Keeping your kids entertained and happy can feel like a full time job, especially over the summer months. But it’s actually important for children’s development to learn how to entertain themselves. A water table is an excellent tool for this. Water activity tables allow children to splash around in water – which almost every child loves – as well as engage their brains in creative development and their hands in growing dexterity. We have done the research and come up with lots of fun choices, so read on to discover the best water tables for kids and toddlers.
Water Tables Explained
A water table is simply a shallow trough on legs, raised to a comfortable height for children. Users fill the trough with water and allow children to splash and play in it. Your water table may contain various dips and swells, pathways for directing water, and other elements that encourage creative play. Typically this is an activity best done outdoors, but some parents also like to set one up in the tub to let children play there.
Beyond improving coordination and cognitive skills, playing in a water table supports a child’s understanding of weight, balance, and logic. Believe it or not, water tables also help introduce your youngster to mathematical ideas as they work with concepts like equal to, less than, and more than. To succeed with some of the activities or tasks on the table, children need to measure, pour, tip, and splash strategically.
Most of the tables on our list come with accessories including buckets, figurines, and suction toys. As kids utilize these tools, they also act out various scenarios that build imagination and creativity. What’s not to love about this incredible toy?
What to Look for in a Water Table?
There are so many different styles and themes of water activity tables to choose from, but there are a few considerations that can influence your choice.
To truly get the most out of your water table, it should be able to do double duty and handle both sand and water. (Other great dry materials include grain, rice, and pasta.) This is helpful when the weather gets cold or boredom sets in.
You need your water table to fit comfortably in the space you have designated for it. That means that there is enough room around all sides for children to sidle up to it.
Most of the water tables on our list are recommended for kids from 18 months up to 5 or 10 years, so you want one that can grow with them over many years. That means making sure that the connections are sturdy enough to keep your table standing strong as long as you need it.
Water Table Accessories
The cherry on top of a cool water table is the included accessories. These can include buckets, figurines, slides, waterfalls, lazy rivers, and diving boards, flippers, and launchers, among other creative toys. Choose a water table that has a nice set of accessories that go along with the chosen theme.
In most cases, you will definitely want your children outdoors when they play with the water table. But it’ll last a lot longer if it gets stored properly during frigid winter months, and for that reason, you may need to move your water table every so often. You may also want to move it around the yard as certain areas become soggy with water or trampled by feet.
Other Factors to Consider Before Buying a Water Table
Before you buy, consider the following additional factors.
The Age of Your Child
As much as kids of all ages love to play in water, a water table is not a good idea for any child too young to stand on their own indefinitely. For that reason, they are generally not recommended for one year old children. That said, there are definitely tables that cater to younger children (see the Paw Patrol model, below) and those that appeal more to older children, such as any of the models with rainfall action.
Number of Players
If you have the space for a larger table, it definitely provides the most opportunity for children to play together with their siblings or friends. You may also want to ensure that the built-in activities on the water table are evenly distributed around it, so that all players have access to something fun.
DrainageIt is important to change the water in your water table regularly to avoid a stagnant mess. Many of the tables on our list have a drainage site underneath, allowing you to drain the table without tipping it over. Keep drainage in mind as you choose the location for your table so as not to flood areas where water will stand on the ground outdoors (or destroy your flooring indoors).
Best Water Tables for Kids & Toddlers on the Market Review
Let’s dig into in-depth reviews of the best water tables on the market today.
1 Step2 Rain Showers Splash Pond Water Table | Kids Water Play Table with 13-Pc Accessory Set
With spinners, ramps, and waterfalls – all customizable in many different configurations – there is no end to the fun with this water table. Kids will delight in the rainfall action that occurs when they scoop water in the included bucket and empty it into an upper trough. As the water pours down, maze-style spinners and ramps are activated to create a cascading waterfall.
This is a sizable table that has plenty of room for multiple children to play together. The included 13-piece accessory pack has one large bucket, two small buckets, three spinners, two ramps, one cattail scoop, one springboard flipper, one rubber duck and two squirt toys (frog and fish).
The flared legs provide great stability, and when the play is over, simply drain the table from the no-leak drain plug underneath. This product is constructed in the United States of American and imported parts.
2 Little Tikes Anchors Away Pirate Ship
Ahoy, matey! This pirate-themed water table is loaded with features to thrill young children. Water can be moved through a pump or poured into the crow’s nest. Players can also aim and squirt water through the water cannon and raise and lower the anchor by cranking a handle. Spinners create interesting currents.
Accessories include two pirate characters, a shark, one plastic inner tube, two scoops, a bucket, and a skull and crossbones flag. The design is boat-shaped with broad legs for stability and activities spaced evenly around the perimeter.
3 American Plastic Toys Sand & Water Wheel Play Table
From American Plastic Toys comes this double-duty water table. It can also work as a sand table if you prefer, and even contain sand and water at the same time in different compartments. The sand pit can serve as a boat ramp when it contains water. There is also a water wheel that spins when a child dumps water through a spout at the top.
Accessories include two sailboats and a water pitcher, as well as the removable tower. It is a smaller, roughly triangular table that nevertheless offers space for up to three children to play at once. The construction is safe, with BPA and phthalate-free plastic.
One of the nicest features of this product is that there is no need to drill through plastic during installation. The parts all easily snap together. This table is made in the USA from all-American parts and materials.
4 Paw Patrol Water Table with Accessory Set & 3 Characters
Younger kids will absolutely delight in this Paw Patrol-themed water table. They can recreate Paw Patrol activities with Ryder and the gang, including using the lookout tower to find doggies in distress and speeding down the water slide to complete the rescue. A water launcher targets the bad guys, and there is even a water spinner to create whirlpool action.
