How do you choose which bath toys are best for your child's age and stage – and which ones will keep your little one entertained for more than 3 seconds flat?
While a 3-month-old will love watching you make bubbles pop and water sprinkle, a 3-year-old is going to be more focused on things they can stack and build, and fill and pour themselves.
With that in mind, we’ve been testing a whole load of bath toys with a range of children under the age of 4, as well as with parents and toy experts, to find out which ones kept them smiling – and splashing – the most.
To keep your child cosy after bath time, take a look at our best Oodie alternatives.
Here's our pick of the best bath toys, as tested by children and rated by parents
1. Bburago BB Junior Splash n Play Submarine Projector, £9.99
– Great for light-show fun
Age suitability: From birth | Best for age: 6 months+ | Batteries: 3 x button cell (included)
Awards: Gold, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2021
What it is: An 14cm x 10cm submarine toy with a projector in its base that beams an image of a sea-life scene below it – activated by pressing the periscope.
Why we love it: This little toy turns humdrum bathtime into a sea-themed light show, as well as being a cool submarine toy. Our baby tester Bella, 12 months, was mesmerised by the lights in her bathwater (and her brother Zac, 6, was pretty impressed, too). "The idea behind this is so original," said their mum Anna, "and my kids loved the fact it's not like their other bath toys. Zac also projected the images on the wall to make a disco in our lounge! In the bath, Bella clapped her hands and pointed at the animals and images. I think this toy will be last a long time." Not bad for under a tenner.
2. Early Learning Centre Bath Time Tea Party Set, £18
– Great for role play
Age suitability: 12 months+ | Best for age: 18 months+ | Batteries: None
Awards: Silver, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2021
What it is: A tea time set on a floating 34cm x 18cm tray that can be used in the bath. It includes a transparent teapot, 3 cake-shaped water squirters and 2 tea-cup-shaped sieves. The tray also doubles up as a shape sorter.
Why we love it: Pretend tea parties are already a firm favourite with many children – so creating a set specially designed for bathtime is an ingenious idea. It was a big hit with our child tester Elizabeth, 18 months, and her twin sister. Their mum Alexandra said, "My girls found it so exciting. They loved pretending to have tea and cake, pouring the water from the teapot and trying to catch it coming through the cup sieves." We like the shape sorter, too– a nice extra touch.
3. Toomies Bubble & Bake Bathtime Kitchen, £19.99
– Great for creative play
Age suitability: 18 months+ | Best for age: 18 months+ | Batteries: None
Awards: Bronze, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2021
What it is: A 28cm x 15cm x 21cm bathtime pretend-cooking set with suction pads, featuring an oven, hob and sink. There's a pump tap at the sink (which you can also fill) and an option to create bath foam using bubble bath. Comes with a ladle, saucepan and pie dish.
Why we love it: It's fun to see a new bathtime angle (and like the tea tray higher in our list, refreshing to see one that isn’t sea or fish-related). Our toddler testers' parents felt the quality was good and this is a toy that would probably last Hannah, mum to our toddler tester Poppy, 2, said, "She loved playing with this. It can be used in the bath but also out of it, which I really like. My children have just started doing role play and this has been great: they use the sink and tap to pretend they're giving their other bath toys a wash, then use the hob, saucepan and oven to 'cook dinner'." Our only gripe would be that the suction pads could be a little stickier.
4. Matchstick Monkey Bathtime Wobblers, £12.99
– Great for wobbly bobbing
Age suitability: 12 months+ | Best for age: 12 months+ | Batteries: None
Awards: Bronze, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2021
What it is: A pack of two 10cm-tall monkeys that wobble and float in the bath. Made from silicone and coated in antimicrobial protection to keep mould at bay.
Why we love it: These cheeky monkeys are smooth, tactile and well-made. Their bold, smiling faces might be designed to appeal to toddlers but their soothing, subtle colours also got our parent testers’ vote. They're also ultra-hygienic. "I love that they're completely sealed and coated," said Phoebe, mum to our toddler tester Fergus, 16 months."It's great my little boy can play with these and I can have peace of mind he's not chomping on mouldy bits!"
Available at: Matchstick Monkey
5. Nuby Fun Watering Can, £5.99
– Great for learning cause and effect
Age suitability: 6 months+ | Best for age: 6 months+ | Batteries: None
What it is: A 15cm-high easy-fill plastic (BPA-free) watering can with a spout that sprinkles water. Holds about 400ml.
