The Ultimate Guide to Outdoor Water Play for Babies

a boy in a baby pool splashing, with toys around him, outdoor water play for babies Shutterstock

Keep baby cool and entertained this summer with sweet outdoor water play ideas they’ll love

When it comes to water play with babies, it’s easy to fall back on tub time. What’s not to love about bubble parties, paint parties, and letting your little one play with their favorite bath toys in a totally contained environment? It’s an easy way to keep kids cool (and clean) on a hot summer day. But it’s time to think outside the tub and head outdoors for some creative water play with your little fish. Whether your child is scooting, crawling, cruising, or still working on tummy time, there are activities in this guide for them to enjoy. Just remember, splashing (and parental supervision) are required.

Water Painting

No Time for Flash Cards

Kids painting with no mess? Yes, please! Fill a tray with water, grab some brushes and sponges, and put your budding artist to work painting deckboards, rocks, driveway or walls. Allison at No Time for Flash Cards suggests introducing different painting tools when attention starts to the drift. Head over to her blog for more playtime tips.

DIY Car Wash

Design Mom

Upgrade from sprinklers by building your little one through their very own car wash. Perfect for early walkers, they’ll love pushing their favorite “vehicle” through the water. Plus, you’re guaranteed some adorable photo opps. Visit Design Mom for a list of materials and assembly instructions.

Tummy Time with Water

Messy Motherhood

A little water transforms tummy time into a full-body sensory experience. Expect lots of giggles as your little one moves the water around and discovers the cause and effect of splashing. Check out how the resourceful mom over at Messy Motherhood set up this splash-tastic activity with items from around the house.

Giant Frog Pond

Asia Citro via Fun at Home with Kids

This giant frog pond provided hours of excitement for the tiny tadpoles over at Fun at Home with Kids. Hop over to the blog for instructions and sources for creating your own pond world.

Five Little Ducks Sensory Tub

The Imagination Tree

Attention, mama ducks! Adding an aquatic element to the classic children’s story, even the littlest ducklings will love taking the rubber ducks in and out of the bucket or tub as you sing the song. It’s a great way to work on numbers, counting and music. Set the scene with instructions from The Imagination Tree.

Kiddie Pool Play

Learn Play Imagine

Ball pit + kiddie pool = awesome! Your little one will have a ball splashing around in a kiddie pool filled with vibrantly colored plastic balls. Allison at Learn Play Imagine set up the pool for her 13-month-old twins, who loved tossing the balls out onto the grass.

Baby Waterbed

Meri Cherry

A mini version of the popular water blob, these colorful “waterbeds” are perfectly sized for baby play. Great alone or when filled with bouncy balls and other objects, your little one will love pushing the water around inside. Visit Meri Cherry to learn how to make your own.

Water Scooping

Tinker Lab

Just water, a bucket and colorful scooping tools can keep baby busy for a good long while. Using measuring cups, they'll practice how to pour, empty and fill and will be captivated from start to finish. Get tips for play from Tinker Lab.

Tray Play

The Imagination Tree

Does your baby like water? Do you have a high chair or a baby plate with a suctioned bottom? Then you have everything it takes to try this. Babies will splash, trickle, pour and go wild with just a little bit of water. Add a blast of color using food coloring to keep things interesting. Find out more from The Imagination Tree.

Gelatin Bath

Growing a Jeweled Rose

When you put blue Jell-) in the bathtub (try four boxes' worth, spread evenly on the bathtub floor), you get an awesome ocean adventure. Add plastic fish, boats and duckies to keep with the theme. Learn more from the master of creative play at Fantastic Fun and Learning.

Bowls of Bubbles

The Imagination Tree

Sometimes the best toys are right in your kitchen cabinet. Anna at The Imagination Tree grabbed some measuring cubs, plastic bowls and dish soap and headed outside with her child for some bubbly fun. Her little one loved transferring the sudsy water from one container to another.

Cubes on a String

Dukes & Duchesses

Are you familiar with soap on a rope? Make an ice cube version of it by placing a piece of yarn throughout your ice cube tray and freezing colored cubes of water. The coolest part? The ice cubes, being attached, won’t slip away from your baby. Get the details from Dukes & Duchesses.

Rainbow Bath

Growing a Jeweled Rose

Babies love water and bubbles so why not combine the two? The blogger mama at Growing A Jeweled Rose throws food coloring and bubble bath colors in the sink for colorful water play.

Small Bowl, Big Fun

Childhood 101

A plastic bowl and a few baby-safe items are great for water play. Just a little bit of water is all you'll need, along with a few simple items such as large smooth rocks, spoons and cups. This activity guarantees a wet baby so it's best on warm, sunny days. For more on this simple but effective experience, check out Childhood 101.

Baby-Safe Water Beads

Fun at Home with Kids

Water beads for baby? Yes, provided you make these mini, edible water beads. Follow this tutorial from Asia at Fun At Home with Kids. With just basil seeds, food coloring and water, you’ll be on your way.

A Simple Sprinkler

MI PHAM via Unsplash

One of the easiest ways to let wee ones get some water action is turning on a sprinkler in the yard, set on low, of course. Any sprinkler head will do the job, but a kid-friendly one will add a little something extra to playtime.

Additional reporting by Gabby Cullen



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