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5 Indoor Water Play Activities For Toddlers

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Every toddler mom knows that if you want to engage and extend play time for any activity, all you need to do is just add water.

In fact, toddlers are famous for creating their own water play activities in the least appropriate time, place and manner, e.g. purposefully spilling water when drinking, pouring a drink in a bowl with food and then trying to pour the mush back in the glass. 

Or maybe you even had to “fish” your little munchkin from the bath all dressed up, because they literally couldn’t wait to get in.

Maybe because water is natural environment where all human beings come from, or maybe because it can be experienced in so many different ways but what we surely know is that babies and toddlers are so obsessed with water play.

During hot time of the year water activities come naturally to our parent’s mind, but they’re certainly are very limited during these cold months.

But cold weather is not an obstacle to still let your toddler learn and have fun through water play.

These indoor toddlers water play activities take less than 2 minutes to set up.

And they provide your little one with sensory experience, new discoveries, natural learning opportunity and simply having fun and satisfying their need for water play

I especially love the following activities because they are actually part of particle life skills that every toddler needs but so many lack the opportunity to practice!

So, if you notice your toddler using every “unauthorized” opportunity to play with water, try one of these indoor water play ideas. 

Tips To Make Indoor Water Activities Successful

By successful I mainly mean – less messy and stress free for YOU.

  1. Set up rules in advance: e.g Water stays on the table. Give a few reminders during the activity.
  2. Line clean bath mat on the table to absorb all the spills. Ideally you’ll want to avoid this because your toddler needs to take responsibility for the mess he makes and do (try do) the clean up, but this mat is a great compromise considering how much it saves my sanity. 
  3. Use the amount of water that is just enough for play. (except for activity #3). Think of it as the amount you eventually ready to clean up.
  4. Use lukewarm water during cold months (again, except for activity  #3).
  5. When introducing this activity for the first time, model slowly what they’re supposed to do.
  6. Line the area with a big old towel or a bed sheet. However if you follow all the tips above you won’t even need one.

Indoor Water Play Ideas For Toddlers

Spraying and pouring

Set Up:

2 cups or small pitchers  – preferably metal but plastic will work too. Reason I love metal cups is because you can feel their weight, they are not so easy to flip as opposed to plastic ones and they provide new sensory experience since toddlers don’t get much of metal things in their environment.

Spray bottle filled with drinking water(!)  – trust me on this one. Eventually they’ll drink what they’ve been pouring.

2. Squeezing a sponge

Set Up:

2 containers, 1 filled with a little bit of water

A small sponge

Make sure to model the play first. If they finish up all the water you can add more along the way.

3. Transfer pouch lids with a slotted spoon

Set Up:

2 bowls, 1 filled up until 1/2 with water.

Slotted spoon or other utensil (preferably with holes). We used this set from Learning Resources.

I suggest you use regular cold tap water even during cold month.

If you use warm water your little one will be more tempted to splash around. However, do your own evaluation. If you notice your little one still splashing even with cold water, use warm water. Of course you don’t want your little one catching cold for little mess he makes.

I also find that filling the bowl up to 1/2 with water help to keep it stable. If you add just a little bit of water to make the caps float it’ll be easy to a toddle to flip it over in attempt to pour the whole thing in the other bowl. On the contrary if it’s heavy enough, there’s more chance it’ll stay in place and will be used as intended.

4. Transfer water with pippets

Set Up:

2 containers, 1 filled with water.

As an alternative you can do this in a bath tub, sink, or a hand basin. On the picture you see it done in a bidet (which I’ve set up for my little one as his personal care station. So yes, it’s 100% clean 🙂

5. Washing potatoes (or other vegetables)

Set Up: A container with a little bit of water, a mushroom brush or other small size brush that’s perfect for little hands  another container with couple of potatoes to wash. You can also add dry cloth to pat dry potatoes as they get cleaned. Ideally, you’d want to add a third, emply container to place clean potatoes in.

As always, make sure to model the activity first.

Bonus Activity – Squeeze water our of squeeze bottles.

Set Up:

A large plastic container and a couple of squeeze bottles filled with water.

I highly recommend adding muffin tin if you have it. Toddlers LOVE filling up those holes.

Make this activity even more exciting and with extra learning opportunities by making each squeeze bottle different.

Use colored water for different bottles or fill 2 bottles with a different types of liquid. For example: 1 water, 1 chickpea foam. Chickpea foam is 100% natural and taste safe and it will require much more hand muscle strength which your little one will need very soon (holding and cutting with scissors, writing etc).

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