There’s something about a water table for kids that simply seem to inspire new levels of creativity and play in toddlers. If you’ve ever watched kids play in puddles after the rain you’d understand why bringing the puddle to them would be one of the most joyful things you can do for your kid. Kids water tables are amazing toys. Friends can gather and splash together while developing fine motor and sensory skills, amongst other amazing benefits. We’ve taken a look at what we think are the best water tables available on the market today.
At the bottom of this article, we’ve added a buyers guide that will help you understand what to look for when making a water table purchase decision. We’ve also added a few tips on how to up the fun beyond just water, and how to take care of your water table for kids to ensure your toddler enjoys it for years to come and still be able to pass it onto someone else afterward.
Best Sand & Water Combo Table
If you’re looking for a dual-medium table we’ll recommend the Little Tikes Sandy Lagoon Sand & Water Table. With dual slides and a great sand cover tho keep dirt and the neighbors’ cat out, this table is sure to provide hours of educational fun.
Best Basic Water Table for Kids
If you’re looking for a no-frills table that doesn’t have things that break easily, we recommend you check out the Little Tykes Frog Pond water table for kids. While this table does not have all the accessories of some of the others on this list, it will still stretch your kids’ imagination for hours. Loads of fun!
Best Value For Money
At under $40 our Top Pick, the Duck Dive Water Table is pretty hard to beat for value. It is a durable, stable, and long-lasting water table with some cool accessories. It’s bound to be the best $40 you’ve spent in a long time.
Best Pirate Ship Water Table for Kids
Ahoy Matey! Avast Ye. If you like pirates, as we do, then the Little Tykes Anchors Away water table is the booty you’ve always wanted. It is no hornswoggle and your kid will love it. Remember, it’s always more fun being a pirate than being the navy.
Best Water Table with an Umbrella
Water tables are loads of fun and chances are once you have one, your kid will spend hours around it. If the sun’s out it simply makes sense to put an umbrella over them to cover them from harmful UV rays. The Fiesta Cruise Sand & Water Table for kids comes with a built-in umbrella stand and umbrella. Highly recommended.
Best Themed Water Table for Kids
There are quite a few water-tables on this list that are well-themed, but if you’re looking for something closely resembles a water-park, look no further than the Step2 Rain Showers Splash Pond Water Table. It has tonnes of features including a rain simulator. It comes a price but is bound to keep your toddler amused and engaged for hours.
Why Buy a Kids Water Table?
So what’s the fuss about? What are the benefits of buying a water table for kids, if any? Well, as it happens, and as we’ve stated before, kids water tables are truly great “tools” to assist with your kids’ development in several key areas.
Water, sand, wet sand, plastic figurines, spinning wheels, spiral towers, lazy river, waterfall sounds. Your kids’ water table will introduce your child to new textures, sounds, sights, and temperatures. It will challenge your toddler to use multiple senses at once to explore as they splash, dig, and laugh together. Water tables for kids are not just toys to pass time and have fun, they will continuously learn through seeing, feeling, and hearing new things.
Water tables expose your toddler to physics concepts like flow and motion. Teach them by having them guess what will happen when a pirate figurine is placed atop a water slide and squirted with water from behind. Spinners, water-wheels, and slides are great ways to stimulate STEM learning and teach them cause and effect and start exposing them to concepts like momentum and inertia.
Language and Social Skills
Water tables are great for group play. Gathering around a water table and splashing together inspires kids to talk, role-play, negotiate, and take turns on different parts of the table. They will experiment together and expand their vocabulary with cool new words like “squirt” “spout” “trough” and “maelstrom”
Physical and Motor Skills
A water table for kids is an excellent tool to assist in your child’s physical development. When they scoop a floating tool from the water or empty a large bucket of water into a trough at the top of the tower, they will not only stretch their physical dexterity but also improve their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
1. Step2 Duck Dive Water Table
The Duck Dive water table for kids by Step2 is a great design with some cool features that kids love. In the center of the table water table is a spinner that creates a whirlpool for all your favorite bath toys to avoid. If you don’t want to share those, the table comes with 2 rubber ducks and a water-squirting frog!
On the edge of the table is a whirlpool water tower, complete with water-wheel and a nice large water feeder at the top to at least make an attempt of getting most of the water down the gully and not onto the floor. A “catapult” mounted to the side let kids launch any toys that escaped the table back into the fun with some flair.
The Duck Dive is a great basic no-frills water table. It is sturdy and tough, though as with most toys with moving parts exposed to young kids, some reviewers do report that their toddlers manage to pretty quickly break off or remove the spinner or the catapult.
