Water Sensory Play for Babies
Updated: Jan 19
“It is life, I think, to watch the water. A man can learn so many things.” ― Nicholas Sparks
Summer is a time for fun, sun, and water! Although you can plan water activities for your baby anytime of the year, warm weather certainly makes it more fun. Although water is simple, it can provide seemingly limitless activities for babies to learn about their environment.
Here are some fun ways you can incorporate water and sensory play with your babies this summer.
Baths are usually a baby’s first experience with water and can be the easiest way to get comfortable with water. Babies get used to bath time relatively quickly, so why not add variety once your baby has mastered bath time? We prefer the reclining bath seats or anything that sits upright. By sitting up, your baby can splash, kick, play with the water more safely than the horizontal tubs. Using different objects to pour the water on your baby can help him learn and understand different sensations. Examples of this would be funnels, sponges, bottles, etc. You can drip water, pour, funnel, trickle, splash, etc. Bubbles are also a wonderful idea. Just make sure the bubbles are baby safe! The goal is to get your baby used to as many different sensations as possible.
If your baby has mastered bath time, but not quite ready for water activities that involve sitting up, cookie trays are the perfect next step. All you need is a baking sheet with a little water, and some lightweight tennis balls or rubber bouncy balls, bath toys, etc. Lay your baby facing the tray on their tummy. Not only will it strengthen little muscles by doing tummy time, but they will be distracted by also playing water sensory games! Win-win.
When your baby is old enough to sit upright in a chair on their own, this can open his world to other possibilities! Set out different tubs of water in front of him and allow his little hands to splash and play. You could even use stain-free chemical-free dyes to make multiple colors of water for your baby to look at. You can also set up different temperatures of water to explore. Be careful to not make the water too hot, of course. Putting different objects in the puddles of water is also helpful for learning. This teaches babies to see how water interacts with other objects around them. This also teaches babies what objects sink and which float. Of course, setting up outside to prevent a mess would be ideal!
Once your baby is even older, around one year of age, he or she can understand more items. Babies just love water in general, so even at this age you can stick a bowl of water in front of them and they will have fun! Adding extra objects will help them discover more. Whisks, pipettes, sponges, washcloths, measuring cups, tennis balls or ping pong balls, objects that float and objects that sink, etc. Our favorite objects for these bowls: legos! This activity is also perfect for bubbles, especially since your baby will be a little older and can play with the bubbles more.
No matter what water sensory activity you chose, your baby will love it. These activities are especially wonderful for times where you really need your baby to be distracted for awhile like family events, important phone calls, etc.
Something worth noting: always make sure you are supervising your baby with water play. Even a small amount of water can lead to injury if your child is unsupervised.
We hope you enjoyed these ideas! As always, like, share, and comment!
Jeri Ford, RN, BSN, CPN