Summer fun isn’t just for the big kids. Water play is a fun, relaxing and excellent sensory play experience for babies.
If you’ve got a baby >4 months with good head control, try taking play outside with some tummy time in the great outdoors with a water play activity.
With Oliver being a December baby, keeping our small infant cool this last summer was my personal mission a great deal of the time. It felt like a balancing act of not wanting him to get too cold (because he was tiny and not capable of regulating his own temperature yet) but avoiding running too warm.
That’s where water play comes in, because even if their wrists and hands are the only thing getting wet – these pressure points are quick cooling spots. Try running your wrists under cool running water the next time you feel yourself boiling over.
For the summer babes out there, it’s a bonza way to keep your little one cool and put some new motor skills to work. If baby isn’t sitting unassisted yet, but has good head control (this is essential) then try this out. If baby is sitting assisted, I have some more advanced (read: messier) water play ideas here.
WHAT YOU NEED
- A play mat (a good waterproof one works well – I use this leather one by Gathre) or a towel
- A tummy time pillow
- A tray or low profile bucket of water
- Things to float (such as sponges, sticks, flowers and leaves or sensory balls – nature is free!)
- Sun protection (hat, shade, sunscreen if old enough)
⚠️ Babies and children should always be under adult supervision when playing near water – any amount of water.
WHAT TO DO
Pop baby on tummy time pillow so they can reach into the water. They can just be left to play with the water as is if you like. Adding things such as sponges and leaves makes it a bit more exciting but ripples and their own hand are often more than enough.
You’ll be surprised at how long this activity captures their little attention spans.
WHAT THEY’RE DEVELOPING
- Hand eye coordination
- Finer hand movements
- Grasp (palmar to pincer grasp)
- Head and neck control
- Muscle and skeletal development and strengthening
- Cause and effect
- Introduction to STEM concepts such as weight, floating and ripples
- Builds focus and attention span
- Independence in play
MAKE IT MONTESSORI
Turn it into a practical life activity, such as doll washing or whisking up bubbles using dish soap. By making the activity goal oriented, you can make it Montessori.