In the baby days, everything is wonderful and exciting for the little ones. Once toddlerhood and the early childhood years roll in, it can be harder to make mundane tasks feel like fun. And harder still to convince the tiny humans that what you want them to do is what needs to be done. Ending playtime to take a bath can be one of those challenging parenting moments! 

But all hope is not lost. Standard bath toys are great, but if they’re not cutting it for your crew, it might be time to put the rubber ducky to the side and try something new. We’ve got a ton of ideas from games and environment changes that cost nothing and enhance bathtime, to unexpected toys and props you can purchase that will make the routine more fun.

So, fill up that tub and pour in the bubbles. Bathtime is about to get less tedious for you, and a whole lot easier to talk the kids into.

Finger Paint 

Your littles will enjoy creating and color-mixing with easy-to-use finger paints (these Crayola bathtub paints can be picked up at the dollar store!). Even better, they’re not paint at all—they’re colored soap, which makes cleanup painless. 

Bath Toy Rotation

Like other playtime faves, bathroom toys can lose their luster when they’re being used too often. Consider a miniature toy rotation by splitting your stash in halves or thirds and storing what’s not in use in a bin in the linen closet, or under the sink. This tactic will keep toys feeling fresh and fun for longer; just make sure to wash and let them thoroughly dry before storing. 

Gentle Bubbles

Not all kids do well with standard and popular bath soap brands. Also, using whatever liquid soap you have lying around to create bubbles is a recipe for sore eyes. Try cleaner, natural bath bubbles for a seamless and fun bath with no tears detected. We like Hello Bello Ultra-Mild Bubble Bath and California Baby Bubble Bath (some varieties even come with a bubble wand!). 

Bubble Blower

Speaking of bubbles, they’re even better when they’re interactive. A bathtime-specific blower is a cute and nifty toy to have around at this time of day. 

Bath Bombs

Be careful about fragrances and dyes if your kiddos have sensitive skin, but there are so many beautiful and fun bath bomb options on the market today. Some have toys hidden inside; others create a shimmery experience, and still more fill the tub with a fun color. Check Etsy, Target, and local craft fairs for lots of bath bomb options. 

Shoot Hoops

Use cut-up pool noodles, plastic bangle bracelets, or other found objects—even a large hair tie will do in a pinch!—to create tiny floating basketball hoops in the tub. Toss in small and lightweight dollar-store balls and you’ve got ridiculous fun ready to go. 

Shower "Rain"

Make it a night in the rainforest by adding a bit of flowing water from above. Warning: hysterical giggles may ensue. 

Go Ice Fishing

Add a couple of drops of food coloring to water and pour into an ice tray to make colorful cubes for bathtime. Dump them in at the start of bathtime (or at a few intervals to spread out the fun) and see if the kids can catch the slippery “fish” with strainer toys (or their hands) before they melt away. If you forget or don’t have time to make colored ice, regular ice works just fine.

Bath Crayons

Switch it up from bath finger paints to chubby, easy-to-grip bath crayons that the littles can use to make art on the walls before or during the wash-up routine.

Set a Mood

Dim the lights a bit, bring in a lamp or flameless candles, and use some lavender scented products. The kids can pretend to be at a spa, the whole scene will feel a lot less stressful for you, and this wind-down ritual is sure to be a frequent request.

Stacking Cups

There are so many out there, so pick a grip and colors that your little ones will love. Stacking cups (Etsy, Amazon, Target) are a great sensory toy for daily use, but also work well in the bath for dipping, dunking, and, well, stacking. 

Bathtime I-Spy

We love this anywhere-game and we bet you do, too. Sometimes the familiar can feel new when you try it somewhere unusual. Try placing a few toys, clothing items, or little surprises around the room so that they’ll look even harder and have fun picking out what they “spy.”

Slime Bath

Slime-loving kids will flip their lids for this special powder that when mixed with water fills the tub with ooey-gooey slime. It sounds crazy until you learn that this magical slime experience can be diluted with extra water for washing up easily once they’ve played a while. Pour the powder into the tub to turn bath water into slime, and get ready for lots of laughter all around. 

But if the thought of a tub full of slime makes you queasy, smaller batches of bathtime slime is also available from standbys like Crayola and a variety of crafters. You can even make your own at home. This recipe remains in powder form until your kiddos take it into the bathtub with them, where it magically transforms to slime right in their hands. 

Tub Tunes 

It seems pretty basic, but when was the last time you did? Play DJ and let the kids call out their favorite tunes. This is a great way to reconnect as a family at the end of a long day, and it makes bathtime go more smoothly for everyone. 

Fun Soap

This is another no-brainer that takes only the tiniest bit of effort. Pick up pretty soaps in your travels or whittle away a standard bar with a paring knife to make shapes they aren’t expecting. 

Cloud Dough

Like bathtime slime, it’s a fun sensory experience to ramp up your routine. Check out this easy DIY from The Soccer Mom Blog to make your own.

Glow, Baby, Glow!

Glow in the dark anything is a hit with kids. All you need are a blacklight and vitamins to create a totally cool glowing bath party they’ll want to do again and again. Find the DIY here.

Build, Baby, Build!

Give your bath-toy game an upgrade with a floating block set—it’s ideal fun for preschool through early elementary kids. 

Pick a Theme

Any occasion feels elevated when you give it a theme. Set up the bathroom ahead of time with toys that are all in one theme (mermaids, cars and trucks, princesses, sea life, etc…). You can even add some signs to the walls or pick coordinated towels to carry the theme. The kid will love finding toys they don’t usually use in the bath waiting for them; just make sure when you are able to completely dry them after use (so no water collects inside where it can mold).  

ABC’s and 123’s

Bathtime is a screen-free moment that’s perfect for kiddos to practice what they’re learning at school or home. Point to various objects and ask your toddler what color they are; pick a letter of the alphabet and help your preschooler call out a list of words that start with it; and for bigger kids, try telling a story together as another creative way to explore what they’re working on.

We hope these creative ideas help you to connect, relax, and cultivate family memories that will have everyone feeling squeaky-clean, giggled-out, and ready for your favorite part of the day: bedtime!

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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.