There’s something about a water table for kids that simply seems to inspire new creativity levels 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.
Kid’s water tables are amazing toys. Friends can gather and splash together while developing fine motor and sensory skills, amongst other excellent benefits. We’ve looked at what we think are the best water tables available on the market today.
At the bottom of this article, we’ve added a buyer’s guide to 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.
We recommend the Step2 Rain Showers Splash Pond. This table brings the water park right to your backyard. It has a dual water layer and many different rearrangeable features such as rainfall, maze-like spinners, buckets, and ramps. It also has a side-flipper you can use to catapult your toys into the pond.
Best Sand & Water Combo Table
We recommend the Little Tikes Sandy Lagoon Sand & Water Table if you’re looking for a dual-medium table. With dual slides and a great sand cover, keeping dirt and the neighbors’ cat out, this water table for kids is sure to provide hours of educational fun.
Best Basic Water Table for Kids
If you’re looking for a fun yet straightforward water table for kids, we recommend the Little Tikes Frog Pond Water Table. It has a central water tower that looks like a lily pad, with two launchers on the side for the frogs to leap into the water.
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! 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 in 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.
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 that closely resembles a water-park, look no further than the Step2 Rain Showers Splash Pond Water Table. It has tons of features, including a rain simulator. It comes at a price but is bound to keep your toddler amused and engaged for hours.
What is a Kids Water Table?
For those of you who know, this might seem like a silly question. But for those of you who aren’t sure what a water table is, it’s quite simple to understand.
Picture a table high enough for a toddler to comfortably stand beside. The table is like a basin on feet. The basin could be split into two sections, which consist of water and sand, or it could just be one large water section. They all come in different shapes and sizes, with different features, such as a fountain, water tower, a lazy river, etc.
Benefits of a Water Table for Kids?
So what’s all the fuss about? As we’ve stated before, kids’ water tables are genuinely great “tools” to assist 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. Kids’ water tables are not just toys to pass the 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 guessing 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, teach them cause and effect, and start exposing them to concepts like momentum and inertia.
Concentration and Focus
Your child will become engrossed in their water table with all these new sounds, textures, motions, and concepts. Through this, you encourage them to engage their focus and increase their concentration spans, helping them later in life when your child begins formal studying at their schools.
Communication and Social Skills
Water tables for kids 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 excellent 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 toy from the water or empty a large bucket of water into a trough at the top of the tower, they will stretch their physical dexterity and improve their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
Our 10 Best Water Tables
1. Step2 Rain Showers Splash Pond Water Table for Kids
The Step2 Rain Showers Splash Pond is one of the best water tables for kids and doesn’t cut corners when creating opportunities for your kids to stretch their imaginations during sensory play. The manufacturer flaunts 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 fill with water with the large bucket that comes with the kit, creating a rainfall effect into the water table below as the water drips and runs through holes.
As the water drips back into the water table pond, maze-like spinners, buckets, and ramps are activated. You can rearrange these to create different fun effects. There’s also a side-flipper that can catapult toys back into the pond. The Rain Showers Splash Pond comes with 13 accessories: 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 many 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 looked 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.
Reasons to Buy the Step2 Rain Showers Splash Pond Water Table
2. Little Tikes Sandy Lagoon Sand & Water Table for Kids
The elevated Little Tikes Sandy Lagoon is a sand and water table combination for toddlers. They designed the table to have separate water and sand areas, though nothing prevents 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 an intelligent 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 two water slides, two 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 decide to use it indoors.
Reasons to Buy the Little Tikes Sandy Lagoon Sand & Water Table
3. Step2 Duck Dive Water Table for Kids
The Duck Dive water table by Step2 is an excellent design with some cool features that kids love. A spinner in the center of the water table creates a whirlpool for all your favorite bath toys to avoid. If you don’t want to share those, the table comes with two rubber ducks and a water-squirting frog!
On the edge of the table is a whirlpool water tower, complete with a water-wheel and a nice large water feeder at the top to at least attempt getting most of the water down the gully and not onto the floor. A “catapult” mounted to the side lets 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 rigid, though as with most toys with moving parts exposed to young kids, some reviewers report their toddlers manage to 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 could 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.
Reasons to Buy the Step2 Duck Dive Water Table
4. Little Tikes Frog Pond Water Table for Kids
The Little Tykes Frog Pond water table is an excellent basic water table for kids looking for just a basic wavetable with fewer frills but not less fun. The water table features a central tower fashioned like a lily-pad. Around the edges are two launchers where kids can launch their frogs into the water, or of course, onto the lily-pad as a bonus. A spinner on the other side will circulate the water around the table for a slow lazy-river effect when turned.
