Cost: Somewhere from very cheap to a small fortune.
- Usually between 1 and 5 cute, plastic creatures with a nautical theme.
- May include something clockwork with flippers.
- Will almost certainly involve some means of soaking a parent with water.
We have some large penguins that open up and stack inside each other. The kids like hiding other things inside them and making me guess what's there. 'Water' is nearly always a safe bet.
Object: To keep the children distracted while they get clean (preferably without flooding the bathroom).
Game length: Somewhere between 5 minutes and half an hour.
Number of players: 1-3. Even having three children in one bath can be fairly cramped. More than that simply isn't going to leave much room for the toys.
Age: Up to about 7.
Comments: Most bath toys come with instructions to wash them with disinfectant regularly. With small children to care for, this is unlikely to be one of your top priorities. Stuff will start to grow on the toys.
Hard plastic toys get black grot in all the nooks and crannies. There are a lot more of these nooks and crannies than you would imagine. Scrubbing them with an old toothbrush helps but is unlikely to get them entirely clean. If water gets inside, they've pretty much had it.
Soft, squeezy toys are worse. Sure, it's fun for the kids to squirt water out of the hole in the bottom, but it's next to impossible to get all the water out at the end of bathtime. After a few months, the kids will be surprised when it's no longer water that they're squirting but green slime.
Clockwork toys can go rusty and seldom seem to work well in the first place. We've had ones that barely managed to move through the water and others which capsized in even mildly choppy seas.
Add to these problems the fact that smaller children will tip all their toys into the bath and then poo in it, and you have to wonder whether bath toys are really worth it. It's maybe best to stick to a collection of plastic bottles with easily removable lids. They may not be shaped like smiley dolphins but they still pour, bob and squirt, and when they start to get grotty, you can simply recycle them and replace them with fresh ones.
Conclusion: Suitable junk works just as well as anything you can buy (unless you actually enjoy guddling about in disinfectant with a toothbrush).
- Require lots of cleaning...
- ...and then go grotty in a couple of months anyway.
- Some old shampoo bottles are just as much fun.
- The shampoo bottles are cheaper.