The table is sturdy enough for a toddler to lean on and easy to assemble – some reviewers saying they were able to do it in under 5 minutes. There are no screws and everything just snaps into place. The table is of course fitted with a no-leak drain plug. It holds 4 gallons (15.1 L) of water.
3 Reasons To Buy It
2. Little Tikes Sandy Lagoon Sand & Water Table
The elevated Little Tikes Sandy Lagoon is a sand and water table combination for toddlers. The table is designed to have separate water and sand areas, though there’s nothing preventing you from filling both with either water or sand of course. The table is sturdy and holds up to 50 lbs of sand and 4 gallons of water. The sand area has a nifty plastic cover to protect and keep it clean when not in use. It’s a smart way to keep dirt and the neighbors’ cat out of your sand table.
The Sandy Lagoon water table for kids comes with a central tower that sports 2 water slides, 2 diving boards, and a dump bucket. Also included is a sand spinner and showed rake combination for sand-art and play. As with most water table designs, the Little Tikes Sandy Lagoon has a built-in drain plug to make cleaning a breeze. The table is relatively easy to assemble, 20-45 minutes depending on your toy-assembly-skill levels.
The tower in the center of the Sand Lagoon table doesn’t seal watertight so this table is probably not suited for indoor use. You should expect water, and even some sand, to leak through the tower hole and onto the floor, so drop a sheet or towel under the table if you do decide to use it indoors.
3 Reasons to Buy It
3. Little Tikes Frog Pond Water Table for Kids
The Little Tykes Frog Pond water table is a great basic water table for kids looking for just a basic wavetable with fewer frills but not less fun. The water table features a center-tower, fashioned like a lily-pad. Around the edges, there are 2 launchers from where kids can launch their frogs into the water, or of course onto the lily-pad as a bonus. There’s a spinner on the other side, that when turned, will circulate the water around the table for a slow lazy-river effect.
Even though it weighs only 4 lbs, the table is sturdy and easy to assemble. It holds 7 gallons of water and has a drain plug for easy cleaning. Some reviewers mentioned that outdoor debris and leaves stained the plastic when left outside for prolonged periods so consider covering it when not in use.
3 Reasons To Buy It
4. Step2 Rain Showers Splash Pond Water Table
The Step2 Rain Showers Splash Pond is one of the best water tables for kids and doesn’t cut corners when it comes to creating opportunities for your kids to stretch their imaginations during sensory play. The manufacturer flaunts that this table will “create a mini water park right in your backyard”, and there’s at least some merit to that claim. This dual-layer water-table has a large catchment trough at the top that kids can scoop full of water with the large bucket that comes with the kit. This creates a rainfall effect into the water table below as the water drips and runs through holes at the top.
As the water drips back into the water table pond, maze-like spinners, buckets, and ramps are activated. These can be rearranged to create different fun effects. There’s also a side-flipper that can be used to catapult toys back into the pond. The Rain Showers Splash Pond comes with 13 accessories including, a duck, frog, fish, strainer, and the maze and spinning pieces used to create their fantasy waterfalls. This is arguably one of the best water tables if you’re looking for something with a lot of parts and possibilities for creative play.
The water table is sturdy with one reviewer saying that her 2-year old uses it as a mini splash-pool and it has never look wobbly even with that kind of use. It is relatively easy to assemble but does not come with any pre-drilled holes, so be prepared to drill a few holes in the plastic to get it set up.
3 Reasons To Buy It
5. Little Tikes Anchors Away Pirate Ship
Yo ho ho! Ahoy, me hearties. Weigh anchor and hoist the mizzen! The Little Tykes Anchors Away is undoubtedly the best water table, that is also a pirate ship… at least in the minds of the lads and lassies gathered around. We just love the theme of this water table for kids.
The water can be circulated with a little pump or by pouring it into the crows-nest at the top of the mast.
As with any proper pirate-ship, this one comes fully armed with a squirting water-canon and a skull and crossbones flag. The anchor can be lowered and raised by cranking the winch handle. The ship is equipped with an array of spinners that keep moving all the floating bits and debris around. Also included are 2 pirate characters and a shark to take care of the unfortunate mutineer that has to walk the plank.
This water table has only 3 legs, but it is sturdy and this is not an issue that affects the stability of the table. The unit is made of quality materials with one reviewer on Amazon writing that after 2 years of use the water canon still works with no degradation of the plastic and no leakage. The table comes with a drainage plug and is relatively easy to assemble, but has no pre-drilled holes in the plastic, so you will have to drill a few holes to insert the screws that attach the legs to the table.
