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June 22, 2024

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Tub Talk with Toddlers

Encourage language with your little one. As you sit beside her in the tub, use these activities to get the chatter going.


Language develops rapidly between the ages of 1 and 3. Most children show an interest in language long before they speak. Bathtime is a fun and relaxing time to reinforce language development. Here are some ideas for tub talk:


Once your child is in the tub, hide a bath toy behind your back. Describe it and ask your child to guess what it is. Say, “I have something that is red and round. What is it?” or “I have something that is yellow and swims in the water. What is it?” You can play this even if your child doesn’t talk yet. Ask the question, pause a second and then show him the object and name it. This will help him label familiar things. Play a similar game as you put toys away after bath time. Ask, “Can you hand me a red toy? A round toy? A toy that floats?” and so on.  


Provide toys of different shapes, such as a round ball, square plastic block and oval plastic egg. Talk about shapes as your child sorts the objects. Add more shapes or use a shape sorter toy if desired. Keep the tub talk going!  


Provide balls of different sizes, such as a plastic tennis ball or a golf ball, a medium-sized rubber ball and a large beach ball. Help your child identify the balls by small, medium and large. Repeat the activity with three boats, cups or other objects.  


Provide several plastic Easter eggs of different colors. Hold up two eggs of the same color and ask, “Are they the same or different?” Hold up two eggs of different colors and ask the same question. Repeat this several times. You can also put two halves of different colors together and ask, “Are the two halves the same or different?” Help your child sort them by color. Name the colors.  


Find objects of various textures such as a rough washcloth, smooth ball and sponge. Help your child feel the difference between smooth, spongy and rough. Do the same with objects that are hard, such as a soap dish or soft, such as a washcloth or soft toy.  


As you wash your child, name the body parts. Say, “Now, we are going to wash your hands. Now, we are going to wash your elbow. Now, we are going to wash your shoulders.”  


Ask your child to predict whether an object will sink or float. “Will this boat float?  What will happen if the boat becomes filled with water? Will this egg float? What will happen if it becomes filled with water?  Will this washcloth float? How about the soap?”  


Discuss objects in relationship to one another, such as, “The boat is on top of the water” or “You are in the water.” Use words such as under, over, above, beneath, beside, next to and so on to help your child gain skill in describing objects in their relationship to each other.  


Discuss dirty and clean, hot and cold and full and empty during bath time. You can say, “Your legs are clean, but your hands are dirty,” or “The bath tub was empty, but now it’s full of water” to help your child develop an understanding of opposites.  


Practice counting by having your child help you count all the red toys, the round toys, the toys that float and so on. This will also help him learn to classify objects.  


Give your child simple instructions such as, “Please hand me the soap” or “Please wash your face with the washcloth” to provide practice in following directions. You can give your child two- and three-part instructions, such as, “Please wash your face with the washcloth, then lay the washcloth on the edge of the tub” once he is able to follow one-step instructions well. 

About the Author

Katrina Cassell

Katrina Cassell is a mother and freelance writer