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The Benefits of Water Play

Remember how much you used to enjoy playing in the water back when you were a kid—how excited you'd be whenever you got to spend the day at the beach or the pool?

Now that you are a parent, you can share the magic of water play with your child. And not only will your child be having fun: he’ll be learning and growing at the same time.

Four ways water play encourages healthy development

Sure, kids and water make for a guaranteed good time, but water play is not just fun and games. Here are four powerful and far-reaching ways that water play can help promote your child’s healthy development.

1. Water play encourages physical development

Water play is the ultimate full-body workout. “Water provides resistance, which helps to build strength,” explains Claire Lerner, Senior Parenting Advisor with ZERO TO THREE. And, she notes, the benefits of water play multiply when your child is wading or swimming because being immersed in water means that he’ll have to work on all-important balance and coordination skills, too.

2. Water play encourages kids to get social—and in a way that helps to minimize conflict

Kids don’t have to fight over water because there’s enough water to go around. Consequently, water play “can require less intensive sharing than if you’re sitting on the floor with a bunch of trains and everybody wants the caboose,” explains Lerner. And, what’s more, the soothing properties of water can help kids to regulate their emotions and behavior, meaning that conflicts are even less likely to erupt.

3. Water play encourages discovery

It’s no wonder your budding scientist is fascinated with water. There are so many scientific principles to discover—everything from watching how water reacts when you swoosh it around to trying to predict what will sink or float (a sponge versus a boat). And, as an added bonus, it's budget-friendly discovery play. You don’t need a rush out to buy a whole bunch of new toys. Simply use what you already own, including ordinary household items like plastic measuring cups.

4. Water play encourages creativity and imagination

Think about what happens whenever you have a group of kids romping around in the water: how imagination tends to take over. “You see kids making up games about who’s the shark and who’s the dolphin,” says Lerner. This kind of role-playing gives kids the opportunity to work on a broad range of skills. It encourages storytelling and promotes language skills and perspective-taking abilities (the ability to see things from another person’s point of view).

As you can see, the benefits of water play are pretty far-reaching. “Water play nurtures all areas of development,” says Lerner. “That’s the beauty of it. It’s not one-dimensional.”

Getting started

Ready to make a splash?

Here’s how to get started with water play.

  • Look for quick and easy ways to incorporate water play into your family’s regular routine (think bathtub or kitchen sink).
  • Round out those home-based water play experiences by seeking out water play activities in your community (at the local rec center) and beyond (by choosing a hotel with a pool the next time you’re traveling as a family, for example).

Don’t forget to tote along some Huggies® Little Swimmers® Disposable Swimpants, as many pools require them if your child isn't yet potty-trained. Be sure to always remember to pay extra close attention to safety when your child is playing in or around water, stay within arms reach and eliminate distractions like smartphones. 

Image : Getty

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