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What Is The Best Water Table?

If you're in a hurry and just want to find out what the best water table is, I'd recommend the Step2 Pond Theme Water Table.

If your little one loves to play in water, a water table can be a great piece to add to your collection. You can let them splash to their little heart’s content without worrying about water damage in your home. The real question isn’t whether or not you’ll love a water table—it’s what’s going to be the best water table for you.

In this article, I am breaking down the best water tables, and in the end, I'll choose the winner.

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What Are Water Tables?

Water tables are a great sensory toy. They can be used inside or outside, though you will want to take care to protect your floors if you’re inside.

Water tables are usually elevated so children stand at them while playing. They have a reservoir you can fill with water. Frequently, there is some sort of activity center in the middle of your water table. These activity centers encourage your child to explore water and gravity.

Water tables are popular toys for preschool-aged children. There are toys geared toward both older and younger groups of children as well. You will also find there are some water toys where sand can be used instead of water, or in addition to water.

Are There Benefits to Using Water Tables?

Using water tables as part of your child’s regular play time comes with a host of benefits. They are regularly used in Montessori-style classrooms and can help your child develop in a number of ways:

  • Provides sensory experiences: Different tactile and sensory experiences help your child to learn. It can help prepare them for new experiences and teach them how to process new feelings and senses.

  • Encourages language development: Not only do water tables help your child develop a better understanding of tactile experiences, but it’s also great for developing language skills. This is a toy that’s more fun to play with in groups, which encourages growth in communication skills.

  • Enhances social skills: Because this activity is great for small groups of children, it also encourages children to learn how to interact with each other. Playing with others helps teach your child how to share and how to be patient.

  • Develops math and science skills: Water tables are a great concrete way to learn math and science. You can help your child learn what happens when you add or take away water. Mass and gravity are also easy to explore at a water table.

  • Encourages creative play: Your child can exercise their creativity with a water table. It’s an open-ended activity that allows them to create their own games and to try new things.

  • Helps your child develop motor skills: Your child can finesse fine motor skills at the water table. Working with small manipulatives will improve grip and hand-eye coordination.

  • Offers hands-on learning opportunities: Sitting for long periods of time can be difficult for young children. Introducing fun concepts at the water table can make learning an anxiety-free and fun activity. 

There are a lot of great reasons purchase a water table. One that’s definitely worth mentioning is that they’re fun and children love them! It’s easy to swap out small toys, as well, which reduces the likelihood of children becoming bored with the activity. 

What to Consider When Shopping for a Water Table

When you’re shopping for your new water table, these are the things you’ll want to keep in mind:

  • If the water table will be used exclusively for water: Not every water table should be used for sand or other materials. If you want a sensory table that has more than water to offer, it's good to know that at the outset.

  • The age of the children who will be using the table: Not only will the height matter, but the features you want will be different, depending on your child’s age.

  • If the table is to be used primarily indoors or outdoors: This may influence how large you want your table to be, as well as how weather-resilient it needs to be.

  • How long you plan on using the water table: This is especially important if you have multiple children. Will you want a water table that’s always suited for toddlers or do you need one for older children? Or maybe one that will grow with your child—these responses will help you narrow down your choices.

  • Ease of setup, cleanup, and maintenance: The wrong water table can be a hassle to set up, move, fill, and empty. Plan on leaving your water table set up season-round? This may be less of a consideration for you than if you need to move it regularly.

  • How sturdy the table needs to be: You don’t want to have an accident with a full water table. Be realistic with who will be using the water table and how stable it needs to be.

There are a lot of water tables out there, so it’s understandable if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the options. Keeping your answers in mind to these questions can help you navigate shopping without extra stress. 

My Top Water Table Picks

Armed with all the above information, we’ll now tell you our favorites, so you can make an informed choice as to which is the best water table for your child.

The Step2 water table comes with a pack of accessories your child can use while playing. This is a two-tiered unit with an upper reservoir as well as a lower reservoir. Your child can scoop water from the bottom into the top and watch it cascade down the waterfall system.

The included accessory pack provides interchangeable waterfall pieces. Your child can mix and match, and experiment to create plenty of water-based fun. The kids are bound to love the squirting water toys that are included as well.

When water is added to the upper reservoir, a rainfall feature will also drizzle water back to the first tier. This feature creates a realistic rain sound and provides another type of water-play for your child to enjoy.

This water table is quite sturdy, with a long and low design that helps prevent tipping. There is some assembly required while setting it up, but it does come with a drain plug. When it’s time to empty the table, there’s no need to struggle while trying to tip it over—simply pull the drain plug from the bottom of the table.

At only 10 pounds when empty, this unit is lightweight enough to move easily. It’s suitable for children ages 18 months through 8 years. It’s also available with a unicorn theme.

PROS
  • This table will suit your growing child’s interests for an extended period of time.
  • The unique design prevents tipping.
  • An accessory pack is included to get your child playing in the water right away.
CONS
  • Initial assembly is best done with two people and requires some time and effort.

The Spill and Splash water table has an upper pool and a lower pool. A dropped lip allows water to cascade from the top container down into the bottom. The upper level can contain up to 2.22 gallons and the lower can hold up to 3.24 gallons. 

