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Splash, pour, and enjoy fun in the sun with these water tables for kids
Fact checked by Latifah Miles
Water tables keep kids cool and busy outside by allowing them to splash, pour, and experiment without actually having to be in the water. The best water tables are durable, full of features, like an umbrella for protection from the sun, and accommodate one or multiple children, depending on your needs.
In addition to being a great alternative to a pool, they're also educational. According to Kristin Morency Goldman, senior communications specialist at The Toy Association, water tables are like early science wrapped in summer fun. While keeping kids cool, they help introduce early physics concepts through splashing and flowing water. For example, parents and caregivers can ask children to predict if an object will sink or float, Goldman explains.
To find the best water tables, we considered the advice of experts and studied the design and features of more than 20 water tables on the market. Moreover, we also reviewed guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics on water safety. When reviewing products, we considered size, age recommendations, assembly, water safety, features, design, capacity, and overall value.
While water tables offer a fun alternative for toddlers who love splashing around, your child should never be left unattended when playing with water of any amount due to the risk of drowning.
Best Overall: Step2 Summer Showers Splash Tower Water Table
Kids will love the 8-piece accessory kit that includes pouring cups, animal-shaped water squirters, a large bucket, and more.
Large size (con for some)
Offers STEM play
Comes with 8-piece accessory kit for various types of play
Assembly can be difficult
Shade umbrella sold separately
With plenty of room for collaborative and parallel play, this double-decker water table inspires endless ways to play, which is why it's our favorite. It's made of durable plastic, can hold up to 4 gallons of water, and has a non-leaking drain plug to prevent messes and make cleanup a breeze. If you plan to use it outdoors, it canaccommodate an umbrella (purchased separately or in a bundle with the table) to keep kids protected from the sun. Reviewers note that it's easy to assemble and is light enough to move around but won't tip over while it's in use.
Designed for ages 18 months and up, this table comes with an 8-piece accessory kit that includes pouring cups, animal-shaped water squirters, a large bucket, and more which help kids fine-tune their gross motor and fine motor skills. It also comes with maze pieces that allow kids to create their own unique water maze and waterfalls while learning about cause and effect.
As far as we’re concerned, this is one of the most fun water tables on the market.
Price at time of publication: $80
Dimensions: 39 inches x 24 inches x 32 inches | Age: 18 months+ | Type: Water | Capacity: 5 gallons
Best Runner-Up: Little Tikes Spiralin’ Seas Waterpark Play Table
With a six-piece accessory kit, a funnel, and a spinning toy, there are plenty of ways to play and keep kiddos occupied.
Comes with five character balls that squirt water
Built-in games help with motor skill development
The drain plug can be difficult to install
The Little Tikes Spiralin’ Seas Waterpark Play Table has a compact design, but the size is deceiving because it can hold up to 7 gallons of water. With a six-piece accessory kit, a funnel, and a spinning toy, there are plenty of ways to play and keep kiddos occupied. The built-in Ferris wheel allows toddlers to flex their “put in and take out” motor skills as they plop the little balls in to go for a spin. Whether kids are pouring water or tossing a ball into the top to watch it swirl down back into the large basin, we think this will be an instant backyard hit.
Price at time of publication: $55
Dimensions: 29 inches x 29 inches x 31.5 inches | Age: 2 years+ | Type: Water | Capacity: 7 gallons
Best Budget: Little Tikes Frog Pond Water Table
The design isn’t elaborate, but we love how it creates the opportunity for open-ended play, plus, it comes with eight accessories.
Includes eight accessories
Spinner creates lazy river effect
Drain is difficult to plug, causing it to leak occasionally
While this water table doesn’t come with all of the bells and whistles that some of our other picks do, there is still plenty of fun to be had. It has two launchers that kids can use to toss play frogs onto the leaf in the center of the table, as well as a little spinner that can create a lazy river effect. The design isn’t elaborate, but we love how it creates the opportunity for open-ended play. Plus, it comes with eight accessories, so there’s no telling what kids will dream up.
