The 12 best bath toys for babies, toddlers and preschoolers 2020
17 June 2020
Looking to make bath time a fun and educational experience? One of these parent-recommended bath toys for babies, toddlers and preschoolers could be just what you need.
Bath time can be a special time for you and your baby. It's allows you to relax them before bedtime while giving you the chance to bond. But it’s also a great opportunity to learn, experiment and have fun, and a few well-chosen baby bath toys will help with that.
There are lots of bath toys available, from foam jigsaw puzzles and bath books to bubble toys and water tunnels, all designed to help a child's growth and development as they track objects with their eyes, strengthen hands and wrists, and begin to learn about cause and effect.
And, of course, while your child is happily engaged with their toys, it’s easier for you to get essential jobs like hair washing done, which can sometimes be a flashpoint for tears.
Different bath toys will be enjoyed at different ages and stages, so you can start with some very simple floating objects to catch your newborn’s eye, move on to showing them toys that fill and pour by around six months, and then introduce more complex toys and games to keep their interest as they get older.
And the results are in. Here are the best bath toys for 2020.
1. Best overall bath toy: Nuby Foam Bath Letters and Numbers
“I bought DD some foam bath letters. She used to dislike a bath, but now asks to go just so she can get her hands on her letters. It says they are only suitable for children aged three and over, but when a child is in the bath they are supervised 100% anyway. She's also learning with them.”
Nuby's Bath Letters and Numbers are ideal for children wanting to practice counting and their ABCs.
Made of non-toxic, durable foam, the letters and numbers float in the water and can be stuck to the side of the bathtub or the bathroom wall when wet.
While they are recommended for children aged three and over, Mumsnet users say that foam letters can also be a great way for younger toddlers to interact and learn in the water.
This colourful set from Nuby includes 26 letters (A to Z) and 10 numbers (0 to 9).
Need to know
- Suitable from: 3 years
- Retailers: Amazon and Nuby
- Price: £5.88
2. Best bath toy for babies: Splash About Splash Jacks
These colourful water toys are designed with teething babies in mind, but are also nice to have bobbing in the water with your newborn baby so that they can watch the shapes float by and track them with their eyes. As such, we're also recommending the Splash About Splash Jacks as the best bath toy for newborns.
As your baby grows, they'll start to reach out and grab for the Splash Jacks – their chunky shape and pleasing texture make them easy for babies to handle.
They are mould-resistant and BPA-free, made from natural rubber and coloured using food-grade paint, which means you can feel completely confident that they are safe for your baby to chomp down on when she’s teething.
They’re also great for playing with at the pool when you start to take her swimming.
Need to know
- Suitable from: Birth
- Retailers: Amazon and splashabout.com
- Price: From £9.99
3. Best bath toy for 6 months plus: Green Toys My First Stacking Cups
“Stacking cups! Best toy ever and enjoyed from when DC was able to hold something.”
Stacking cups are the ideal bath toy for babies who have just learnt to sit up, but this My First Stacking Cups set from Green Toys can just as easily be enjoyed on dry land too.
In the bath, stacking cups can be used for filling, pouring and splashing – great for improving their motor skills and for teaching cause and effect. And, of course, they’re also brilliant for pouring a gentle stream of water onto your baby’s tummy while they squeal with delight.
This set of six cups, in muted colours, are made from 100% recycled plastic, are BPA-, PVC- and phthalate-free, and can go in the dishwasher for cleaning.
Need to know
- Suitable from: 6 months
- Retailers: Amazon, Ocado, greentoys.co.uk and more
- Price: £11.99
4. Best budget bath toy: Skip Hop Zoo Fill Up Fountain Bee
We like a bath toy that does one thing and does it well. Dunk the smiling Skip Hop Zoo Fill Up Fountain Bee in the bath to fill him up, and then lift him and watch the water fountain out the bottom.
Big, easy-to-hold handles and bright colours make this really appealing for older babies (we'd recommend from 12 months plus) who will be able to work this toy easily on their own.
