Water play tables not only provide a great focus for outdoor play, they're also a brilliantly fun way of helping younger children develop key skills. Working pumps, spinning wheels, turning on taps and starting cascades can all help improve fine motor skills, cement the notion of cause and effect and introduce the concept of floating and sinking – plus, all that splishing and sploshing makes for some excellent sensory play.


Water table play also offers huge scope for creativity and imagination as your child introduces characters and accessories to the game. And, as the tables are usually big enough for more than one splashy player, they can provide a lovely opportunity to boost social interaction.

Water tables also require less water (and warmth) than a paddling pool, are easy to empty and tidy away and, because the play requires focus around the table, are much less likely to morph into the all-out over-excited charging around that sometimes comes with water pistols.

We've taken a good look at the water tables currently on the market, assessed their price and features, and asked other parents what they thought. For more outdoor-play fun, take a look at best sand tables and best mud kitchens.

Best water play tables at a glance

  • Best water table for toddlers: Early Learning Centre Sand and Water Table, £59.99
  • Best water table for squirty fun: Little Tikes Anchors Away Pirate Ship, £79.99
  • Best water table for preschoolers: Step 2 Archway Rain Showers Splash Pond, £99.99
  • Best water table for different-age kids playing together: Little Tikes Magic Flower Water Table, £107.92
  • Best water table with sun shade: Step 2 Cascading Cove Sand and Water Table, £125
  • Best water table for multiple ways to play: Plum Discovery Forest Water Run, £279.99
  • Best water table for gentle wave action: Little Tikes Island Wavemaker, £79.99
  • Best water table for portability: TP Toys Jungle Fun Trolley, £35.99
  • Best water table for sustainability: TP Splash & Play Wooden Picnic Table, £64.99
  • Best space-saving water table: Playhouse WaterWall, £62.99

Jump to:

More like this

What to look for when buying a water table

Age suitability – For very young toddlers, you might want to consider products that can be placed directly on the floor or on an existing bench or tabletop so they can reach it easily. For older toddlers and beyond, compare the height of the water table with the height of your child and consider height-adjustable products too. If you have children of multiple ages, think about the different features and accessories. A toddler might be happy floating a boat but school-age children will enjoy the extra stimulus of pumps, locks and waterfalls, so try to choose a product that offers both. And remember, never leave a child of any age unattended around water.

Care, drain plugs and lids – Caring for your water table is important, especially if it spends most of its life outside. Follow the care instructions carefully, try to empty and dry the table regularly and don't leave stagnant water in it for long periods of time. Some tables come with drain plugs, which make emptying them much easier (otherwise you'll have to tip it up). You'll probably also want to use a lid or cover when your table's not in use: not all tables come with custom lids but you can find a creative coverage solution of your own (we use a BBQ cover to protect our water table from the elements).

Multi-use – Many water tables can also be used as sand tables and some have separate sections so you can have sand and water play at the same time. There are also water tables where you can move the fixtures around to create different water effects and others that have moulded car tracks around the edges or even on the lid. And some lids are flat and smooth enough to turn the table into a craft table or snack table. Going for a multi-use play table can help extend the life of the product as your child is less likely to get bored/grow out of it so quickly.

Accessories – You can just accessorise your water table with bath toys and plastic figures and utensils you already have around the house, but made-for-water-table-play accessories, whether that's boats, buckets or toy pirates, can really enhance play – especially if your water table has a particular theme. When comparing prices for products, take a look at exactly what is included in the package being offered. Some retail sites use publicity pictures that feature exciting-looking extras without always making it clear that these are not included in the price.

Material – The majority of water tables on the market are made of plastic for the very good reason that plastic is generally weatherproof, easy to clean and quick to dry. Wood is, of course, a more eco-friendly – and often more aesthetically pleasing – alternative to plastic but always check if it needs treating or sealing to protect it against the elements. Wood can rot if not correctly cared for.

Assembly – Most water play tables will require some self-assembly, sometimes with a screwdriver or other tools. If you're buying yours as a gift for a special occasion, such as a birthday, you might want to assemble it ahead of the big day to avoid having to stress-build the whole thing under the impatient eye of an excited child. Wooden products may need more assembly than their plastic counterparts.

Here’s our pick of the best water play tables for kids

1. Early Learning Centre Sand And Water Table, £59.99

– Best for toddlers

Available from: Early Learning Centre, The Entertainer and Amazon

13 month girl tester playing with Early Learning Centre Sand and Water Table

Age: 18 months+ | Size: 42cm x 68cm x 68cm | Material: Plastic | Cover: Yes | Accessories: 10 toys, including rake, spade, boat, scoop and slot-in funnels and wheels


  • Excellent accessories
  • Spinning features
  • Cover
  • Drainage plug


  • Plug only on 1 side
  • Height probably only suitable for toddlers

This sturdy, divided table gives you the option to have sand and water play together, although it's not best suited for water play in both sections as only 1 side has a proper drainage plug; the other just has a 'blocker' to stop the sand coming out of the hole. You get a lot of great accessories with this table, including great spinning wheels and funnels.

