Although it’s not a magic pill to cure grumpy little munchkins, it seems to calm them very quickly. It makes sense, if you think about it: remember how you feel at the beach, or on a boat? Zen gardens have running water through them, water features are popular for their calming qualities, beauty spas have relaxation pools and play waterfall-type sounds to help relax clients, and so on. Why would our children react any differently than we do?
There are so many ways to introduce your tot to water play. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Let your kids help you water the garden; give them their own little watering can, if possible
- If you don’t have access to a paddling pool, or if weather is inclement, run the water in the bathtub, put your bubs in their bathers and have ‘indoor pool’ playtime
- When Eden was about nine months old onwards, I used to lay some towels on the tiled area of our home and fill a shallow tub with lukewarm water. I laid out rubber duckies, funnels, small containers, sieves, small jugs, etc for her to play with.
- When she got a bit older, I set the area up in the same way, but gave her a plastic doll, washcloth, empty bottles of shampoo/conditioner and a spare towel, so she could bathe the doll. If your child's doll has hair, add a comb. This is a great one to incorporate a bit of role play.
- On a day to day basis, if you need to fill a sink or the bath, let your child hold their hands under the running water.
- I love letting Eden "do the dishes". I just fill my sink with water and a squirt of detergent, set out a sponge, a bottle brush, a chux cloth and steel wool, and throw a few plastic plates and spoons, a sieve, tongs, wooden spoons, etc, into the sink. She stands on a stool, and washes, and re-washes, and re-washes again, and when she's eventually done she has pruney hands and a big smile on her face. Tip: don't include plastic bowls or cups unless you're keen to see how much water can end up on either your child or the floor. I speak from experience.
- For babies, take advantage of any time you have an extra pair of hands helping you, to make their bath time a bit more interesting. You could use a shaker from your kitchen (or something else with lots of holes) to pour water over bub's tummy. You could teach them to pour with a little container, or splash with their feet (a pain to clean up, but great for teaching cause and effect, and very fun for your little one). Experiment with props to see what your baby enjoys.
- Lay some towels on the floor (or do this outside) and fill a shallow, wide tub with warm water. Let your littlie stand and splash around in their undies or nappy, holding your hands to keep their balance.
If you incorporate water play into your child's day, you're providing them with an outlet for their emotional frustrations and I reckon you'll begin to see a real difference. Let me know what you think! ~ L.