Crucially, it also keeps both their hands busy and their mind occupied while you get on with washing and rinsing their hair, unimpeded.
Need to know
- Suitable from: 9 months
- Retailers: John Lewis, Amazon, JoJo Maman Bébé and other toy retailers
- Price: £9
5. Best bath toy for toddlers: Tomy Toomies Foam Cone Factory
“We had the Tomy Foam Cone Factory – great fun.”
The Tomy Toomies Foam Cone Factory is very popular with Mumsnet users and it’s easy to see why. Your own ice cream factory on the edge of the bath – what’s not to like?
This toy attaches to the side of the bath with suction cups and comes with three cones to fill with ice cream bubbles. Just add water and bubble bath to the top, then pull the lever to fill the cones with foam and add your own pretend sprinkles with the sprinkle shaker.
The cones are flat-bottomed so they sit on the side of the bath while your child takes your next order. Great for role play and developing their motor skills.
Need to know
- Suitable from: 18 months to 4 years
- Retailers: Amazon, Boots, Smyths Toys plus others
- Price: £15.96
6. Best bath toy for preschoolers: Kitpas Bath Crayons
“Another big hit – bath crayons.”
If you spend your life begging them not to draw on your walls and furniture, let them go doodle-crazy in the bath instead.
You can buy bath crayons anywhere but these, by Kitpas, are really worth shelling out on. They're designed with an ergonomic grip and are chunky enough to keep hold of, even when wet.
Their fish-shaped covers are wipe clean, they float in the water without disintegrating, and they come in a set of lovely colours that will keep your toddler entertained for the whole of bath time. And they wash off easily too. Phew! We’re sold.
Need to know
- Suitable from: 3 years
- Retailers: Amazon and Kidly
- Price: £19 for 10 colours
7. Best bath toy for five-year-olds: Playmobil Family Fun Floating Paddle Boat
“I do like the Playmobil Family Fun Floating Paddle Boat, which comes with a slide, four characters and accessories.”
Playmobil is a firm family favourite and kids aged five will love this little set that they can take in the bath with them, with four Playmobil people to play with.
It’s especially good for this age group, when small-world play takes centre stage, and the fact that they can dry this set off and use it out of the bath too makes it even better value for money.
The paddle boat has its own slide (of course) and you can also buy an underwater motor separately to make the boat move by itself.
Many of Playmobil’s sets are designed for use on water so if this floating boat doesn’t, well, float your boat, have a look at the others – everything from pirate ships to amphibious trucks. We like the hammerhead shark too.
Need to know
- Suitable from: 4 to 10 years
- Retailers: Amazon, playmobil.com and all good toy shops
- Price: £14.77
8. Best eco-friendly bath toy: Green Toys Ferry Boat With Cars
“Green Toys boats are loved here!”
Every bath time needs a really good boat and we love this ferry by Green Toys that’s sure to remind them of holidays to France or the Isle of Wight.
It comes with two toy cars to load up, a slide-out ramp and a cargo bay that unclips for fuss-free washing. As for design, it's easy to grip in the bath, and it generally feels really solid – we think it will last for years.
Best of all, it has great eco credentials for those of us conscious about the amount of plastic piling up in our houses. It’s made from 100% recycled milk bottles and even comes packaged in recycled (and recyclable) materials using soy inks.
For your peace of mind, it contains no BPA, phthalates or PVC, and it goes in the dishwasher so is easy to keep clean. We’re all on board with this little boat.
Need to know
- Suitable from: 3 to 7 years
- Retailers: Amazon, Argos, Ocado, John Lewis & Partners and others
- Price: £23.99
9. Best sensory bath toy: Iggle Piggle’s Lightshow Bath Time Boat Toy
Toys that light up under the water are absolutely magical, particularly for children who feel a bit stressed in the bath or benefit from sensory toys.
And is there anything more relaxing than Iggle Piggle floating down the river in his boat? It’s a sight that has reduced most parents to tears of gratitude at least once in the early evening.