Why we love it: It's colourful, fun and great value. The handle is shaped just right for baby hands and, though the wide opening makes it easy to fill, it sprinkles water out very gently. All our baby testers loved it filling it up and pouring it out – or just watching the water fall as someone else did the honours
6. Vtech Splash & Play Elephant, £22.99
– Great for entertainment value
Age: 12 months+ | Best for age: 12 months+ | Batteries: 1 x AAA (not included)
What it is: A singing elephant that sticks to the side of your bath and squirts water from its trunk. It has all sorts of accessories, from manipulative beads, a spring back seahorse, a spinning starfish and a wobbling water container to a twisting foot, a sliding leg and a scoop accessory.
Why we love it: There's plenty to be playing with in this bath toy! Our child testers were fascinated by the light-up snorkel button that you press to hear phrases and sounds. We like that it features 4 sing-along songs and 15 melodies, so you don't get too frustrated hearing the same tune all the time. It's not cheap but if you want all-singing, all-splashing bath toy, this is it.
7. Infantino Senso Plug and Squirt, £9.99
– Great for babies
Age suitability: 6 months+ | Best for age: 9 months+ | Batteries: None
What it is: A set of 4 16cm-high squirty bathtime friends (octopus, sea horse, turtle and frog) which you can pull apart and snap back together in different combinations.
Why we love it: Our baby testers loved these characters' friendly faces and gentle squirtiness – and the older ones loved switching and swapping the colourful heads and bottoms to create silly 'octohorses' and 'frogtles'. Lyndsay, mum of our baby tester Grace, 9 months, said, "I think they are great and the fact they come apart is brilliant. They also feel durable, well-made and soft to the touch."
Available at: Amazon
8. Splash About Splash Jacks, £10
– Great for teething babies
Age suitability: 3 months+ | Best for age: 6 months+ | Batteries: None
What it is: A set of 3 5cm-diameter BPA and phthalate-free water-safe natural rubber balls with protruding knobs designed for a teething babies to gnaw and chew.
Why we love it: We really like the bright colours and the noduled shapes that are just the right size for little fingers – and gums. The balls also have no air hole – which stops water entering and mould from building up. Laura, mum of our baby tester Lola, 8 months, said: "Lola really enjoyed bopping these under water in the bath and trying to catch them as they floated around her. They work fantastically as teethers out of the water, too, and are obviously very satisfying to chew on as she can get the little nodules right to the back of her mouth."
Available at: SplashAbout
9. Skip Hop Full Up Bee Fountain, £15
– Great for a soothing water cascade
Age suitability: 9 months+ | Best for age: 12 months+ | Batteries: None
What is it: A 30cm-tall fill-up-and-spill water shower toy with 2 easy-to-grab handles in a super cute bee design.
Why we love it: We really rated this bath toy's friendly face and grabbable handles and the very gentle spill of cascading water that comes out. The fact it's made from PVC and phthalate-free materials is also a huge bonus. It's lovely and soothing and looks really cute too. You could probably get the same sort of fun from stacking cups but the design makes this product stand out.
Available at: Amazon
10. Water flutes, £6.70
– Great for musical fun
Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 3+ | Batteries: None
What it is: A colourful set of 26cm-high plastic flutes that you can fill up to different levels with water and then then blow through to ‘play’ different notes. Comes with 5 colour-coded waterproof music sheets.
Why we love it: Our child testers loved the whole process of filling up the pipes and then playing the notes. Most of them found playing an actual tune (following the music sheets) pretty tricky and said, actually, just tooting around 'freestyle' is way more fun. It does require a bit more brain power than some of the other toys listed here, so is better suited to older toddlers but musical kids will love it. It's also a really reasonable price.
About the author
Helen is Deputy Editor of MadeForMums, the author of Parenting for Dummies (Wiley, £17.99) and the Head Tester for our MadeForMums Toy Awards. She has written about parenting for Mumsnet, Pregnancy & Birth, Prima Baby, Boots Parenting Club and She Magazine and she's also been Consumer Editor of Mother & Baby. She has 3 boys and a heavy-duty washing machine.
We've got more great toys here...
Helen is author of the classic advice book Parenting for Dummies and a mum of 3. Before joining MadeForMums, she was Head of Community at Mumsnet and also the Consumer Editor of Mother & Baby.
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