It's a perfect height for my daughter (she is on the tall side) and she stands and plays independently with it. I like all the toys, especially the ones that slot in and it's nice that the cover doubles as a race track.
Liz, mum of our child tester Sophie, 13 months

2. Little Tikes Anchors Away Pirate Ship, £79.99

– Best for squirty fun

Available from: Very and Little Tikes

Nami 4 and a half years old playing with Little Tikes Anchors Away Water Table

Age: 2+ | Size: 80cm x 101cm x 71cm | Material: Plastic | Cover: No | Accessories: Toys including bucket, scoops, strainer, boat, life ring, 2 pirates and shark

  • Pros:
  • Great features
  • Different levels
  • Drainage plug


  • No cover

This long-time bestselling water table is sturdy, well thought through and perfect for imaginary pirate play. With its cannon, crow's nest, ship's wheel and anchor (that you can lower and raise), it's full of fun. The crow's nest spins when you pour water on it and there's a spinning wheel and a pump to keep the water moving, but the real star features are the shark that squirts and the cannon which shoots water – both excellent fun.

My son loved pushing toys down the slide, pretending to play pirates. The only downside was that it needed a jet wash quite often.
Kimberly, mum of our child tester Connor, 2

3. Step 2 Archway Rain Showers Splash Pond, £99.99

– Best for preschoolers

Available from: Amazon and Step 2

Marcsen 18 months playing with Step2 Archway Rainshowers.jpg-1

Age: 18 months+ | Size: 79cm x 61cm x 99cm | Material: Plastic | Cover: No | Accessories: 13 toys, including bucket, scoop, 2 boats, spinners, chutes and various sea creatures


  • Different levels
  • Moveable fixtures
  • Accessories
  • Drain plug


  • No cover
  • Too big for some areas
  • Probably too high for a small toddler

This generously wide water table has an upper level that allows you to pour water from a bucket (a small toddler would struggle to do this on their own) and watch it rain rather beautifully down through the holes into the 'pond' below. It has a fixed spinner on the top and comes with a good selection of other chutes, spinners and hook-on mini buckets that your child can fix – and rearrange – in different places to make different splashy effects. It has a drain plug but not a lid, and there is a moulded hole on the edge (meant for keeping the purple scoop net handy) that you could use to hold a sun umbrella.

It's robust, sturdy and is suitable for a range of ages from older toddler up – I have a 3 year old who loves it too. It also has great accessories that come with it.
Leah, mum of our child tester Macsen, 18 months

4. Little Tikes Magic Flower Water Table, £8107.92

– Best for different-age kids playing together

Available from: Amazon

Katie's 1 and 5 year old playing with Little Tikes Magic Flower water table

Age: 2+ | Size: 66cm x 76cm x 20cm | Material: Plastic | Cover: No | Accessories: 9 toys, including watering can, frogs turtles, ducks, fish


  • Different levels
  • Hidden features
  • Accessories


  • No cover
  • No drainage plug

This good-sized, 4-level water table is perfect for children of different ages to play with together: the younger child can splash around the bottom levels whilst the older can play nearer the top. The extra wow factor with this table is the 'magic flower' right at the very top, which opens (in pretty multicolour) when you spray it with water from the watering can.

I love the different levels of play: both my children get great use out of it. The accessories you get with it are good quality and really extend play.
Katie, mum of our child testers Paige, 4, and Felicity, 2

5. Step 2 Cascading Cove Sand and Water Table, £125

– Best for staying out of the sun

Available from: Amazon and Wayfair

Step 2 Cascading Cove Sand Water Table

Age: 18 months+ | Size: 58cm x 61cm x 108cm | Material: Plastic | Cover: Yes | Accessories: Canopy, spade, bucket, 2 boats, 2 mini-bridges


  • Tight-fitting lid
  • Drainage holes
  • Comes with a canopy and toys
  • Accessories included


  • Pricey
  • Too large for some spaces

This is one of the most expensive tables in our selection but it's also the largest and it comes with a removable sun canopy, a great lid and some nicely thought-through accessories. The sturdy, chunky table is split down the middle, so your child can either fill both sides with water or put water in 1 side and sand in the other, and each section has its own drainage plug (which means you don't need to tip the whole things over to get the water out).

