Baby Sensory Play: Water

Next in our Baby Sensory Play series are the wonderful, limitless possibilities of water play! 

Every experience for baby is a new one and filled with amazing opportunities to learn about how things work, cause and effect, relationships between people and objects and what things can do. This is why babies investigate their whole new world using their senses as their main tool for discovery, as just about everything needs to be touched and tasted to be truly understood!

Babies and toddlers are particularly drawn to water, not only because of the familiarity of their womb environment, but also because of the calming effects it can have, as well as being one of the most exciting materials to explore on the face of the planet!

Just think about how incredible it is as a play substance. It can be held, thrown, sprayed, dripped, trickled, poured, swooshed, soaked, absorbed, sprinkled, coloured, scented, funnelled, spun, frozen, melted evaporated and, best of all, SPLASHED! It’s a great way for discovering about temperatures, capacity, gravity, water ways, dams, filling and emptying and more.

For a baby who is newly discovering their amazing world, this is the most incredible thing ever!

 When baby is in the bath, try using either a reclining chair or a fixed upright bath seat so that they can safely splash (and be splashed!) with their head way above the water. Use funnels, colanders, bottles and cups to pour water on and around your baby, trickling water up and down their arms to increase awareness of their own body and to encourage visual co-ordination as they track the stream with their eyes. Use a sponge to gently squeeze water onto their face and on top of their head, so that it trickles down across their eyes (no soap in this water, of course!) It is important for young children to get used to having water near their faces and not to panic when it happens, as this helps them later when learning to swim and stay safe in water.
When baby is old enough to sit in high chair, offer them a shallow tray of warm water to simply investigate with their hands! Bean absolutely loved this coloured water we gave her to explore the other day and the looks of curiosity and amazement on her face as she played were priceless. She babbled, laughed and happily played for a sustained amount of time, increasing her concentration and learning a lot of new things about the world as she did so!
EYFS Learning Links: (birth-11 months)
  • sensory: investigate and discover the world using all of the senses, as appropriate
  • phse: respond to differences in their environment e.g. showing interest or excitement
  • maths: develop an awareness of shape, form and texture as they encounter people and things in their environment
  • physical: use movement and senses to focus on, reach for and handle objects, use movement and sensory exploration to link up with their immediate environment, reach out for and touch objects
  • knowledge and understanding: anticipate repeated sounds, sights and actions
Bean: 6 months

Have you introduced your baby to water yet? What did they make of it?


  1. says

    We definitely have two water babies! If ever in doubt, add water! :) Swimming and water safety is so ingrained in us Aussies, maybe because of all our lovely warm weather. Gently tipping water over our babies’ faces is one of the first lessons we are encouraged to do with our babies. LOVE playing with water :)

  2. Marie says

    I was wondering the same thing! I have a baby who’s curiosity would extend to what was underneath the bowl of water as well as splashing with the water itself! Our highchair has a tray which I think I could put the water into directly so I think I’ll give that a go. I’m sure my little girl will love it, it looks a lot of fun :)

  3. says

    My baby boy loves the bath, much more tgan his big brother ever has. Funnily enough one of my tasks this afternoon is to pick up some food colouring for tonight’s bath :-)

  4. says

    We introduced water play with a table my mother bought baby for his birthday, since then every cup of water is spilt onto the Highchair tray and splashed!!! He loves water! This is a good idea, how did you colour the water? I’d worry about staining what ever the water gets splashed on.


  5. says

    Gorgeous pics. A fun way that we do water play with baby is like you, in the highchair tray, but try with some milk bottle lids as well. They float and zip around and are great for baby to track and grab.

  6. Anonymous says

    I love, love, love that I was told by a friend to look at your ideas! I had my first baby 3 months ago and although so she was so incredibly planned for and wanted I am the most baby retarded person ever! I had no idea what to do with her and the 5 million toys we’ve bought or been given. For now she just likes to be read to and watch her mobile but thanks to here I now have ideas and somewhere to reference! I love Bean’s play space and I cannot wait to do fun water play at the end of summer when she will be about 5 or 6 months. Thank you so much!