When my kids were young, they loved to play by getting their hands dirty. Mud, dirt, and all manner of mess was their favorite medium to explore until I purchased their first water table. Then their obsession turned to water! Water tables are an excellent way for young children to explore their world and it aids in their physical and mental development as well.
If your little one is particularly active or just seems bored, consider purchasing a water table for your home! Best of all, water tables are a fun way for kids to cool off in the hot summer sun. In this article we’re going to explore ten of the best water tables available today.
What to Look for in a Water Table
- Consider the surface in which your water table will be placed on. If it’s hot concrete, you may want to place a tarp underneath to protect bare feet from getting burnt. If it’s a grassy area, make sure the ground is flat with no holes to ensure the water table doesn’t wobble or tip over in the event a toddler tries to climb in!
- Have several towels handy to dry off your little one before they go running inside the house to slippery kitchen tile!
- Make sure you have applied sunscreen to your kids! Even on overcast days, a strong sunscreen lotion is still needed to protect sensitive skin from burns. Consider a hat for toddlers with thin or growing hair!
- Remember to supervise your children at all times while they’re using a water table. Children can drown in less than a foot of water.
10 Best Toddler Water Tables
Now that we have explored what to look for in a water table, let’s look at ten of the best ones available today!
Little Tikes Spiralin’ Seas Waterpark Play Table
The Little Tikes Spiralin’ Seas Waterpark Play Table is a classic water table that has been around for years. This #1 bestseller is popular for a reason! The water table is the perfect height for young kids to use every feature, including the “put-and-take”-style toys that offer fine motor skill development.
The legs can be removed so that the base sits on the ground as well for your smallest water toy-loving kids! The price point is also very reasonable for the amount of backyard play time you get.
Parents love that this water table keeps their kids occupied for hours and is simple to assemble. However, the small nooks and crannies do accumulate dirt quickly so it’s best stored in a covered area or garage if possible. This water table has been a favorite activity of my kids for years!
Step2 Ball Buddies Water Table
The Step2 Rain Showers Splash Pond Water Table is a popular choice for many parents due to the included accessories. This toy will definitely keep your little one entertained and happy. Kids love driving the car, truck, boat, and helicopter around as well as throwing the balls into the cups and holes.
The construction of this water table is extremely sturdy and comes with more attachments and accessories than most other water tables on the market.
Little Tikes Anchors Away Pirate Ship Water Table
The Little Tikes Anchors Away Pirate Ship Water Table is a fun option for the high seas loving child in your life! The fun pirate theme carries throughout the table accessories. Details like the anchor lowering with the crank of a handle, a spinning steering wheel, skull and crossbones flag, and a water squirting cannon set this water table apart. The table comes with fun pirate-themed characters and features a constant-flow water fountain in the mast.
The middle piece lays flat for easy storage and coverage when not in use. This water table is durable and will last for years. The table does not come with a cover, but you could purchase a fire pit cover to use.
Little Tikes Island Wavemaker Water Table
The Little Tikes Island Wavemaker Water Table is unique. A wave making wheel is easy for kids to turn and causes exciting water movement. Kids love using the included accessories (a whale, a shark, a pirate, and a mermaid) to swim through the “ocean waves”. The bucket is also fun for simple scooping and dumping. Pour water into the skull island to create a waterfall.
The construction is very sturdy and perfect for toddlers up to four years old!
Little Tikes Fish ‘n’ Splash Water Table
The Little Tikes Fish ‘n’ Splash Water Table is unique in that it includes a fun, interactive fishing game with the traditional water table. The game involves catching, collecting, and counting included fish that are then put in a fishbowl. Once the bowl is full, it tips over with a splash! A launcher also flings the critters onto a spinning lily pad at the center of the table, a great lesson in cause and effect and hand/eye coordination.
This water table keeps toddlers entertained for a good amount of time. Word of caution: Be careful with the launcher as it really does launch well, so be gentle!
Step2 Fiesta Cruise Water Table
The Step2 Fiesta Cruise Water Table is great for encouraging imaginative play. Shaped like a cruise ship, this water table comes with water slides, a boat, a surfboard, and 4 figures. Also included is an overhead umbrella to provide some sun protection.