Price at time of publication: $40
Dimensions: 29.5 inches x 29.5 inches x 22.3 inches | Age: 2 years+ | Type: 2 years+ | Capacity: 7 gallons
Best Freestanding: Step2 Pump & Splash Discovery Pond Water Table
Child-activated water pump
10-piece accessory set
No drain hole (must tip over to empty)
This Step2 water table features a unique design that stands out on our list—it has no legs. Instead, a “water pond” holds up to 11 gallons and doubles as the base and a mini wading spot to keep kids cool. When children activate the water pump, three separate areas run water through different features of the water table, like a funnel, spinner, and lazy river, with all water running into the pond below. Bonus: This outdoor water toy includes 10 accessories, such as a lily pad and bucket, to enhance fun in the sun.
Price at time of publication: $160
Dimensions: 40 x 30 x 38 inches | Age: 3 years+ | Type: Water | Capacity: 11 gallons
Best Sand and Water Combo: Step2 Splash N Scoop Bay Sand and Water Table
This table design gives kids easy access to both sand and water so they’ll be able to whip up some amazing castles.
Dual activity table
Designed to hold an umbrella for shade
Topper only covers one side at a time
In order to build a sandcastle, you need a mix of water and sand, right? This table design gives kids easy access to both—meaning they’ll be able to whip up some amazing castles. The double-sided design comes with a top that can cover one side at a time or come off completely. While it is a simpler option, it comes with four accessories, including a detachable water tower. On extra sunny days, this table can accommodate an umbrella (sold separately). Our favorite accessory is the adorable shark-shaped scoop that comes with the table.
Price at time of publication: $75
Dimensions: 28.2 inches x 31 inches x 29.5 inches | Age: 2 years+ | Type: Water and sand | Capacity: 1.5 gallons of water on one side / up to 15 pounds of sand on the other
Related:The 8 Best Playhouses for Toddlers of 2022
Best Space-Saving: Toy Time Sensory Table With Lid and Toys
While the table’s design is great, we appreciate that all of the included toys are designed to support motor skill development
Accessories designed for motor skill development
Most kids will have to sit and play due to table height
No drain for water
If you’re short on space, or you just aren’t a fan of having a big plastic structure sitting out in your yard all summer long, then this compact water and sand table is perfect. It measures 17 inches by 12.5 inches by 11 inches when it’s fully assembled, and since the legs are detachable, it’s easy to move around from room to room.
While the table’s design is great, we truly appreciate that all of the included toys were thoughtfully chosen to support motor skill development. The accessories include a watering can, a small bucket, a scooper, a shovel, three animal-shaped sand stampers, and two little boats. When your child isn’t playing with this table, you can simply toss all of the accessories inside, put the lid on the table, and tuck it away until next time.
Price at time of publication: $22
Dimensions: 17 inches x 12.5 inches x 11 inches | Age: 3 years+ | Type: Sand and water, sensory play | Capacity: Not Listed
Best for Toddlers: Simplay3 Rushing River Falls Water Play Table
The multi-level setup creates a cascading water effect, making it great for parallel and collaborative play.
Toddlers can sit or stand to play
Folds into itself for storage
Needs a flowing hose for continuous waterfall effect
We were instantly taken by the three-tier design of this water table. Toddlers can safely play no matter their height, thanks to the multi-level play area. Not to mention, the varying heights give kids the option to either stand or sit while they play, which is a nice bonus. The multi-level setup creates a cascading water effect and makes it great for parallel and collaborative play.
The top tier of the table can be extended to create an extra foot of length and, when it’s not in use, the table’s three tiers fold into each other, collapsing the 6-foot-long toy into just 3 feet, making storage much easier. The table also comes with a great assortment of accessories, including two buckets, four boats, two pouring cups, and one hose attachment in case you want to hook the hose up to the table for a steady stream of water.
Price at time of publication: $70
Dimensions: 72 inches x 17.9 inches x 27.6 inches | Age: 18 months+ | Type: Water | Capacity: 5 gallons
Related:The Best Baby Activity Tables for Endless Play and Learning
Best for Sharing: Step2 Splish Splash Seas Water Table
Measuring at more than 3 feet wide, this water table is perfect for groups of kids who want to play together.
