Are you looking for ways to keep your toddler entertained? Water play is always at the top of my list! Why? First of all, pretty much every child ever in existence loves playing with water. Splashing and make a mess is just peak toddler playtime, am I right? But did you know that water play is also an excellent way for children to learn and develop important skills, including hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, and sensory exploration? For parents looking for fun and engaging water play ideas for their little ones, I have compiled a list of the best indoor water toys for toddlers.
Normally, it’s easiest to do water play outside, but that’s not always an option! Sure, in nice weather, if you have a great yard, outdoor play makes sense. But sometimes mom or dad needs to be inside, sometimes it’s just too hot in the summer (depending on your location), or sometimes it’s winter and you’re at your wits end trying to keep your toddler entertained, but you know water is always a winning idea. Whatever the reason, you’ll get a handful of indoor water play ideas
for toddlers by the time you’re done with this post.
One more thing: I’m not just including indoor water toys you can buy. I’m also including toys and activities that can be made from stuff you already have around the house so if you need something to do right now, or you don’t have the budget (or space) for more stuff, you can still keep those toddler hands busy with water play. So grab some towels and let’s dive in!
Best Indoor Water Toys for Toddlers
Indoor water play usually gets to be a little less messy. So if you want something a little more structured or controlled, you might want to buy some dedicated indoor water toys for toddlers. Here are some of the best water toys that you can buy for your toddler that can be used inside:
Color Changing Kitchen Sink Toy
If you’re not quite ready to let your little one play with dishes in the real sink, this is a super fun water toy! It provides a fun way for kids to play with water and be in awe of the color-changing diesh. It encourages imaginative play, helps improve hand-eye coordination and organization skills. This toy is a great to provide toddlers with a safe playtime activity that can help with future life skills.
Most people would only buy a water table for outside, but as long as you have a safe place to put this inside and can put down some towels, it should be able to keep it under control with a minimal amount of water. There are so many options to choose from, but this one is my favorite because it’s compact.
A fishing toy that can be played with either in the bath, or in a plastic tub/bin, is an excellent way for toddlers to practice fine motor skills and coordination. It can teach them how to catch, hold, and manipulate small objects and encourages imaginative play. This is a simple, minimal option or you can go with this set comes with 2 finish rods if you have multiple kids.
A sensory table is a great way for toddlers to explore and learn about different textures, colors, and smells in a contained environment. You can fill the sensory bins it with water, rice, glitter and all sorts of other materials. It provides an easy way to keep them entertained while still learning at the same time!
Bath crayons are a great way to turn bath time into a fun activity! But you could also set your toddler up with a small plastic bin of water to draw in if bath time isn’t an option. They’re easy to use and can help toddlers practice learning colors and drawing. Plus, they’re really inexpensive and are perfect for using in the shower or bath tub. I like these because they’re made with beeswax so they’re non-toxic and unscented.
Water Toys & Activities Using What You Have
As a mom who is all about simplifying and minimizing clutter, I know that accumulating too many toys can be overwhelming. Not to mention expensive! Fortunately, water play doesn’t have to involve expensive toys or equipment. You can make some fun and engaging water toys right at home with items you probably already have. Here are some easy DIY water toy ideas to try today:
Indoor Splash Bin
This works best if you have tile or a large plastic table cloth, etc to put down in case the splashing gets out of hand. Grab a plastic container, such as a storage bin or small kiddie pool, and fill it with a few inches of water. Toss in small toys, like rubber ducks or plastic fish, for your little one to splash around and play with. For an added sensory experience, you can even add some colored water or ice cubes. Keep towels on hand because this one can get a little messy, but is so worth it!
Wax Paper Boats
Cut out small squares of wax paper and fold them into boats. Fill a shallow container with water and let your child race their boats across the water. You can also hand them a straw to try and blow the boats across the water like sailboats.
Ice Block Dig Out
Use a large container and fill it with water and some toys. Throw it in the freezer and check the next day to see if it’s frozen all the way through. Put it in a plastic bin or even in the tub and hand your toddler some “tools” like paint brushes, spoons, etc to dig out the treasures you hid inside. This is one that will entertain them for quite a while as the block melts.
Animal Bathing Station
This one was one of my sons favorite water play activities when he was little. I would just set him up in the tub with a tub of bubbly water, a washcloth, and a handful of his plastic toy animals. He would have a blast washing each one off and making sure they were squeaky clean.
What better way to teach your kids how to wash dishes for the future than to let them play washing dishes. As long as you have a safe way for them to get up to the sink, you can throw in a couple of non-breakable plates, bowls, utensils, etc. and let them “wash dishes”. My daughter loved doing this, and at 5 she often actually washes the dishes (voluntarily) and does a great job.
If all else fails, throw them in the tub! It’s a simple way to get some water play in and end with a quick bath, if you want. Fun and efficient, right? Of course, you’ll need to be able to keep a close eye on them so this only works if you’re not busy or you have something to do in the bathroom. But just filling up the tub and giving them some common household items that they don’t usually have in the bath can make it a fun activity.
Some items that can turn into water toys:
- Clean sponges
- Small cups or bowls
- Strainers or colanders
- Droppers and eye droppers
- Squirt bottles
- Cookie cutters
- Old measuring cups
These are just a few quick ideas for indoor water play for toddlers. Get creative and even get some input from your little ones. Water play is so much fun and can be a great way to keep toddlers entertained (and you from going crazy!) with minimal effort, even if you don’t have a lot of room or money to spare.
If you prefer to buy some dedicated indoor water toys for toddlers, that’s ok too! Let’s talk about some of the best options…
Benefits of Water Play for Toddlers
Water play is not only fun (and keeps them distracted while you take a break or get stuff done), but it also provides so many benefits for young children in many different ways. Here are some ways water play benefits toddlers:
- Promotes Sensory Exploration: Water play engages the senses and provides young children with a multi-sensory experience. They can see the water’s different colors and textures, feel the water’s temperature and weight, hear the sound of the splashing and pouring, and even taste the water (if they’re playing in a safe and supervised environment).
- Enhances Motor Skills: Water play helps children develop gross and fine motor skills. Splashing, pouring, and playing with water toys all require gross motor skills, while activities like using a water scoop or a cup to pour water, or squeezing a sponge develop fine motor skills.
- Encourages Social Skills: Water play is often a group activity, which provides young children with opportunities to practice social skills like sharing, turn-taking, and communication.
- Provides a Fun and Safe Outlet for Energy: Water play is a great way for young children to burn off energy and release pent-up emotions in a safe and controlled environment. It’s also a great activity for parents and caregivers to do with their children, providing bonding and playtime opportunities.
Overall, water play is a beneficial and enjoyable activity for young children. Whether you’re playing with DIY toys or splurging on bought water toys, the benefits of water play are undeniable.
Indoor water play is a great way to keep your toddlers engaged and entertained, even during colder months or rainy days. Whether you choose to make your own water toys with items around the house or purchase specially designed water toys, your toddler is sure to have a blase. Don’t overthink it! So, next time you’re looking for a fun activity to do with your little one, try incorporating some water play into your routine. With a little creativity and imagination, you can provide hours of fun and learning for your child.