Let me begin by saying that bath time is a great time to “play” with your kids. It is common sense not to leave them in the tub alone, without supervision of some kind. But, if you are willing to play with them while they are in the tub, it makes for even more fun. That being said, there are lots of marketing specialists who will tell you that your kid needs this toy or that toy in the bathtub to enhance their tub time and make them smarter. Wrong. There are plenty of things around the house you can use to make bath time fun without spending any additional money.
1. Plastic spoons
Add ladles, plastic mixing spoons, plastic eating spoons and plastic slotted spoons to the bath to “scoop” water or bubbles from one place to another. Use them to pour the water from up high or stir up the bubbles in a big “pot” of soup. Use them to lay out in the water or on the side to make shapes or letters. If you are up for it, they also make a great “splashing” tool.
2. Plastic measuring cups
This is your opportunity to talk about bigger and smaller. This cup is bigger and holds more water versus this cup which is smaller and doesn’t hold as much. Use them to pour, dip, and stack for fun.
3. Need bubbles? Add an eco-friendly dish soap.
I love using a little natural dish soap. It is so versatile. It does not take more than a few drops to add bubbles to a bath. Plus, it is gentle enough on kids’ skin to not cause problems (at least with my kids it has worked). Other brands will work, too. Plus, then you have the stuff in the bathtub already to do a quick clean when the kids are finished.
Bubbles are great for scooping and even building. Build mounds of bubbles. Use them to create soups and stews and all kinds of imaginary wonders. Plus, bubbles make great mustaches, beards and “clothing” to cover certain areas for photo opportunities.
Your kids will be tempted to use them to drink the bathwater. While I don’t recommend it, it happens. However, it can be more fun to show them how to BLOW with them. Create ripples in the water, blow bubbles into mountains, create hurricanes and depressions. It can be all kinds of fun…once you convince them not to drink the water.
This again offers the opportunity for learning. Did you know that water circles the funnel going one direction in the Northern Hemisphere and the opposite direction in the Southern Hemisphere? Plus, you can talk about making things overflow.
Washcloths can become hiding places for objects, capes for superheros and hats for already wet kids. Make them floating islands for bubble mountains. You can even use them to dress up your rubber ducky. Plus, if you want to take photos, a precisely placed washcloth makes it possible to take pictures that the kids won’t hate you for when you show them at their high school graduation party.
7. Plastic cups
These are the best for stacking into towers, counting and filling to talk about fractions. (“This one is half full, this one is 1/3rd full, etc.”) Plus, you can use them to rinse the kid off when you are finished playing in the bubbles or washing their hair. Put an object in a cup, cover it with a washcloth and ask them to guess what is in the cup. We have gotten plastic cups as birthday party favors (like the orange one above), so save these for the bathtub. You can use anything from yogurt cups to clean Starbucks cups. Cups can be all sorts of fun!
8. Plastic plates
Similar to washcloths, plates can be floating islands to hold all kinds of things. Fill them up and watch them sink. Or, use them as fans to blow the bubble mountains from one end of the bathtub to the other. Use them to play peekaboo or hide and seek with small objects.
9. Shape sorters
My shape sorter is as old as I am, but it is plastic and has no open places that could collect water that would later not escape and make a huge mildewy mess. Because it is this way, it is a fun treat to add to the bathtub for something different or unusual. Drop the shapes into the water, under the bubbles for the kids to search and find.
10. Rubber ducky
I have not been to a baby shower where someone did NOT receive at least one rubber ducky. Ducks make great conversationalists (in Mommy or Daddy’s best quacky voice). Plus, they love to play in the bubbles, play hide and seek or become super duck on go on rescue adventures in the tub.
One trick to avoiding mildew build-up in your duck is to be sure to get as much of the water as possible out of it at the end of the bath. Then, have it suck up some rubbing alcohol or bleach water. Shake it around and then store it so the hole in the bottom faces up. If you are not opposed destruction, and don’t mind losing the quack, cut the hole in the bottom a little bigger (or cut an X in it) to make draining it easier. I have also heard you can use hot glue to seal the hole so that no water gets in.
11. Plastic Toys
My kids have so many little plastic toys. Every time they go to the dentist or doctor, they pick out some little plastic bugs, dinosaurs, and more. They win them as prizes. They get them as party favors. We have them all over the house. These are great for the tub because they don’t hold water, and it adds another fun element to the bath. Unlike a lot of our floating toys, plastic ponies and bugs sink to the bottom. Great way to use these instead of tossing them in the trash out of frustration!
Be sure that your items are safe for your little ones, and are not broken, too small (choking hazard), etc. And be sure to have good bath toy storage.
I hope this adds some fun to your bath time adventures. Happy playing!