This table is separated into two segments. The sand portion can be covered with the ship lid. Young children have a blast playing in both sand and water. Some parents choose to replace the sand with river pebbles, which works just as well and with less mess! You can also choose to have water in both sides.
Step2 Lazy Maze River Run Water Table
If you are looking for an exciting toy for your child, the Step2 Lazy Maze River Run Water Table is a great choice. Included are six colored balls. Kids put the balls at the top of the maze and watch them spiral down to the bottom. They can also use the side flippers to flip the balls into the maze. It’s a great cause and effect lesson.
This table is very well made and children from one to four will spend multiple hours playing in the water.
Step2 Waterfall Discovery Wall
If you have a little engineer, then this STEM-inspired Step2 Waterfall Discovery Wall is a must-have item! This twist on a water table is a favorite among kids and parents. With 13 interchangeable funnels, cups, and other pieces, children can create different configurations to result in fun sprinklers and splash zones.
One unique aspect of this option is that older kids enjoyed this water table with their younger siblings thanks to the variety of configurations that it can achieve.
Step2 Cascading Cove and Sand Water Table
The Step2 Cascading Cove and Sand Water Table is another great option for water table play! The sturdy, four-leg construction ensures it will outlast wear and tear. One side of the table is designed to hold sand while the other side holds water. This table is great for sensory development, as you could use other materials in the compartments for hours of indoor or outdoor play! This table also comes with a hard, plastic cover that detaches for an additional play surface and will keep sand and toys safe from outside elements. The umbrella attachment is a great addition to help protect sensitive skin from the harsh summer sun.
This product has great versatility, as it can be used as a sensory table indoors when the weather gets cold. Just add rice, marbles, or any other sensory-developing material and play away! The cover is sturdy even in strong storms, thanks to the elastic straps that secure it to the table.
Adjustable Sand and Water Table
This water table might not be as cute as those above, but it is definitely a practical option. With four separate stations, this is a great choice if you have multiple children. You can have different substances in each station as well as coordinating toys (water with boats, sand with sand toys, beans with scoops, etc.). Each station also includes a lid which means you don’t have to clean up after each use.
Benefits of Water Table Play
According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children, water tables allow children to learn with hands-on materials and promote higher learning through sensory exploration. Sensory experiences can even help children with calming down their bodies. Below are some more reasons why water table play is so beneficial!
- Endless opportunities for learning! Water is a versatile learning tool. From mathematical concepts such as volume to scientific subjects like motion, water tables are a great way to expand the minds of your littlest learners.
- It’s clean(ish) fun! One of the best parts of a water table is the ability to throw your child in a swimsuit, fill up the table, and let them have fun! However, if sand is added to the table, or other sensory-developing objects such as rice, it can get messy so be careful!
- Water tables are versatile. If your little one is too small for the pool, ocean, or lake, a water table is a great way to help them feel included. Just set up the water table, fill it with water, and watch your little one happily (and safely) play! I have taken a water table with us on many boat trips and it has always been a hit. Remember to supervise children while they’re playing in water!
Water tables have been a childhood staple for many years and their popularity and features continue to grow. The benefits of sensory-based learning make these tables a popular choice for all parents wanting to stimulate their child’s development.
My overall pick for the best water table would be the Step2 Cascading Cove and Sand Water Table. This simpler design is great for multiple types of sensory play and the included umbrella and cover make it a convenient choice for outdoor use. Once cold weather hits, the table could easily be used inside and filled with other sensory material such as non-toxic water beads or even rice. Any of the choices above will result in hours of water-based play that will have your kids cooled off in the summer heat and stimulating their minds at the same time!
What is a toddler water table?
A toddler water table is a small plastic pool supported by several legs and often comes with stimulating accessories to facilitate play. Toddlers can watch their toys slide, spin, and splash on a water table, a particularly appealing activity on hot summer days.
Where can a water table be used?
Since water tables are relatively light-weight, they can easily be transported. When the weather is warm enough, water tables can be used in the backyard or even at the lake. When the weather gets cooler, they can be moved indoors and filled with other sensory materials like rice, sand, or water beads.
What makes a water table fun?
Young children find water tables fun because of all the hands-on ways to play with them. Children can splash in the water and watch the water flow over toys. Water tables allow them to explore and discover, cool down, and stay active.