Most of the accessories attach to the table, so they won’t get lost
Cute and interactive design
Plastic not pre-drilled for some pieces
Measuring at more than 3 feet wide, this water table is perfect for groups of kids who want to play together. In addition to being large, it’s also packed with fun features, including a water wheel carousel, a pouring bucket that creates a waterfall effect, and a palm tree that’s perfect for making a little rain shower. The table features a plug for easy draining and also comes with plenty of fun accessories like pouring cups, a water spinner, a boat, two little people, and more.
Price at time of publication: $100
Dimensions: 27 inches x 42.45 inches x 30 inches | Age: 18 months+ | Type: Water | Capacity: 7 gallons
Best for Sensory Play: Little Tikes FOAMO 3-in-1 Water Table
More than just a water table, this pick also features a bubble machine and a foam machine with a motor for added fun.
Lots of opportunity for interaction and sensory play
Manual pump teaches cause and effect
3-in-1 features can be played with separately or all together
Soap can make some surfaces extra slippery when spilled
Batteries drain quickly (table needs to be shut off manually)
More than just a water table, this pick from Little Tikes also features a bubble machine and a foam machine with a motor, so kids can dive into all kinds of fun sensory play. Parents simply need to add liquid soap or bubble solution where indicated and then turn on the machines. The foam will start to build up in the center bubble tower of the table and then seep out through holes all around it, and the bubbles will come from the top where the spinning machine is.
In addition to all of the soapy fun, the table also comes equipped with a fun spinning Ferris wheel, a foam clapper, and a hand pump to create even more bubbles. This table requires batteries (which are not included) and works with any kind of soap or bubble solution.
Price at time of publication: $65
Dimensions: 25.60 inches x 25.60 inches x 29 inches | Age: 2 years+ | Type: Water with bubble machine and foam machine | Capacity: Not listed
Related:The Best Kiddie Pools to Splash, Cool Down, and Relax In
Best for Preschoolers: Little Tikes Flowin’ Fun Water Table
We particularly love how all of the interchangeable pipes are a fun STEM activity for preschoolers.
Includes more than 15 accessories
Great for STEM play
Works best when it’s hooked up to a running hose
There’s a lot that we like about this water table, but we particularly love how all of the interchangeable pipes are a fun STEM activity for preschoolers. It comes with 13 pipes they can mix and match with different fittings as well as faucets, a scoop, a bucket, and a boat. When it’s hooked up to a running hose, a waterfall flows from the center tower and then passes through the maze of pipes.
If you don’t want to have the hose running, that’s OK, because simply pouring a bucket of water over the tower will create a similar effect. This water table is great for kids to play solo as well as with friends.
Price at time of publication: $58
Dimensions: 7.31 inches x 28.25 inches x 28.75 inches | Age: 2 to 5 years | Type: Water | Capacity: Not listed
Best for Motor Skills: Step2 Busy Ball Play Table
Kids love playing in the water, and they love any game that involves balls, and this water table puts those two things together.
Includes 10 balls
Offers multiple ways to play
Top tier might be difficult for younger kids to reach
Kids love playing in the water, and they love any game that involves balls, and this water table puts those two things together. It comes with 10 balls, and the table has a center tower with three different tracks coming off it that balls can roll through. Kids simply take a ball, pop it into the top of the tower, and watch as it rolls down the track and into the water.
There are also two built-in ball launchers on the table that kids can use to try to toss the balls into the tower, if they so choose. It comes with a scoop they can use to reach and pull up balls from the water after they’ve come tumbling down. This table is great for motor skill development because it involves grabbing, tossing, launching, and all kinds of other movements, both big and small.
Price at time of publication: $92
Dimensions: 31.5 inches x 31.5 inches x 27.87 inches | Age: 18 months+ | Type: Water | Capacity: Not listed
Best Splurge: Crate & Kids Sand and Water Table
With the ability to hold 50 pounds of play sand, each side of the table has two plugs for quick and easy draining.
Two drain holes on each side
When covered, it can be used as an actual table
Needs to be kept out of the rain and drained and dried after each use to avoid rusting
Table’s color may fade in sun
If you aren’t a fan of brightly colored water tables and you don’t mind splurging a little, this water and sand table from Crate & Kids is a stylish option. It can hold up to 50 pounds of play sand, and each side of the table has two plugs for quick and easy draining. What really sets this table apart stylistically, though, is the gorgeous cover that turns the toy into a wood table, so it will fit right in with your decor when it’s not in use.