This product comes with an umbrella to provide shade during sunny days. There’s also a pack of play accessories, including spitting toys, water spinners, and fun characters.

At nearly 20 pounds and with significant water capacity, this is a water table you’ll probably want to use outside. While it may be difficult to move, its shape and weight will also help prevent tipping and water table accidents.

Unfortunately, this table doesn’t come with a drain plug. When it’s time to empty the contents you will need to either manually empty it or tip it over. You can also choose to fill both pools with water, both with sand, or one of each, for a fun tactile experience.

This unit is suitable for children ages 18 months through 8 years. It is possible, though, that older children may not be as interested in its features. Assembly is required. 

PROS
  • This table is suitable for water as well as sand.
  • The unit is large and unlikely to tip over.
  • An included umbrella helps keep your child protected from the heat and sun.
CONS
  • There are no pilot holes for assembling, which can make assembly time-consuming.
  • There is no drain for this table.

This water table is a great option if you’re looking for a contained play center. The pirate theme is fun and provides plenty of open-ended play opportunities for your child.

An included pump can move the water through the play center. You can also pour water directly into the crow’s nest for an instant water feature. A functioning water cannon will squirt water at unsuspecting pirates.

Tons of features will keep your child occupied for hours. Your kids will even be able to raise and lower a ship’s anchor while they play. The steering wheel also turns for additional realism.

It comes with pirate-themed accessories, including a bucket, scooper, strainer, a boat, and a squirting shark. Of course, two pirate characters are included as well.

Suitable for children ages 24 months through 6 years old, this water table sits low to the ground, so it’s my pick for the best water table for toddlers. Older children who are interested in playing with the toy can do so sitting or kneeling.

A drain plug is incorporated in the Little Tikes water table, which allows for easy emptying when it’s time to put your table away.

PROS
  • Plenty of play options that can provide hours of entertainment
  • This is a water table that can grow with your child
  • The unique triangular shape of the pirate ship helps prevent tipping
CONS
  • The included drain plug is prone to leaking

If you know you’re interested in bringing home a water table that can also function as a sand table, this play center can be a great option. There are two separate sides to this table. One is specifically designed for water, while the other is made to hold sand.

Also included is a sturdy cover to help keep debris out of your play center and keep your sand dry. Bungee clasps on either end of the lid help ensure your lid won’t be easily knocked off or removed when it shouldn’t be. It’s also designed for play while the lid is on, which means the fun doesn’t need to stop just because of a little rain.

Also included with this play center is an umbrella. It keeps your kids dry while they play on the molded lid—and keeps them protected from the sun when the weather’s good.

An assortment of accessories is included with this product as well. These include two bridges, two boats, two pots, and one shovel.

Minimal assembly is required with this play center. The water section contains a drain for easy emptying. The sand area can accommodate up to 20 pounds of sand. This model is suitable for children ages 24 months through 8 years old.

PROS
  • Versatile play center that allows for multiple mediums of sensory play and development
  • Minimal assembly is straightforward and easy to complete
  • A great table to accommodate the needs of multiple and growing children
CONS
  • Some moms have issues with water leaking through the table’s legs

This waterfall play center lets your child experiment with water. They can create their own unique waterfalls by swapping out and rearranging the included waterfall pieces. A hole at the top of the unit allows the water to cascade down through the arrangement.

Simply pour the water in through the top and watch it fall to the reservoir at the base. Zigzags, funnels, and spinners provide dozens of different arrangements for your child to experiment with.

There isn’t an option to hook directly up to a water source, so creating the waterfalls is a manual effort. Fortunately, the reservoir at the base works to catch most of the water. It’s likely to miss some, so make sure you’re using this model in a waterproof space.

This unit is two-sided, so there’s more room to play. The 13-piece accessory kit encourages scientific exploration and allows for plenty of fun. Replacement parts are available should anything happen to the originals.

This model is suited for children 18 months through 6 years of age. The extra-wide base helps prevent tipping. The unit stands 33 inches tall and weighs in at less than 12 pounds. This isn’t an overly large unit, so it’s great, even for smaller spaces. 

PROS
  • A great space-saving unit that provides plenty of learning and fun opportunities
  • Double-sided so children can play together with less squabbling
CONS
  • Some consumers reported the opening at the top didn’t allow enough water to move through to activate the waterfall action

Finding the Best Water Table for Your Child

Water tables are a great way to introduce fun, new sensory activities to your child. They can help encourage growth and development, whether you’re looking for the best water table for toddlers or one for an older child. For older children, they can provide academic opportunities and a great backdrop for science experiments.

All of these water table options are solid choices, depending on exactly what you’re looking for. If I could choose only one, though, it would be the Step2 Pond Theme Water Table.

I love how the upper tier of this water table interacts with the bottom tier. I also like that there are different ways for kids to experience the water transfer from top to bottom. The potential longevity of the item and the easy-to-use drain plug round out its appeal.

About the Author Ryan Howard

Ryan is a co-founder of SmartParentAdvice. When he isn't spending time with his wife, Cristin, or his two children, he can often be found running around on the tennis court.

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