12 Bathtub Play Ideas

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Does your child love the water and bath time? Continue reading for ways to make bath time fun and therapeutic! 

PRONE (Belly) OVER KICKBOARD

  • Allows arms to splash in the water to help with pre-swimming skills 
  • Allows feet to splash in this water to help with pre-swimming skills 
  • If arms are placed on the kickboard it will help improve arm strength
  • Helps improve head control and strength
  • Place toys in front of them at eye level so that they can work on lifting their head up and they can begin to reach with their arms to grab and splash at the toys

SITTING ON KICKBOARD

  • Helps improve core/tummy strength 
  • Helps improve head control and strength 
  • If you move the kickboard from side to side it will work on righting reactions and protective reactions

KICKING ON BACK

  • Allows child to practice reciprocal kicking tasks that are important pre-swimming skills 
  • Helps strengthen lower extremities 
  • Can place toys in front of their feet for them to splash at to help encourage reciprocal kicks

SITTING & REACHING ACROSS MIDLINE TO
TOYS STUCK ON THE WALL

  • Improves trunk rotation
  • Allows for child to cross midline
  • Place a toy on either side of the bathtub and have them reach to the side that the toy is on with their opposite arm so that they are crossing the middle of their body

TALL KNEELING

  • Improves hip and core strength 
  • Allows for weight bearing through lower extremities to help with transitions such as crawling and pulling to stand 
  • Place their forearms and hands on the edge of the pool for support and encourage them to try and lift their bottom off of their heels. Can have toys in front of them to try and reach up to grab to help encourage them to achieve a more upright posture (bottom off of their feet)

QUADRUPED (hands and knees)

 

  • Improves neck, arm, trunk, and hip strength 

 

  • Allows for weight bearing through upper extremities and lower extremities to help with gross motors skills such as crawling
  • Place a toy at eye level for them to look at and encourage them to try and reach for the toy with one hand to further challenge their balance and prepare for skills such as crawling

BLOWING BUBBLES

  • Improves visual tracking and coordination when the child watches the bubble and attempts to pop it
  • Can work on finger isolation of just having them pop with their index finger
  • Can work on crossing midline as they reach from right to pop a bubble on their left side or reach from the left to pop a bubble on their right side 
  • Blow bubbles and let your child try to pop them with their hands or feet when in the water

ICE CUBE WATER PAINTING

  • This is a fun activity that your child can perform on their tummy or while sitting. It is great for their sensory development as they can feel the coldness of the ice water and visually track the colors that the ice cube leaves behind as they move the ice cubes back and forth

TOYS

SQUIRT GUN

  • Motor planning : how your child is going to fill the toy up and then also how to pull the trigger to make the water come out
  • Eye Hand Coordination : how your child is going to spray a specific target. Like in the video, Carter is spraying different parts of the pool. If you are in the bathtub, place an object that sticks to the side or a conditioner bottle in the corner to use as a target. In the pool, you could also squirt a ball. As the ball moves further away, the more eye hand coordination it takes to aim appropriately. 
  • Hand Strength : the child has to pull out the plug to fill with water and also squeeze the trigger to make the water come out; both working on hand strength.
  • Sitting in tailored sitting position (AKA “Criss cross applesauce”) : works on core strengthening and postural stability. By moving further from the body, as the child aims the toy to hit a target, it works further on core strengthening and shoulder girdle strength.

LEGOS WHILE CROSSING MIDLINE

  • Crossing midline helps with having both sides of the brain communicate with each other as they make new neuro pathways
  • Crossing midline helps with coordination, completing bilateral coordination activities, and other cognitive skills. 
  • In the pool, you can use any floating toys. For example, in the picture below, Carter is using Legos to build with. While using Legos, he is also working on eye hand coordination to catch the Legos as they float. He also has to use pincer or a three jaw chuck to pick up the Legos and increases hand strengthening by pushing the Legos on. He also is working on bilateral coordination, where he has to hold the boat with one hand while the other hand is picking up the single Lego and placing it onto the boat.
  • In the picture with Kaileigh, you can see that she is placing the Legos into a floating ice cube tray to work more on her pincer grasp, eye hand coordination and color sorting.

LEGOS IN PRONE

  • In the pool, you can use any floating toys. For example, in the picture below, Carter is using Legos to build with. While using Legos, he is also working on eye hand coordination to catch the Legos as they float. He also has to use pincer or a three jaw chuck to pick up the Legos and increases hand strengthening by pushing the Legos on. He also is working on bilateral coordination, where he has to hold the boat with one hand while the other hand is picking up the single Lego and placing it onto the boat.
  • Lying in prone or on the child’s stomach helps promote upper body strength, as well as core strength.

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