child practice. 

Level it up! For a child who can pour well, place a line of tape around each cup. Invite your little one to pour water into each cup until the water reaches the line. To make the activity easier, you can dye the water a bright color to make the distinction against the glass easier to see. 

Squeezing Water

One of the best ways to practice fine motor skills with water play is to have your child use basters. Basters with a large bulb will fit perfectly into the hand of a 2-3 year old, and provide ample opportunity for your toddler to strengthen their muscles and motor coordination. Toddlers will enjoy observing how the water moves in and out of the baster.

Spraying Water

Use painter’s tape to create a target on the side of your house or garage door. Hand your toddler a spray bottle filled with water and invite them to spray at the tape. Make observations to introduce them to the shapes you’ve made with the tape. “You’re spraying the X!” or “The blue line is wet. I can see it dripping.”

{Get more ideas for water play from Learning For Littles.}

Water Play Activity for Toddlers
A spray bottle and painter's tape make a great toddler activity!

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