Why Kids Need Water Play

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What happens when you stick a little one in a bubble bath? 

Their eyes light up and they splash and splash until the floor is soaked and your sanity is gone. By the time you’ve dried up your floor, you’ve basically mopped for the third time this week. 

Why do they do this?

Well, kids are hardwired to explore the world around them through the body’s senses.

You see this when a baby recognizes her mother’s scent and roots for milk when she’s hungry. Or when a toddler shovels birthday cake into their mouth, their hair, and everywhere else (and we do mean everywhere else). 

Sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell – these senses are our body’s way of telling us what’s happening in our environment. 

Now, summer’s here and it’s the perfect time to let your kid go crazy in the water. This type of play offers so many benefits for kids of any age.

Strengthening Fine and Gross Motor Skills

Water play is a great way to work on any motor struggles your child might be facing. There are so many ways to incorporate this type of play into your therapy routine to reach these goals.

To work on fine motor skills, you might set up a station at your kitchen table with tubs of water, scoops, cups, and pitchers and let your little one practice transferring liquid back and forth. This activity helps teach precision and control. Be sure to put a towel down to help keep messes to a minimum!

If you are working on gross motor skills, head out to the pool or lake and splash around. This is a great way to incorporate those larger muscle groups while having fun with the whole family!

Even for kids who aren’t developmentally delayed, water play is a wonderful way to encourage both fine and gross motor development in children of any age. 

Sensory Stimulation

Kids with sensory processing difficulties can oftentimes really benefit from the calming effect water has on the body and mind. 

One way to help your child relax when they are feeling stressed out is by giving them a bubble bath. We tend to think of bubble baths as a way for adults to unwind after a long day, but they work for kids too. Stick them in the tub with some bubbles and toys and help them wash their worries away.

Hint – Bubble baths are a great way to reset a rough day too. Doesn’t matter if it’s 10am, 2pm, or right before the dinner time rush, a quick dip in the tub is often just the change of pace a cranky child needs.

Water play also works for kids who need help regulating their bodies with heavy work or exercise. Swimming is an excellent way to burn off pent up energy.

Another way water play helps kids who have sensory processing difficulties is by giving them new opportunities to learn by using their hands. Sensory kids are often tactile learners, needing to touch and feel and try things for themselves.

Playing in the water offers a sensory-rich experience for kids (and adults) of any age.

Growing a Healthy Body and Mind

It’s summer and this season, in particular, lends itself well to time spent outdoors. 

And we know time spent outdoors offers many health benefits – boosting our immune systems, providing much-needed vitamin D, keeping our bodies moving, and even helping prevent and treat anxiety and depression.

If you’re going to be spending time outside, why not spend it in the water? Swimming, fishing, kayaking, paddle boarding, surfing……even an all-out water gun war! These are great ways to get the body moving and incorporate water play into your summer plans.

There are so many water-based activities that it shouldn’t be difficult to find one that suits your family’s needs. Try one, try them all. The important thing is to spend time outdoors and keep active. This is how you reap those awesome health benefits mentioned above. 

Keeping kids moving during the summer when all they want to do is zone out in front of a screen can be difficult. By encouraging them to try new things (and trying right alongside them!), you are setting them up for a lifetime of success. 

To sum it up

Water play is good for kids of all ages. It can be incorporated into your daily routine year-round, but summertime (aka now!) is a great time to get started.

You can try bubble baths, water transferring activities, and a kiddie pool for toddlers. Or fishing, swimming, and water gun wars for older kids. Really, the sky is the limit. 

These activities all share one thing in common though. They provide lasting benefits such as motor skill development, opportunities for sensory play, and keeping kids healthy.

How can YOU integrate water play into your summer routine?

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