While regular bathing is necessary to keep your little one clean, that doesn’t mean it has to be a chore. In fact, it’s the perfect place to encourage sensory play with water, since cleanup is as easy as draining the tub and drying off! Quality bath toys designed to encourage motor skills, critical thinking, and imagination are great for engaging younger kids during bath time; they’re designed to prevent waterlogging and mildew growth, and unlike most of their regular toys, bath toys won’t be damaged if submerged in water. On the lookout for the best baby bath toys? Take a peek at our rundown for some options that just might float your boat!1Thompson, J. (2000). Playing with a purpose.Community Practitioner, 73(11), 843.
Why is play during bath time important?
All types of sensory play are developmentally important to babies and toddlers. Playing in water isn’t just fun, it’s a learning experience for little ones, who are discovering that they can cup water in their hands, pour it, splash it, and even use tools to move it from place to place. Discovery play of this type encourages critical thinking and the discovery of cause and effect. It also makes bathing a more positive experience for some babies and toddlers, some of whom may be resistant to taking a bath.2Etheredge, J. (2004). The wonderful benefits of water and sand play.Early Years Educator,6(3), 44-45.
How often do I need to clean my child’s bath toys, and how do I do so?
As much as it might pain parents to hear this, it’s definitely necessary to clean any toys that were used during their bath immediately. Not doing so means that the dirt and germs from their bathwater remain on the surface of, and potentially inside of, their toys. After they’ve used a toy, it will need to be thoroughly rinsed and dried. If it’s a squeezing or squirting toy which has a hole that water can pass through, all water will need to be squeezed and shaken out. The toy should then be dried with a towel to the best of your ability and left to continue air drying with any holes facing upward to encourage airflow.3Moldy Bath Toys: How Dangerous Are They?
About once a week, bath toys that are used on a regular basis must be disinfected with a simple antibacterial solution. This will help to prevent the development of mold, which will extend the life of your child’s bath toys. Fortunately, you won’t need any special cleaners, and there won’t be any harsh soap residue to contend with. All you need is a gallon of warm water and half a cup of standard white vinegar. Bath toys should be soaked in this solution for approximately ten minutes.4How to Clean Your Child’s Moldy Bath Toys
After their soak, toys should be gently surface-cleaned with a sponge. For squirt toys and others that take on water, allow them to fill with some solution and then shake them vigorously, squeezing out the solution afterward. After they’ve been cleaned, towel dry the toys and allow them to air dry; again, it’s important to keep any holes facing up to make sure the inside of the toy can dry as well.
How do I know when it’s time to get rid of a bath toy?
Even with regular cleaning, exposure to soap, water, and bacteria can eventually degrade bath toys to the point where they’re not safe to be used. In certain situations, it’s much smarter to get rid of a bath toy entirely than try to clean it for continued use; after all, it’s not worth exposing your little one to mold! Wondering when it’s time to get rid of a bath toy?
- Discoloration: When discoloration begins to happen on a bath toy, particularly if it’s made from silicone or water, it’s almost certainly time to say goodbye. This is because spotting and staining is typically caused by mold and mildew, not just dirt; removing it is tough and it’s not safe for your child to be exposed to.
- Cracking: Cracking and degrading can happen to some types of rubber over time, but if you see it happening to your child’s bath toy, it’s time to say goodbye. Even a small piece that’s broken off can create an instant choking hazard, so toys that are cracking or tearing should be disposed of — this is true outside the tub, too.
- Leeching water: If a toy that doesn’t have a hole to allow for squeezing or squeaking is continually leaking or leeching water after it’s been dried, it means that water is becoming trapped inside the toy that can’t be released. This creates a rather efficient breeding ground for mold and mildew, and means that it’s not safe for ongoing use.
What are some ideas for efficiently storing and drying my child’s bath toys?
Once your child’s bath toys have been washed and dried, a place where they can continue to air-dry without any minor drips causing a problem makes for ideal storage. There are a few ways to do this, but we really like these two ideas:
- A net bag: A waterproof net bag that’s used for sporting equipment, laundry, stuffed animals, or any other use can easily double as storage for their bath toys that allows nearly 360 degrees of airflow. As long as toys are patted dry, holes are drained, and the bag isn’t overstuffed, a hanging net bag in the bathroom makes a great storage spot for their bath or pool toys.
- A plastic basket: Wide plastic baskets with mesh sides that allow airflow also create a great drying spot for bath toys in a bathroom that may lack a good spot for hanging storage. Look for a basket that has airflow holes on the bottom as well, which allows toys to continue drying more efficiently; placing it on an old towel can protect your floor from any leftover drips.