Iggle Piggle’s boat has an ever-changing light-up pattern in three LED colours that create a soothing glow under the water that children seem to find really relaxing – perfect for a quiet bath before bedtime.
The boat also has a shape-sorter with foam shapes that float in the water, and Iggle Piggle himself also comes in two parts to act as a water-pouring toy.
There’s a lot to this toy, which makes it worth the price tag, but the beautiful, soothing lights are the best bit and we’d pay the £20 for that alone. “Round and round a little boat, no bigger than your hand. Out on the ocean, far away from land…”
Need to know
- Suitable from: 12 months to 5 years
- Retailers: Amazon, Argos, Smyths Toys, Very and other toy retailers
- Price: £19.99
10. Best STEM bath toy: Tomy Boon Pipes Bath Toy
“We have these stick-on bath pipes that the children love.”
We love this set of five colourful plastic pipes that will encourage would-be plumbers and tiny engineers everywhere.
They stick to the side of the bath or tiles with suction cups, then you syphon water through them, either individually or by using them together.
Each pipe does something slightly different to keep their interest. If they’re popular, you can buy a couple of sets to expand the play and increase learning – they work particularly well with the Tomy Boon Cogs set.
Need to know
- Suitable from: 1 to 4 years
- Retailers: Amazon and JoJo Maman Bébé
- Price: £10.99
11. Best wind-up bath toy: Tomy Splashy the Penguin Bath Toy
A wind-up toy with a few extra surprises, Splashy the Penguin swims around the bath when you turn the dial, gargles when on his front and hums “Row Row Row Your Boat” on his back.
With a large button that’s easy for small fingers to work, colourful features and a friendly face, he makes an ideal bath time pal for children aged one upwards.
Need to know
- Suitable from: 12 months
- Retailers: Amazon
- Price: £13.95
12. Best baby bath book: Colour Me: Who’s in the Pond? by Surya Sajnani
“We used to read bath books in the bath.”
Looking for your baby's first bath book? We all like a book at bedtime and this delightful story of underwater life is a sweet bath time read as well.
Best of all, as you submerge the black and white book in water, colours begin to emerge in the pictures as if by magic.
An adorable little bath book that’s sure to become a favourite in no time.
Need to know
- Suitable from: Any age with supervision
- Retailers: Amazon, Waterstones, Book Depository, WHSmith and other booksellers
- Price: £5.49
Are bath toys necessary?
If you’re on a tight budget, proprietary bath toys aren't a necessity and lots of parents will say they did perfectly well with just a couple of plastic cups, a colander and a whisk to whizz up the bubbles – which, incidentally, is great for helping young children strengthen their wrists in preparation for mark-making and early writing.
But some colourful bath toys can make a real difference, both in distracting your child while you get the necessary ablutions done, and in adding a bit of fun and relaxation to bath time. The bath is also a great place for learning through play and for getting a parent's full attention.
If your child goes through a stage of not enjoying bath time (and many do), a couple of new bath toys might encourage them into the tub. When you’re away or on holiday, seeing a familiar toy come out at bath time may also help them to feel more secure.
Familiar faces and characters are generally very helpful for a child who’s bath shy. If Peppa Pig gets them into the bath when you can’t, then who are we to argue?
What should I look for in a bath toy?
This will depend on the stage of development (see below), but, firstly, you’re looking for toys that will be safe to use – check for the CE mark – and are appropriate for their age.
Toys that are colourful will appeal to children who are eager to play and engage with their surroundings, and will be easier to spot in the water. Toys that are big enough for them to grab in their hands will also enable them to fully interact.
Remember that lots of ‘non bath’ toys can go in the tub but, regardless of your child’s age, make sure there or no tiny pieces that can get into the plug hole and block up your drains – calling out a plumber is a very expensive way to enjoy a nighttime bath.
Also look to see what the toys does and what learning experience it offers – will it help with a new skill or experience appropriate to your child’s age?
It’s also worth making sure that your bathroom can accommodate the toy. If it sticks to the wall next to your bath, for example, it will be no good to you if you have a freestanding tub perched in the middle of the room with no wall nearby. Some roll top baths may not accommodate toys that hang over the edge.
