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I have done a Baby Stuff I Love on bath stuff, but not extensively on toys (see Baby Stuff I Love: Bathtime). First, some of my bath toy tips:
- Buy Short-term: When I buy a bath toy, I look at it with the idea that this will be thrown away sometime soon. This is not a toy I intend to keep around for all of my children, especially if it is a toy that gets water inside of it. Even with meticulous care, bath toys get nasty.
- Dry Daily: I look at the end of bath time the same as the end of any other playtime. The kids are expected to pick up all toys and hand them to me before they get out. I dry them off and put them away. There are some days that for whatever reason we have to hurry and don’t clean the toys up right away, but most days we do. This helps prevent mildew and mold.
- Clean Often: “Often” will vary depending on you. It will depend on your standards of clean. It will depend on how well toys get cleaned each day (the more you dry them off, the less often cleaning is necessary). It will also depend on the climate you live in. I imagine that a humid climate is going to create mold inside of bath toys faster than a dry climate.
- Cleaning Tip: Vinegar. I use vinegar to clean our bath toys. It works really well.
- Buy New: When you have more than one child, I really recommend you get your younger baby her own bath toys. When you consider that young babies put everything in their mouths, you don’t really want your baby putting old bath toys in her mouth. With Kaitlyn, I got her toys that were just hers. Only she got to play with them until the kids started taking baths together.
Now for our favorite bath toys.
- For the Newborn: The newborn doesn’t require any toys. She can’t hold one. She doesn’t play with it. She just likes to look at the parent bathing her. For a baby 0-3 months old, don’t worry about toys for bath time. I am very traditional and love the rubber ducky. Each of my children have had their own rubber ducky at birth and I would take pictures of them in the bath with the ducky. Silly, maybe. But it is what I like :). Both of my kids at ages 3.5 and 1.5 do both like playing with them still. Rubber Duckies
- Toys to Hold: As your baby grows into an age of being able to hold toys and sitting up in the tub, I like toys that are small enough to hold (but of course not small enough to choke on). One of our favorites is the Sally Snap and Squirt Sea Creatures. Kaitlyn got these at her first Christmas. She loved them from the beginning, and so did Brayden once he was able to play with them.
- Foam Letters: My kids have both always loved foam letters. They are great toys for having learning opportunities while taking a bath. One thing to take note of is if your baby has teeth and likes to put them in his mouth, teeth marks will follow. Neither of mine ever took a chunk out, just teeth marks. Foam Letters
- Other Foam: Foam is fun because it sticks to the side of the tub. My son also has foam cars. He has a lot of fun with these. They have several foam items out there, from shapes to “paper dolls” to garden items. Foam Bath ToysCups: My children each have their own cup for the tub. It is just a cup from my kitchen I didn’t mind giving up. I wash them in the dishwasher every so often. I don’t ever rotate them back into the kitchen use category. They stay with the tub. These cups are by far one of the most favorite toys of both children.
- Boat: The boat is another favorite. There are many brands of boats out there. Look around at them and choose which you think your child might like best. We have Tubby Tug Boat by Parents brand. It comes with several toys. A fun thing for my kids to do with it is fill it up with water, dump it out, repeat.
- Basketball: When Brayden was about two, my parents gave him a Little Tykes basketball toy. I remember the first time he played with it. I had never heard him laugh so hard. He and Kaitlyn both enjoy it today.
- Bath Books: One of Brayden’s favorites has always been his Baby Einstein Bath Books. You have to really be diligent about drying these off completely each time you use it in the bath tub. Mold quickly builds up. Because of that, I was less enthusiastic about giving it to Kaitlyn in the bath, so she gets concerned about a book being in the tub and always gives it back to me when I give it to her.
- Bubbles: My children both love bubbles. Over the years, I have tried several different kinds of bubbles. I first tried the least expensive kind at the store. They didn’t work well. I then tried Mr. Bubble, which was more expensive but awesome. One day the store was out of Mr. Bubble, so I tried another more expensive brand. It didn’t work any better than the less expensive brands. So I do Mr. Bubble. It takes less bubble bath to create more bubbles, and the bubbles actually stay in the tub for the duration of the bath. Mr. Bubble
- Crayola Bath Crayons: For Christmas, each child got a Crayola drawing in the tub bath item. Kaitlyn got Crayola® Bathtub Crayons and Brayden got Crayola Bathtub Markers. The crayons are great. Both children really enjoy them. The crayon is really easy to clean off of the tub. I have the kids clean it off the tub themselves at the end of each bath and they have no trouble. Kaitlyn has also demonstrated that it comes off of skin easily (not something I am allowing to be regularly demonstrated). The markers, however, I wouldn’t recommend to anyone. They clean off really easily, they just don’t draw in the first place. They might work if you were drawing on a perfectly dry tub surface, but that obviously isn’t going to happen.
- Regular Toys: Every so often, I let the kids take a water-safe toy into the tub that is just a normal toy. I let it be in the tub for that one time just so it doesn’t get buildup of soap scum or mold. Fisher-price Little People toys are good examples of toys that are safe for the tub.
- Other: There is no shortage of fun bath toys out there. Look through them and find what you think will be of interest to your child. Baby Bath Toys and Toddler Bath Toys.
As always, please share your favorite bath toys!