Is your toddler hit by a case of the bath time blues? Does your baby scream throughout every bath? Well, you’re not alone. Bath time isn’t always easy — for your baby or you.
For babies, the coldness of undressing might cause distress. Whereas the transition from the kid’s tub to the big tub, or shower, can be intimidating for a toddler.
So, it’s time to get creative. Bath time is great for bonding — exclusive mommy and me time, where you two can get as crazy as you like. There are plenty of games to play or songs to sing and you can even make up your own songs and stories — I do!
But if you need some inspiration (as we all sometimes do), below are a few bath time games you can try.
Bath Time Games For Toddlers
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. Plus, my toddlers were so distracted, 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 the alphabet or numbers. Write their names on the tiled walls.
2. Color Bath
What do toddlers love? Colors! They are likely already learning about them in preschool, so why not incorporate them into bath time?
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, for example, only red items.
Meanwhile, fill up the bathtub and add some drops of coloring (optional).
Some parents, and toddlers, may be uncomfortable using food coloring as it can temporarily dye the skin. But as long as you only add two to three drops, the water will dilute it and it should easily wash off with soapy water.
While in the bath, sing some songs, or make up stories, about the chosen color. It could be a favorite which reminds them of a specific event or character. I know my child’s favorite is red, because it’s the color of SpiderMan.
3. Foam It Up!
I love this one. My youngest used to hate bath time until we discovered the tantrum-reducing powers of foam.
It is so easy to make. Here’s what you need:
- Bubble bath, or baby body wash or shampoo (use tearless).
- Food coloring or liquid watercolor paint (optional).
- Hand mixer.
- A couple of (colorful) bowls.
Start by whipping up the foam — think whipped cream. Add about a quarter cup water to a tablespoon of bubble bath solution, and thicken using the hand mixer.
Once you’ve created some firm peaks, divide the mixture into desired 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, play in the empty bathtub. Let your toddler make foam beards, hats, or even a foamed pink latte for mommy. Then, begin filling with water after about ten minutes, once the foam starts to disappear.
4. Spell It Out
Toddlers love to learn — their brains are thirsty for knowledge. So, what better way to teach them than combining learning the alphabet with bath time? 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 certain 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 & Targets
Spray bottles are fun, especially since most of the time, they are a big no-no for toddlers due to their contents. But luckily for us, we can buy them new and empty now.
Here’s what you need:
- Coffee filters.
- Double stick tape.
- 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 the older siblings can join in! You can spell out secret codes or words, and they have to 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, “Where is your big toe?” then scrub it clean.
To add to the excitement, why not sing the “heads and shoulders” song? After, ask them to clean their head, then shoulders, knees, and toes. This is a simple way to learn the names of different body parts.
7. “I Spy”
“I Spy” is usually a great way 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.
Fortunately, 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, for example, 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!
Bath Time Games for Babies
Babies love to hear your voice, and many feel soothed by singing. Since bath time can be uncomfortable for some, hearing your voice chanting a familiar nursery rhyme will likely calm them down.
There are many options for bath time rhymes; you can even make up your own. The main point is your soothing voice making your baby relax, and maybe even giggle. One current favorite is the “Baby Shark” song and my kids certainly giggle when I start singing!
2. Puppet Show, Starring Mommy
Buy yourself a character washcloth and get creative with different voices and sounds.
Choose a soft, brightly-colored washcloth.
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 size 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 have daddy joining in, too!
4. Bath Time Peek-A-Boo
Peek-a-boo is a classic 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 their tummy or tiny toes while you wash them. Then reveal them with a “boo!”
5. Stimulate The Senses
In the tub, there are plenty of textures to feel, from soft and hard sponges to washcloths and slippery soap. As your little one relaxes in their tub, let them touch the different objects. Stroke their hands with a dry towel, then a wet one.
Later, when they begin to grab, they can hold their toys. You can even hand them a baby mirror to watch themselves while touching the smooth surface of the plastic. Small babies require sensory stimulation for emotional and physical development.
Combat Bath Time Blues
As any mom knows, bath time is not always as enjoyable or relaxing as we would like it to be. Still, with a little imagination, toys, and some games to play, it can become your little one’s new favorite time of day.
As babies get a little older, more visual or physical stimulation will help them enjoy bath time.
Toddlers, on the other hand, like a bit more action.