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 used.
Reasons to Buy the Little Tikes Frog Pond Water Table
5. Little Tikes Anchors Away Pirate Ship Water Table for Kids
Yo ho ho! Ahoy, me hearties. Weigh anchor and hoist the mizzen! The Little Tykes Anchors Away is undoubtedly the best water table, 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. You can circulate the water with a bit of a pump or pour it into the crows-nest at the top of the mast.
This one comes fully armed with a squirting water cannon and a skull and crossbones flag as with any proper pirate ship. The anchor can be lowered and raised by cranking the winch handle. They equipped the ship with an array of spinners that keep moving all the floating bits and debris around. Also included are two pirate characters and a shark to take care of the unfortunate mutineer that has to walk the plank.
This water table has only three legs, but it is sturdy, and this is not an issue that affects the table’s stability. They made the unit of quality materials. One reviewer on Amazon writing that after two years of use, the water cannon 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.
Reasons to Buy the Little Tikes Anchors Away Pirate Ship Water Table
6. Step2 Fiesta Cruise Sand & Water Table with Umbrella
The Fiesta Cruise Sand & Water Table for kids is another dual-sided play table for toddlers to explore water and sand simultaneously. They shaped the table in a cruise ship, which will get their imaginations going off the bat! This is one of the best water tables we’ve looked at that comes with its umbrella as an added feature. 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 nine accessories, including cruise ship crew figures. There’s a slide at the ship’s stern where crew members, or any other toys from the toy box, can slide into the water pond.
The ship’s bow 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, because it keeps the sand clean when the toy is not in use, such as keeping 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 of water and 40 lbs 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 entirely by just pulling the plug. Pick it up and tilt it around to get all the water to run out. Still, this is one of the best water tables for kids available on the market.
Reasons to Buy the Step2 Fiesta Cruise Sand & Water Table with Umbrella
7. Little Tikes Spiralin’ Seas Waterpark Water Table for Kids
The Little Tykes Spiralin’ Seas Waterpark 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 their 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 it is easy to make and can be done in as little as 15 minutes. As with all Little Tykes toys, the table’s plastic is durable and will last for years, especially if properly cared for. Not uncommon in even the best water tables, this one sometimes 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!
Reasons to Buy the Little Tikes Spiralin’ Seas Waterpark Water Table
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, you are applying some common sense, and exercising good judgment is vital in deciding when, how frequently, and how to clean your kids’ water table. Sand tables, especially, can quickly 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. It won’t 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 dishwashing liquid and hot water. Use a brush that can get into the groves and hard-to-reach spots created by the accessories. It’s how you clean the dishes you eat from.
If you want to clean your water table, especially if your kids use it for group play or share it with other children, we recommend disinfecting 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 an extended amount of harsh direct sunlight will shorten their lifespan. Sun brittles plastic and it will decolor and fracture over time. If you live in an area with extreme 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.
Many water and sand table combinations come with some sort of cover for the sand area; this is designed 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 find a strong weather-resistant cover online, have one custom-made, or simply make one from a cardboard box.
Tips to Make Water Table Play Even More Fun
So you’ve bought that water table for your kids, and they’ve spun the spinny-thingies and made everything that can slide down the slide, slide down the slide. What can you do to spice it up for them again a bit? Here are a few pro tips.
Yes, the easiest and cheapest option is to add a squirt of bubble-bath or even dishwashing detergent to the water. Sit back and watch your kids have hours of newfound fun with the bubbles.
Another easy, cheap, and fun option is to color the water. You can use a food colorant or even water paint. Make sure it’s non-toxic, and remember, you probably need no more than a drop to turn the water into that hue of purple and let their imaginations do the rest. Note: remember some colorants could stain or be hard to wash out of clothing!
Yup, buy some non-toxic water beads – like these Marvel Beads Water Beads Rainbow Mix – and add them to your water table. They are fun and provide a completely new sensory experience for your child. Even though they’re non-toxic, make sure your child is old enough to understand how to play with them safely.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are Water Tables Used for?
Water tables are used as a tool for sensory development in young children. It exposes them to different sensations and textures, which stimulates their brain. In the end, it also allows your children to have a sense of discovery and encourages them to be inquisitive.
How do Water Tables work?
Water tables are very easy to use. Most water tables have a basin that can be separated into two sections: water and sand. To get started, you fill the basin and let your child explore.
How do You Store a Water Table?
To store a water table, you’ll want to clean and dry it first. To ensure no mold or fungi can grow on it. If it required assembly, you could disassemble the table, so it requires less space to store.