3 Reasons To Buy It
6. Little Tikes Spiralin’ Seas Waterpark Water Table
The Litte Tykes Spiralin’ Seas Waterpark water table for kids will provide hours and hours of fun to your toddler. It’s a pretty basic water table without too many gimmicks (or things that can break depending on how you see it!) but with loads of room for your kid to stretch his or her imagination.
The water table comes with a spiraling center tower and 5 “squirting character balls”. Water and balls can be thrown down the gullet atop the tower to spiral to the bottom and into the water pond, where they can circle the tower in the lazy river. There’s a small Ferris Wheel that can scoop up the balls and drop them off again, improving your kids’ coordination and motor skills.
The water table holds 7 gallons of water. Some people have difficulty assembling the swirl tower but in general; it is easy to assemble and can be done in as little as 15 minutes. The plastic of the table, as with all Little Tykes toys are durable and will last for years, especially if taken care of properly. Not uncommon in even the best water tables, this one sometimes also leaks water through the center.
The center tower funnel is large enough to move the balls through, and of course water, but your kids will inevitably throw all kinds of other things down the gullet, so expect to have to clear out some blockages from time to time!
3 Reasons To Buy It
7. Step2 Fiesta Cruise Sand & Water Table with Umbrella
The Fiesta Cruise Sand & Water Table for kids is another dual-sided play table for toddlers wanting to explore water and sand at the same time. The table is shaped in the form of a cruise ship, which will get their imaginations going off the bat! As an added feature this is one of the best water tables we’ve looked at that comes with its own umbrella. Whether you take it to the beach or just want to keep your kid going in the backyard on those sunny days, you’re bound to appreciate it.
The table comes with 9 accessories including cruise ship crew figures. There’s a slide at the stern of the ship from where crew members (or any other toys from the toy-box!) can slide into the water pond.
The bow of the ship is the sand area, covered with a sturdy plastic lid shaped like the ship tower and cabins. The lid has a more practical purpose of course in that it keeps the sand clean when the toy is not in use. It’s meant to keep out leaves., grime or the neighbors’ cat. The accessories are well-made and provide enough variety to hold your kids’ attention for a while.
The table is sturdy, it can hold up to 3 gallons (11 L) of water and 40 lbs (18kg) of sand, and is easy to assemble. The bottom of the water pond has grooves causing grime to get stuck and form there so it’ll need a good scrubbing from time-to-time. Also, for some obscure reason, because of the grooves, the drain plug is slightly elevated making it hard to drain the water pond completely by just pulling the plug. You have to pick it up and tilt it around to get all the water to run out. Still, this is still one of the best water tables for kids available on the market.
3 Reasons To Buy It
How To Buy the Best Water Table For Kids
If you’re looking to make a smart purchase decision and buy the best water available for your kid, there are a few things you should keep in mind. If you pick the right table these can provide fun for years, and still be in good enough shape to pass down to somebody else.
First, make sure you pick a table that’s age-appropriate. All manufacturers will specify a recommended age for their water table. This usually starts at around 18 months and goes up to 6 years. It is however not uncommon for kids to start enjoying a water table as soon as they can pull themselves up and balance by holding onto the sides. If you do decide to start your child earlier, we’d recommend you only do so under constant supervision or at the very least, only add a little water to the pond for their safety. You can buy a water table for kids specifically for small toddlers.
Bear in mind though that these are designed to provide years of entertainment – and kids will easily keep playing in them till age 6 or more. If you buy a small “baby table” they may outgrow it fast and you’ll end up digging into your pocket again. Even adults are known to have fun around these!
Water tables are not complex toys, and most of the best water tables share the same design features. Some just do them better and a little differently from others. Here are the ones you do need to focus on when reading reviews and researching your potential purchase.
Height – Knowing what the top of the rim of your water table is will help you understand whether your kid will be able to reach, or whether the table may be obnoxiously low for your child who may have already outgrown it. Also, most kids water tables have a tower feature that you can pour water into. Make sure you understand how high the top of the tower is. Your child may not be tall enough to reach the top yet, causing them to constantly pull on the table – and possibly pulling it over- in an attempt to make the little spinny-thingies spin.
Weight – Almost every water table for kids is made of hard-wearing plastic, so they’re not too heavy. That being said, if you’d going to have to move it around often for storage or whatever reason, make sure you can safely and comfortably lift it. Some of the larger models do get a bit weighty.
