top of page

Rub-a-dub-dub: Water Play and Baby Dolls

Many toddlers love water play and want to play with it forever. We know that children learn the most and can focus the longest when they are doing activities that they really like. We can tap into this interest and attention by making water play even more of a learning activity by adding some props. Your child will have a blast and can learn so much this way!

Toddler in black checkered top and spaghetti sauce on her cheek and arm holds a green handled fork in her right hand while pulling spaghetti noodls off the fork with her left hand.

During this activity, you can teach your child about body parts (head, arm, leg, foot, etc.), action words (wash, rinse, scrub, splash, pour, etc.), concepts (clean/dirty, more/all done, etc.) and/or objects (towel, wash cloth, soap, bubbles, water, etc.).

Basic Materials Needed:

  • Medium size plastic tub or container. A plastic shoe or sweater box works well but anything that will hold water and is large enough for your doll will work fine.

  • Baby doll that is waterproof with no cloth parts

  • Wash cloth or sponge

  • Towel or towels

  • Pitcher or something similar for rinsing

Optional Materials:

  • A little bit of brown play-dough or clay to rub on for “dirt”

  • A few drops of non toxic bubble bath or

  • A tiny bit or bar of non toxic baby soap for “washing”

  • Waterproof mat if needed (a plastic table cloth might work well) (If you are doing this outside, you might not need this)


  1. Put a small amount of warm water in the tub.

  2. If you are using the “dirt”, put a little on the baby doll on body parts you want your child to learn.

  3. Say to your child “Oh look! Baby is dirty, she needs a bath” and help her or him to put the doll in the tub of water.

  4. Point to the body parts that you have put “dirt” on or just want them to notice. You can say “Look! Baby has dirt on her arm. We need to wash it” as you point to the arm.

  5. Show your child how to wash with the washcloth and/or soap and then hand it to your child. Say something like “Wash the arm. Wash wash wash. Wow, you are getting all the dirt off baby’s arm. Wash, wash, wash”

  6. Allow your child lots of time to have fun with this. If he/she just wants to splash in the water that’s ok too. Just offer opportunities to wash the baby too.

  7. When the arm is “clean”, point to another body part and name it. It’s great if you have the “dirt” on it to make it stand out. You might say “Oh look, baby has a dirty foot too! Let’s wash the baby’s foot”

  8. Follow steps 4-6 above for the different body parts.

  9. When it’s time to be done, prepare your child by saying “Baby’s all washed. Let’s rinse”. Pour some water on the baby and hand the pitcher to your child so they can do this too.

  10. Say “Baby’s all clean! Time to dry off”. Hand your child a towel and help them to dry the baby off. (Tip: you could also talk about the body parts of the baby as we did during washing to have another round of practicing finding and naming them)

  11. Help your child to pour out the water on the grass or somewhere else appropriate to end the activity.

Other options:

You can extend the activity by having your child help you dress the baby and practice finding and talking more about body parts and clothing items as you do so.

You can also make this a great indoor activity by putting down a waterproof mat somewhere that mess making is ok or you could even do this in the bathtub with or without the container

We love water play because it’s not only really fun, but also educational! We hope you and your little one has fun playing in the water and cleaning their baby dolls.

180 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page