This is a circular table that comes with 3 of your child’s favorite Paw Patrol characters. Each of the figures can squirt water as well. You additionally get a water strainer, water cup, and table springboard. Due to the theme, this table is ideal for preschoolers.
Adult assembly is required but users describe the process as easy. This table is made in the USA but may contain some imported parts. It can double as a dry table using rice or beans when desired.
5 Step2 Rain Showers & Unicorns Water Table | Kids Purple Water Play Table with 13-Pc Unicorn Accessory Set
This water table features a bright color scheme of pastel purple and blue with unicorn accessories. It also has a rain shower effect when water is poured into the upper trough – this also activates the spinner, ramps, and buckets below. The maze pieces at bottom are able to be arranged in many different configurations, supporting all-important STEM play. Kids will especially enjoy the flipper that launches the unicorn toys into the central pond.
A great set of accessories include 4 maze attachments, 3 unicorn figurines, 2 cups, 1 bucket, 1 paddle wheel, 1 flipper, and 1 cattail scoop. Kids and parents alike will enjoy the attention to detail, as the purple basin and sea blue legs all feature fanciful etchings.
This is a sturdy, heavy table that can grow well with your child. This product is made in the USA from American and imported parts.
6 Step2 Dino Dig Sand & Water Table
For dino-loving kids, this water table really fits the bill. It is a two-sided table with compartments for both water and sand. When kids pour water into the top of the volcano, it gushes down Ash Mountain and finally “erupts”. The realistic palm tree detail provides a great place for the playing dinosaurs to gather in the shade around the local watering hole.
Using the included two-sided shovel/rake, children can sift down through the sand to find molded-in dinosaur bones and footprints at the bottom of the tray. An additional two buckets come with your purchase as well as four dinosaur figures.
One of the nicer features of this table is the volcano rock lid, which can keep water, debris, and curious critters from getting into the table when it’s not in use. This product is good for five year old children down to two year old tikes.
7 Little Tikes Fish 'n Splash Water Table
For hours of fishing fun, try this table from Little Tikes. It comes with a fishing pole, 5 floating critters to “catch,” a water cup, and a fishing net. An additional activity is using the launcher to aim the critters onto a spinning lily pad located at the center of the table. Your kids will also love filling up the attached fish bowl until it tips over and splashes out in a wave.
This table is great for toddlers to develop fine motor skills. Help them develop number literacy by encouraging them to count their catches before releasing them. Children will also enjoy naming the different aquatic creatures they can net. The accessories include 1 fishing pole, 1 fish net, 1 cup, 1 turtle, 1 crab, 1 frog, and 2 colorful fish.
A blessing for parents, this table requires no tools to assemble! If you prefer a dry table, it can hold up to 50 lbs. of sand instead of water. This product is recommended for two year old kids and up.
8 Little Tikes Spiralin' Seas Waterpark Play Table
This unique water table is designed to help kids develop early motor skills while also stretching their creative muscles. They can drop the included balls down a spiral and watch them go round and round until they hit the water and float away on the lazy river.
There is also a Ferris wheel that can scoop up and drop off balls. The water cup accessory is great for pouring water into a funnel that powers a twin water wheel below.
The accessories kit includes the water cup and 5 balls printed with fun characters. The balls also squirt water for extra fun. The table itself holds 7 gallons of water. Adult assembly is required.
9 Little Tikes Frog Pond Water Table
Another table with launching action, this product is frog-themed. Kids get to launch the five included frogs onto two floating lily pads or onto the center tower. There is a spinner that powers a lazy river as well. The included accessories are 5 colorful frogs and one fill cup.
This is a more basic table than some others on our list, and is only recommended for toddlers and for preschoolers up to 3 years. With a younger child, it may be the perfect thing – engaging but not too overwhelming. However, it may not be the best to entertain siblings of different ages or grow with your child to school age.
It is a very lightweight table (before the water), so it is important that children do not climb into it. No tools are needed for assembly. Use the convenient drain plug to keep the table dry between uses.
10 Step2 Lazy Maze River Run Water Table, Blue and Orange
This Lazy Maze River Run table is positively brimming with activities and accessories that will keep your children engaged even as they grow. Floating balls can go down the slide and float around the lazy river. There are flippers that can launch the balls in different directions and spinners to create currents and splashes.
Two hollow towers are positioned in the middle. Kids can put balls in one tower and fill the other with water, causing the balls to rise up and spill out down the slide. At the bottom, balls will follow the maze until they are flipped into a new position.
Accessories include 6 multi-colored balls and 2 pouring cups. The no-leak drain plug makes drainage easy. Adult assembly is required and may require tools because there are no pre-drilled screw holes.
Successful Use of a Water Table
Once you have your water table, you’ll need to place it effectively in order to get the best from it. Following are other tips to make sure you get years of safe play from your new toy.
- Work with the surface. If the table is placed on concrete, you may want to lay a tarp or blanket underneath so that little feet don’t get burned. In grassy areas, make sure the ground is level with no holes so that the table stays steady and doesn’t tip if kids lean on it or even climb it.
- Supervise children at all times during use. Even though kids don’t technically swim in water tables, drowning is still a risk. It takes less than a foot of water to be dangerous in this regard.
- Replace water frequently. Water that stands for any length of time becomes stagnant. Add in the floating dirt and debris that settles on the surface and water tables can quickly become a breeding ground for disease.
We hope you have been inspired to purchase one of these 10 best water tables for kids and toddlers. With such a huge range of themes and activities, there are tables to delight youngsters through many years. No matter their specific interests, one thing that almost all kids have in common is a love of water play! So don’t hesitate – a water table is an excellent way to spend summer days and can usually be used indoors year-round with dry materials as well.