Has your toddler been hit by a case of the bathtime blues? Does your baby scream throughout every bath?
You’re not alone. We’ve been there! Bathtime isn’t always easy — for our babies or us moms. But we’ll let you in on a little secret. If you can take a deep breath and commit to making bathtime fun, we’ve learned that it can be an amazing time for bonding with your child.
So it’s time to get creative.
We’ll share our kids’ favorite bathtime games and fun water activities to help you trade your bathtime battles for bubble-filled bonding.
Bathtime Games For Toddlers
These fun games for older babies and toddlers are sure to turn those frowns upside down. Try putting your own spin on them to make them unique to your family!
1. Bath Artist
My children love to paint and draw, so I finally gave in and bought some bathtub finger paints.
No, I don’t regret it. Yes, it gets messy, but the beauty of doing it in the tub is how easy it is to rinse off the color. And my toddlers were so distracted that they didn’t even notice the shampoo in their hair.
If you are feeling a little artsy, you can also buy some neon paint and a handheld UV blacklight. Let your toddler go crazy. Then switch off the lights and see the bright colors glow in the dark.
Here’s what you need:
- Bathtub finger paints.
- Paint brushes (optional).
Or, for glow-in-the-dark fun:
Go crazy with the paintings, using brushes or fingers. Try writing the alphabet or numbers. Write your children’s names on the tiled walls.
2. Color Bath
What do toddlers love? Colors! So why not incorporate them into bathtime?
Here’s what you need:
- Toys or other fun items in one specific color.
- Food coloring or liquid watercolor paint in any color of your choice (optional).
Pick a color theme and gather a bunch of matching toys, or let your toddler choose. Add to the fun by initiating a scavenger hunt, asking your toddler to find only the items of one color.
Meanwhile, fill up the bathtub, and add some drops of coloring (optional).
Food coloring can temporarily dye the skin, but as long as you only add two to three drops, the water will dilute it enough that your little one’s skin won’t absorb it.
While in the bath, sing some songs or make up stories about the chosen color. It could be a favorite that reminds them of a specific event or character. I know my child’s favorite color is red because it’s the color of SpiderMan.
3. Foam It Up!
This is one of my personal favorites. My youngest used to hate bathtime until we discovered the tantrum-reducing powers of foam.
It is so easy to make. Here’s what you need:
- Bubble bath, baby body wash, or shampoo (use tearless).
- Food coloring or liquid watercolor paint (optional).
- Hand mixer or blender.
- A couple of (colorful) bowls.
Add about a quarter cup of water to a tablespoon of bubble bath solution and whip it up using the hand mixer or blender.
Once the solution has some firm peaks (think stiffened egg whites), divide the mixture into bowls, adding a few drops of color in each. I like to use three different colors, so as the foam disappears, it leaves an explosion of color in the bathtub.
First, have your child play with the foam in the empty bathtub. Let them make foam beards, hats, or even a foamed pink latte for mommy. Then begin filling the tub with water after about ten minutes, or once the foam starts to disappear. Your little one will end up with a super colorful bubble bath.
4. Spell It Out
Toddlers love to learn — their brains are thirsty for knowledge. So what better way to teach them than by combining alphabet or number awareness with bathtime? All you need are foam letters or numbers.
Fill the tub, and arrange the letters. You can sing the alphabet song, stick the letters to the tiled wall or the side of the bathtub, spell different words, or use the numbers to count. See if your little one can find a particular letter or number.
Foam toys make the best bath toys because the water doesn’t get moldy inside them! They don’t collect any water at all.
Editor's Note:Katelyn Holt RN, BSN, BC
5. Spray Bottle and Targets
Spray bottles are fun, especially since they are usually a big no-no for toddlers due to their contents (cleaning supplies, etc.). But luckily for us, we can buy them new and empty.
Here’s what you need:
- Coffee filters.
- Double stick tape.
- Clean, empty spray bottle.
- Bathtub letters.
Wet the letters so they stick to the wall. Then grab a coffee filter and flatten it before taping it over the letter. Fill the spray bottle, and you’re ready to go.
The idea of this game is to hide the letters behind the coffee filters. Then as your toddler squirts some water, they reveal them. Let them imagine they’re on a mission to find a specific letter or number.
This game is an excellent way to get a head start on the alphabet. Even older siblings can join in! You can spell out secret codes or words and have them try to guess the word before all the letters are revealed.
6. Name That Body Part
This is an inventive game with no requirements other than a washcloth and soap. Ask your toddler to name different body parts and then proceed to clean them.
You can also ask where their nose is and let them clean it. Or ask, “Where is your big toe?” then scrub it clean.
To add to the excitement, why not sing the “head and shoulders” song? Then ask them to clean their head, shoulders, knees, and toes. This is a simple way to learn the names of different body parts while getting clean.
7. “I Spy”
“I Spy” is usually a favorite game to pass the time on a long road trip. With older children, you would traditionally give them an initial letter to find. But with toddlers, it’s easier and more educational to learn the names of items.
There are also plenty of options in the bathroom for this game. Kids can locate the soap, shampoo, sink, and more. As your toddler finds the shampoo, you can wash their hair, and when they see the washcloth, you clean their body.
The last thing to “spy” could be the towel, and before you know it, your little dirt magnet is spick and span again, without a teardrop in sight!
Bathtime Games for Babies
Babies love to hear your voice, and many feel soothed by singing. Since bathtime can be uncomfortable for some, hearing your voice chanting a familiar nursery rhyme will likely calm them.
There are many options for bathtime rhymes; you can even make up your own. The main point is your soothing voice making your baby relax and maybe even giggle. Our current favorite is the “Baby Shark” song. I get plenty of giggles when we sing this one!
2. Puppet Show Starring Mommy
Buy yourself a soft, brightly colored character washcloth, and get creative with different voices and sounds.
Babies begin to see colors clearly by about five months. As they grow, you can encourage them to make up their own stories, even name the characters. You can also incorporate some songs and play out the lyrics.
You can easily get creative with different sizes of wands. Get yourself a few party bubbles or even a bubble maker if you like to go crazy.
Your little one will enjoy watching the bubbles hover above their head. As they grow, you can teach them to blow the bubbles on their own. You’ll probably find daddy joining in too!
4. Bathtime Peek-A-Boo
Peek-a-boo is a classic game parents have probably played since the dawn of time. It is an audio-sensory experience sure to delight your little one.
Peek-a-boo doesn’t just involve hiding your face. You can also cover your little one’s tummy or tiny toes while you wash them. Then reveal them with a “boo!”
5. Stimulate The Senses
Young babies require sensory stimulation for emotional and physical development (2). And there are plenty of textures for your baby to experience in the tub, from soft and hard sponges to washcloths and slippery soap.
As your little one relaxes in their bath, let them touch the different objects. Stroke their hands with a dry towel, then a wet one.
Later, when they begin to grab onto things, they can hold their toys. You can even hand them a baby mirror to watch themselves while touching the smooth surface of the plastic.