You already know that play is an integral part of early childhood learning and development. Add in some water and carefully selected toys, and bath time becomes a clean slate for engaging little minds through play! Check out some of our favorite bath toys that squeeze out extra fun and learning in the tub.
Creativity and Self-Expression
Bath toys that encourage early language skills and teach basic math concepts are always a win. Tub walls make the perfect blank canvas, so why not encourage creative play with a set of retractable Bath Crayons? After they write, draw, and scrawl to their heart’s content, they can enjoy the more straightforward benefits of playing with Learn™ Bath Letters and Numbers. You can also use this time to start teaching early math concepts (using cups to pour water and explore the ideas of empty and full) and science (checking to see which toys float or sink, or differentiating between warm and cold).
Cognitive Skills: Action + Reaction
Let’s dive into the cognitive development realm with toys that play on the concept of action and reaction. These bath toys are especially good for older babies and toddlers, because they help them begin to understand if/then logic. Bubble Bestie™ is the sweetest elephant bubble blower that’s child operated and child approved (don’t worry, the one-way mouthpiece prevents accidental soap ingestion!) — a fun and simple way to teach kids how actions have direct outcomes. Another brilliant addition to the bath routine is Color Buddies™. These nontoxic moisturizing bath bombs bring color to bath water and help teach little ones about cause and effect. You can extend the lesson further by combining two or more colors to create new ones.
Hand-Eye Coordination Skills
Most of Munchkin’s bath products naturally help support hand-eye coordination, and often it’s the simplest bath toys that make the biggest splash. Sharky & Pals™ is a sweet nesting toy with shark, penguin and fish characters that keep curious minds engaged while building essential hand-eye coordination skills. ColorMix Fish™ can also help develop this skill – kids take the color-changing bath toys apart and mix and match pieces to create their own.
Fine Motor Skills
Did you know squeezable bath toys have a very specific benefit for little hands? In addition to being impossibly fun, squirting bath toys help develop fine motor skills, and Munchkin has lots of adorable Bath Squirts that fit the bill. Fine motor skills refer to the proper use of small hand muscles, and practicing these skills eventually helps little ones hold pencils or crayons, use safety scissors, and play with handheld toys.
Auditory and Gross Motor Skills
Music can positively impact creative, cognitive, and emotional development in young babies and kids. Not only that, but bathtubs seem to provide an especially good echo chamber (sorry, mom!). Musical bath toys provide a fun way to make new sounds and explore cause and effect. Little drummers can learn to the beat of their own drums with the 3-in-1 Octodrum™, which encourages musical exploration through imaginative play. And the colorful Dingray™ xylophone helps them practice the hand-eye coordination and gross motor skills needed to lift and tap the mallet and make music in the bath.
Problem Solving Through Game Play
One of the biggest benefits of game play of any kind is the honing of two essential life skills: patience and problem solving. Bath games that also encourage hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills are a slam dunk in our book. The Catch & Score Hoop™ doubles as a basketball hoop and toy catcher, while the classic Fishin’ Bath Toy comes with a magnetic fishing rod and underwater bobbers. Up for even more fun and games? Little ones love the floating Arctic™ Polar Bear Bath Toy, which multitasks as a ring toss and stacking game in one.
Social Emotional Development
As much as we love developmentally appropriate bath toys, we’d be remiss not to mention at least one learning opportunity that doesn’t necessarily require them. Since bath time is a predictable activity, you can use it as a tool to start building language and emotional skills. Toddlers in particular thrive on knowing what comes next, because it helps them regulate larger-than-life feelings. Try narrating everything you’re doing in the bath to help build vocabulary and confidence in what to expect: “First, we wet hair. Then, we make bubbles. And then, we play.” Learning can be as simple as that.
Bath time has obvious benefits for babies and toddlers. Not only does it create an opportunity for uninterrupted bonding time, it’s a predictable (and hopefully relaxing!) routine to signal the transition to bed. But getting clean, having fun, and learning at the same time? That might be our favorite part of all.