The Pillow Game Keeps Kids Busy While You Lay Down

Think of this after-bath game as a mash-up of 'Guess The Animal' and 'Peekaboo'.

by Alexis Barad-Cutler

“Pillow” is a fun after-bath game that’s kind of a mash-up between “Guess The Animal” and “Peekaboo.” It also serves a couple of purposes. One, it ensures that a kid is totally dry before climbing into his or her pajamas. Two, it keeps water in the bathroom, which is kind of a big deal in and of itself. It’s also one of the activities for kids that’s pretty chill for adults.

My youngest son and I came up with this game when he was a toddler. Honestly, I think I invented the game at least in part because I wanted to lie down. At the time, I was extremely sleep deprived. You know those old Warner Bros. cartoons where a character like Wile E. Coyote is starving and just wants to eat Roadrunner, and everything he looks at starts to resemble a cooked Thanksgiving turkey? Well, that was my mental state when I created “Pillow.” Everything looked like a nice place to rest, including my son, immediately post-bath, as he lay on the floor with his towel draped over him. And you know what? It worked, as both a bonding experience and a good wind-down routine when the day was almost done.

Prep Time: 0

Entertainment Time: 3-8 minutes (or however long you can keep it going)Energy Expended By Child: Moderate

What You’ll Need:

  • A bath mat or soft surface for child to lie on after bath
  • A fluffy towel (preferably hooded, because it just works better)
  • A bathtub and a (reasonably) clean child

How To Play:

When your kid is finished bathing and in a towel, you tell them, “We’re going to play ‘Pillow’!’” Next, you lay your head on their back (as if your kid were a pillow) and you say something like, “Wow! What a great pillow this is!” After a few blissful moments of rest, your “pillow” will likely start to move. At this point, you will act incredulous and wonder aloud as to how on Earth this wonderful pillow of yours could be wiggling.

From here, your kid will act out the part of an animal or creature stuck in a pillowcase (read: towel), while you guess what they’re pretending to be. Think of it as charades, but if you played charades while stuck in terrycloth. Make a lot of guesses while giving your kid ideas. Are those wings? Are those talons? Is that a mane? If you get it right, your kid will probably find a way of letting you know. You can play this guessing game over and over again until it’s pajama time. By that point, the kid should be dry.

It’s worth noting that this game was invented to help kids dry off, but it can be played totally (and clothed) with a pillowcase or blanket. I like the towel approach myself, but it really works in any situation where the parent can lie down.

Wrap Up:

I love that this game allows the players to engage in imaginative play and some gentle physical play that’s not too stimulating before bedtime. I like that when we play it, I usually don’t have to fight about putting on pajamas, because it feels like we’ve transitioned between bath to pajama time (instead of rushing from one thing to another). Bedtime can sometimes feel like a factory line of tasks for both parent and child, but games like this extend out moments in meaningful ways. Also, did I mention the part where you get to lie down?