What bath toys are best for babies?
Tiny newborns probably don’t need much – the experience of being in the water is enough. But by the time they reach 12 weeks, they might welcome something new in the bath.
Start with some very basic floating bath toys that your baby can watch as they bob in the water – great for encouraging them to track things with their eyes.
Also make sure anything you give your child can go into their mouth as it's likely that that's the first place it will go. Look for lightweight objects that they will later be able to grab. Simple bubbles blown in the bathroom will catch their eye, and they might also like toys that light up underwater.
What bath toys are best for older babies and toddlers?
By the time your baby can sit up, fill-and-pour toys (cups to you and me) are good for interaction. Your child will enjoy having water poured on their tummy and seeing a cup go from full to empty.
Cups with holes in the bottom are fun too, so your baby can watch the water pour out. Some basic rubber ducks, boats or wind-up toys will encourage them to reach out and grab.
Familiar characters and toys with buttons to push or levers to pull will distract toddlers from the dreaded hair wash and help develop their understanding of cause and effect.
Start looking for bath toys that do things now, like light up, make a noise or move around, to capture your child's attention.
Bath toys for preschoolers and older children
Once they can be trusted not to put everything in their mouths, creative toys like bath crayons are a great buy. Do encourage them to keep their artwork to the sides of the bath though – crayon marks don't tend to come out of the grouting.
Foam jigsaw puzzles that have pieces that float in the water and can be pieced together on the tiled wall will keep them busy. Foam numbers and letters, as they begin to recognise those, will provide a great platform for learning during playtime.
There are lots of small-world bath toys on the market, from sea creatures to pirate ships and more (watch out for any tiny pieces). STEM bath toys are available for all ages, but there are some particularly nifty ones for older kids – from bath cogs and gears to building toys and bath rain clouds that help them discover how the weather works.
How to store bath toys
Once you’ve got a few bath toys, you’ll want something to help keep them all together so that you prevent your bathroom from being annexed by small plastic sharks and pirates.
Opt for a baby bath toy storage solution that allows the toys to drain easily to prevent them from getting mouldy. While the most common option is a net with suckers that you attach to the bathroom wall, we’d recommend a bath toy organiser that's a little more sturdy, such as the Bath Pod Frog Scoop by Boon.
You don’t need to break the bank though. A simple peg basket with drainage holes in it can be hung from your shower caddy. A drying rack left in the bath would also work just fine.
How to clean bath toys
Anything that sits in water runs the risk of becoming mouldy so you'll need to wash your child's bath toys regularly.
Give them a rinse and squeeze as much water as you can out of them after each bath, and then store them in a cool, dry place where they can drip-dry easily.
You’ll probably want to give them a proper wash every few weeks too. The easiest solution is to stick them in the dishwasher, which is hot enough to kill off any germs – or you can sterilise them in the same way you do baby feeding bottles.
You can also use diluted bleach – but be very sure you’ve rinsed it all off before giving the toy back to your child – or soak it in diluted vinegar overnight and rinse off.
The worst offenders are squeeze toys that take water in and then squirt it out because, inevitably, it never all comes out. You can, however, buy squeeze toys that are made in two halves to be opened up for cleaning now, like these Munchkin Bath Squirts.
The alternative for those who are mould-averse is to simply to replace your bath toys every few months, but the impact on the environment could be off-putting.
How we chose our recommendations
Because we know that there’s nothing like a real recommendation from a real parent, we first headed to the Mumsnet forums to find out which bath toys discerning Mumsnet users had bought for their children. We compiled a list of the toys they recommended for being fun and long-lasting, noting safety credentials as well as age suitability.
We then did some research across the wider web, looking at which baby bath toys had won accolades or been featured in ‘best buy’ lists across websites and print media, and what customers reviews said about them. We also looked at advice on toy safety from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) for their recommendations on buying toys for very young children.
Having collated all that information, we picked the bath toys we thought would make the best buys in several age and interest categories.
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