All of that being said, parents should keep in mind that in order to protect their investment, this table should be drained of water and brought indoors when it’s not in use to avoid rusting, fading, and other weather damage.
Price at time of publication: $399
Dimensions: 42 inches x 24 inches x 22 inches | Age: Not listed | Type: Multi-use | Capacity: 50 pounds of sand
Best Multi-Use: Best Choice Products Kids 3-in-1 Outdoor Convertible Wood Activity Sand & Water Picnic Table With Umbrella and Play Boxes
We really like the functionality of this pick because it can be set up as a water and/or sand table, or as a picnic table.
Umbrella shade included
Can safely seat four young kids
Rainwater will go through table boards into the water/sand bins
Of all of the water tables, we really like the functionality of this pick. It can be set up as a water and/or sand table, or as a picnic table. It comes with a large umbrella to help keep kids cool and protected from the sun. It’s made from real wood and is large enough to comfortably (and safely) sit up to four young kids.
When you want to transition it from a picnic table to a play table, remove the cover (the two center panels of the picnic table) and fill the bins with whatever sensory material you’d like. When the bins aren’t being used, simply dump them out and put the cover back on until the kids are ready to play again.
Price at time of publication: $115
Dimensions: 38 inches x 37.75 inches x 19.5 inches | Age: 3 years+ | Type: Multi-use | Capacity: 220 pounds (total weight)
How We Selected the Best Water Tables
We chose the best water tables by studying the design and features of more than 25 water tables on the market and researching reviews from customers and competitors. We also monitored shopping trends to bring you the best and most up-to-date offerings on kids’ water tables. We considered toy safety, water safety, age recommendations, size, assembly, type, capacity, design, features, and overall value when reviewing products.
We also spoke with Kristin Morency Goldman, senior communications specialist at The Toy Association, to find out more about the benefits of water tables. Moreover, we reviewed guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics on water safety and how to prevent drowning.
What to Look For in a Water Table
Materials and Durability
If you’re planning to leave the water table outside when it’s not in use, you will want one that's made from high-quality material that can withstand changes in temperature, exposure to direct sunlight, and the occasional thunderstorm or windy day. Also, look for a water table that is put together well so you don’t have to worry about it breaking or parts coming off.
Look for a water table that has fun play features that help kids explore. This may include pouring cups, parts that float, or a waterfall of some sort. Ideally, most of the features will be attached to the table so they won’t get lost or blown away easily.
Design and Size
Consider the size of your outdoor space when choosing a table so that you get one that doesn’t take up too much room. Also, take into account how many kids will likely be playing with the table at once. Your child’s age should also be a factor when choosing the right size because you want to ensure it’s not too tall or too deep for them.
Frequently Asked Questions
How often should I empty a water table?
Water tables should be emptied and cleaned periodically to keep the water and toys clean. Once a week should be sufficient but use your own judgment on whether to replace the water sooner. If the water doesn't look clean, it's time to empty it. Hot, humid weather makes germs more likely to grow. Additionally, if your table can be covered, then bugs and dirt are less likely to accumulate.
What toys should I put in a water table for kids?
A variety of toys can be used with a water table. Firstly, they need to be appropriate to use in the water (look for nonporous materials like plastic) and for the age of your child. Be sure the toys are big enough that they won't pose a choking hazard. Bath toys make good options, as well as anything that floats or can scoop water, like cups or ladles.
How do I clean a water table?
Clean a water table by emptying it of toys and water. Wipe it out with warm water and a mild detergent. Clean each of the toys as well. Then, let it dry completely before filling it again.
How do I keep mosquitos out of a water table?
Cleaning out the table regularly and keeping it covered will help to keep mosquitos at bay. If you live in an area prone to mosquitos, choose a table with a cover. Otherwise, you will need to empty the water table more frequently or only fill it when it's being used.
Why Trust Verywell Family
Ashley Ziegler, a full-time parenting writer and mom to a 2-year-old and a 5-year-old. She is well versed in toys for young kids, and has had the Little Tikes Spiralin’ Seas Waterpark Play Table (view at Amazon) set up in her backyard for the last four years. When selecting the products for this list, she considered size, functionality, use, user reviews, and her own personal experiences.