Footprint – Water tables vary in size. If you have limited space, like an apartment balcony for example for your kid to play on, then take a peek at the dimensions and the “footprint” of the table before making a purchase. You want to be sure you don’t end up with it in the middle of the living room because it doesn’t fit anywhere else!
Sturdiness – your kids will pull on it, the will lean over it, they will most likely climb on it or in it. That’s what kids do. Fortunately for you the manufacturers of the water tables know and understand this, so most of the best water tables are designed to be super sturdy and bear some additional weight. You know your child, you decide how much weight you want to give to this.
Drainage – Most water tables come with a drainage plug, making it easy to empty the water pond when the time comes to put it away., the most common complaints about water drainage plugs is that they sometimes fall out, that kids keep on removing them too easily, or that they may be slightly elevated and not properly designed to drain all the water. Make sure you read our, and other user reviews to catch these issues if they do exist.
Assembly – While some water tables are designed to simply “click together” without having to use any tools or screws, most will require you to at least attach the legs to the body with a few screws. There are quite a few models on the market that don’t come with pre-drilled holes for the screws, which we find odd. So, you’ll end up having to drill those yourself. Regardless, water tables are very simple to assemble in general so no, this is not going to turn into a failed Ikea assembly!
The best water table for kids is not necessarily the one with the most accessories. Yes, some cool accessories definitely help to kick-start your child’s imagination and it provides more shapes and textures for them to play with. In some cases, it might make more sense for you to just prioritize a basic water table and let your child come up with how they want to use it. If you’re on a budget, remember bathtub toys, and quite frankly most toys that he or she already has that can get wet all make for good accessories to a basic water table.
Water and Sand?
Do you need a water and sand table? Well, that’s totally your call. Combination sand and water tables are a great way of adding another medium to your toddler’s sensory play and the possibilities of what they can do on the table multiplies. If you’re a bit OCD though, make no mistake, your kids will mix the water and sand to their heart’s content. We think that’s great! Make peace with that before you buy a sand and water table combination.
Having an umbrella stand is becoming a more common feature in the best water tables. If you think about it, it makes sense. If you’re going to be leaving the kids water table out in the backyard on a sunny summer day, this is a smart way of not only protecting your child against harmful UV rays but also help preserve the plastic that the table is made from. It also helps not having to struggle to plant an umbrella on the lawn or a hard patio surface. The built-in umbrella stand keeps it upright for you. There really is no downside in taking this option if you can. If you don’t want or need the umbrella, simply don’t set it up!
How to Clean and Care for Your Sand and Water Table
Keeping your water and sand table clean and hygienic is essential to your kids’ health and the enjoyment of this toy. As with any other toy, applying some commons sense and exercising good judgment is important in deciding when, how frequently, and how to clean your kids water table. Sand tables, especially, can easily become a trap for all kinds of unwanted germs and bugs.
We recommend that you disinfect your water table regularly, but here are some other common-sense ways to help take care of your kids water table.
Hose it Down
If your water table spends most of its time outside, and you’re lucky enough to have a yard and some room then we recommend starting by at least hosing it down from time to time. This won’t necessarily kill germs, but it will remove mud, access sand, and surface grime.
Wash with Warm Water and Soap
Next up, depending on how you use the table, find some time to wash it with regular dishwasher liquid and hot water. Use a brush that can get into the groves and hard-to-reach spots created by the accessories. It’s after all how you clean the dishes you eat from.
If you really want to clean your water table, and especially if your kids use it for group play or share it with other children, then we recommend you disinfect it regularly. Use 200 ppm chlorine or 400 ppm quaternary ammonium and let the disinfectant sit on the toy and in the tub for a few minutes before rinsing. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s recommendations on using disinfectants on their toys.
Keep it Out of the Sun
Almost all water tables for kids are made from durable plastic. They can weather the elements for years, but a lot of harsh direct sunlight will shorten their lifespan. Sun brittles plastic and it will start to decolor and fracture over time. If you live in an area with harsh summer conditions, we recommend you position your water table in the shade or carry it indoors during summer.
Change the Sand
If you have a sand and water table combination, take special care of the sand area. Sift the sand regularly to get rid of any debris. Use your best judgment about when to change the sand completely. When in doubt, just change the sand! It’s cheap and easy to come by.
A lot of water and sand table combinations come with some sort of cover for the sand area. This is specifically intended to keep dirt, debris, and the neighborhood animals out of the sand. It’s not a bad idea to cover your entire kids water table though. You may be able to find a strong weather-resistant cover online, have one custom made, or simply make one from a cardboard box.