Unstructured Water Play for Toddlers

Unstructured Water Play for Toddlers

When James was younger we realised that he doesn’t need a bath every day, as the baby manuals would have you believe, in order to establish a good bed time routine. But it is useful to have a period of calm, relaxation before bed. I prefer James to have time away from screens during this time, and so we do quiet puzzles, or occasionally water play.

We sometimes set up a little ‘kitchen’ in the living room. I give James a little bowl of water and let his imagination take the lead. James pours us cups of tea from his teapot, or makes waterfalls, or he washes his cars.

So tonight, as the weather brightened up towards the evening, James was itching to go outside, but I could see that if we went too far or too structured, he’d get over tired. Not very long ago we bought a water play table from Smyths. It’s fantastic – it has a lid, a castle, bridges, boats and a watering can among other toys and tools.


James absolutely loved the idea of playing outside for a while after dinner. Please excuse the pasta Bolognaise around his chops!


He spent a good thirty minutes pouring water into and out off all the cups, castles and boats.  Then I put him to use for a little while.


I actually hadn’t realised what a dry day it was. I’d have nipped out during Noah’s nap to mow the lawn, had I known. Or is that a massive no-no? I saw a huge discussion on Facebook about not leaving sleeping children in the car to pay for petrol. Anyway, I digress…


watering can smyths water play table

Very useful, and such a cute watering can!

So, all in all, this was a fabulous bit of outdoor play, perfect for a sunny evening and a nice wind-down before bed. It allowed me to potter around in the kitchen, doing the dishes after our meal, too.  I think that’s such a nice feeling, when I don’t have to do chores after James’ bedtime.

smyths water table play

Pouring water from castle to cup

stacking cup symths water table

A cup with holes in – is it still a cup?!


Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall



  1. Twinlifeonline
    May 23, 2015 / 5:31 am

    Sounds like a nice evening. We love water play too. James looks engrossed in his exploration and fun. #countrykids

    • May 23, 2015 / 7:24 am

      So simple but got him outside and having fun for a little while!

  2. May 23, 2015 / 7:46 am

    Water play is a great idea for a wind down activity after tea, there’s definitely something relaxing about water. It’s great that James enjoyed this treat (and you even got your plants watered for you). It’s great that you got some good weather to enjoy, let’s hope it lasts now! Thanks for linking up with Country Kids.

    • May 23, 2015 / 8:06 am

      Yes, the sun is shining here this morning too. Love it when the sun has his hat on 🙂

  3. May 23, 2015 / 9:44 am

    A great alternative to bath time before bed time! My older two used to love water trays, they’ve now moved on to full-on water gun fights and I don’t think that’s very useful for winding down 😀


    • May 23, 2015 / 9:55 am

      Haha, no! Squirting with water guns is the very opposite to winding down!

  4. May 24, 2015 / 8:20 pm

    Such a nice way to relax kids! I dont bathe my son every night too as he tends to get sick when I do it almost every night. We read books and the weather is really getting warmer so we might do something like this too! #countrykids

  5. May 25, 2015 / 10:32 am

    My eldest has sensory issues and loves to play with water, but for some reason I had never thought of using it as a calming after-dinner activity, so thanks for this post, a great idea. #countrykids

    • May 25, 2015 / 11:46 am

      Thank you, the noise of trickling water is very soothing, I think. Hope you find it useful 🙂

  6. dontcallmestepmummy
    May 26, 2015 / 9:38 pm

    Awww lovely, I literally looked at Judah’s water tray this evening as we came in the back door and thought, it’s getting time for that again. Great photos xxx #countrykids

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