Baby Play: Water Tray Play

Jul 6, 2012

baby game, baby activity, baby fun

Ageapprox. 6 months to 2 years

Materials: Waterproof high-chair tray or other large tray that could hold approx 1cm water & milk bottle tops.

baby game, baby activity, baby fun
Pour approx 1cm (or less) of water in baby's high chair tray (or other tray) and let baby touch and play with the water

baby game, baby activity, baby fun
Baby can barely see the water but it is there. Time to get a close look

baby game, baby fun, baby activity
Baby loves splashing! This is exploring the properties of water.

baby game, baby fun, baby activity
Add some milk bottle tops. They float and glide across the surface like a baby air-hockey table

baby fun, baby game, baby activity
Trying to grasp the milk bottle tops can be tricky, as touching them makes them glide away quickly

Baby is Learning:

- Fine motor skills
- Co-ordination
- Eye tracking (following an object with their eyes)
- Hand and eye coordination
- Cause and effect (ie. hitting the surface of the water makes it splash up and wet you etc.)
- Expectation
- About things that float
- About reflecting light
- About the see-through nature of water
- Emotions. Enjoyment & excitement.
- How to grasp small objects that move
- What to do
- Sensory. Feel, temperature, wetness, reflection, light, etc.

Handy Tips:

Simplify this activity by sitting baby on your lap and letting them dip their hands in and splash around with a small bowl of water. Float the milk bottle tops on the water and let baby bat at them or splash to move them. 

Extend this activity for older babies by talking about the colours of the bottle tops and trying to encourage baby to grab for specific bottle tops. If you only have bottle tops of one colour, try adding different coloured sticker dots to the top or something similar.

Mix it up by providing different objects that can float on the water.

Repeat this activity as often as you like as babies (and children) need repetition in order to consolidate their learning and understanding

Talk to your baby about what they are doing. This will help them begin to understand the physical and mental processes they are going through as well as helping develop their vocabulary. "Wow, look at the top gliding across the water" "Yay, you got a blue lid. Well done!" etc.

Give your baby your time. It's the best gift you could ever give them.

- If you are considering making things a little more interesting by adding a little bit of food colouring to the water to see it better... perhaps reconsider (haha). I did try this and those harmless little, invisible droplets of water that were being splashed around are suddenly NOT invisible little droplets and cleaning up little blue (or other coloured) splashes from, well, everywhere in the near vicinity, isn't so fun ;)

***- Supervise! Babies need constant supervision. Especially when near water regardless of how little (or big) an amount.***

Happy playing,
Debs :)

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  1. Love this idea Debs! We don't have a highchair (ours attaches right to the table), but I do have a booster seat with a tray so we'll have to try this!

    1. Thank you. Yes, I'm always conscious not to share ideas that others can't emulate at home without buying special equipment or something but was hoping most people would have some sort of tray that might work. Let me know if it's enjoyed :)

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  2. Love this! How old is your baby?

  3. Such a lovely, simple and creative idea! Love it!

  4. I love this and can't wait to try it with my 8 month old! It looks like I have another great blog to add to my "Favorites". Thanks for your great ideas : )

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  6. This is a great idea thanks. I'm also liking the straightforward list of learning outcomes you add to your activities and tips for extending the activity! Really outlines the benefits. I tried water play like this on a baking tray on the floor with my 6.5 month old but he just tipped up the tray and the water went everywhere! A high chair tray sounds like a more practical idea for him. I've linked to this in my blog post of trying the water sensory play idea ( so readers can access further ideas and resources. Many thanks, Emm of baby-brain.

  7. Love this idea!! Will pass it on to my daughter for my grandson. The simple things really do work!

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