6. Plum Discovery Forest Water Run, £279.99

– Best water table for multiple ways to play

Available from: Amazon and Very

Plum® Discovery Forest Water Run tester image

Age: 3+ | Size: 90cm x 60-130cm x 160-335cm | Material: Wood | Cover: No | Accessories: 2-in-1 step and storage box, paint pots | Awards: Silver, MadeForMums Toy Awards


  • Different levels
  • Adjustable
  • Great features


  • Pricey
  • No cover
  • Too large for some spaces
  • Lengthy assembly

This clever, adjustable water table has 3 levels and 5 individual wooden reservoirs that can adapt to suit different gardens, depending on how much space you have. It has natural bamboo racing chutes and 3-way water racing gates that can be opened and closed to different heights, regulating the flow and direction of the water so children can race against each other. We love the specially designed 2-in-1 step and storage box and the wipeable painting screen with included paint pots is a really nice touch.

It's fantastic, there's unlimited ways to play with it — every time the kids go to it they find a new game to play. We've found racing water beads down the runs really fun!
Emily, mum to our child tester Arthur, 4

7. Little Tikes Island Wavemaker, £79.99

– Best for gentle wave action

Available from: Very, Little Tikes and Amazon

Iman's 4 year old daughter playing with the Little Tikes Wavemaker.jpg-1

Age: 2+ | Size: 94cm x 56cm x 20cm | Material: Plastic | Cover: No | Accessories: 6 toys, including bucket, pirate on a boat, treasure chest, shark, narwhal and mermaid


  • Wavemaker feature
  • Different levels
  • Hidden features
  • Pirate-themed accessories
  • Drain plug


  • No cover

This action-packed water table has a working steering wheel on the side that makes little waves in the water, a palm tree that spins when you pour water on it and and 2 slides (1 on the raised island) for toys to shoot along. The pirate-themed accessories included are great and really tee up a good session of bucaneering play. We particularly like the treasure chest, which fits into each of 2 'secret' hiding places. It has a drain plug but no lid.

I like that there are lots of elements to it. The wavemaker is easy to turn and there are lots of characters that come with it, including a pirate, narwhal and mermaid, all of which can travel down the slides on the table.
Iman, mum of our child tester Nami, 4

8. TP Jungle Fun Trolley, £35.99

– Best for portability

Available from: TP Toys

TP Toys Jungle Fun Trolley

Age: 2+ | Size: 65cm (double when unfolded) x W51cm x 21cm | Material: Plastic | Cover: Yes | Accessories: Features including boat, dam, rocker, gate, raft, trees, water pump, wave maker and bridge (but not the animals shown in the picture)


  • Good value
  • Excellent features
  • Easily folded


  • Not raised, so can only be played with while sitting
  • No drain plug

The portable water table is a clever idea: it simple folds up into a wheeled trolley with a carry handle for your child to pull along to wherever you're going – or stow in the car boot for longer journeys. Obviously, because it's designed to be folded up quickly, it hasn't got legs, so this is a water table your child can't play with standing up.

The jungle-themed features included are really top-notch: we particularly like the dam gates and the spinning wave maker you can crank with a handle, and the little animal rocker is very cute. It doesn't have a drain plug and it hasn't got a lid because it doesn't need one. Some light assembly (fitting on the features).

9. TP Splash & Play Wooden Picnic Table, £64.99

– Best for sustainability

Available from: TP Toys and Amazon

TP Splash & Play Wooden Picnic Table

Age: 2+ | Size: 71cm x 89cm x 94cm | Material: Wood | Cover: Yes | Accessories: None


  • Working sink feature
  • Removable lid that allows it to double as a child's picnic bench


  • Large
  • Difficult to store
  • Lengthy assembly
  • Pricey

This wooden picnic-style table, made from FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified timber, has a splash tub on one half and a sink on the other half that features a rotating spout and running water, operated by a pump button.

We really like the sink's wiggly maze of a draining board and are impressed by its in-built water-recycling reservoir – when you remove the plug, the reservoir underneath fills with the water, ready to be pumped out of the tap again. Quite a lot of assembly required, using a screwdriver and sometimes making pilot holes.

10. PlayHouse Waterwall, £99.99

– Best space-saving water table

Available from: Amazon, Very and Smyths

Playhouse Waterwall tester image

Age: 3+ | Size: 104cm x 59cm x 86cm | Material: Wood | Cover: No | Accessories:8 x Guttering, 8 x Guttering End Caps, 4 x Guttering Connectors, 2 x Corkscrew Frame, Collapsible Bucket, Seesaw, Waterwheel, Watermill and Waterfall | Awards: Silver, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2022


  • Great accessories
  • Lots of different combinations
  • Small footprint


No cover


A very inventive alternative to a water table is this water wall from Playhouse. It's made from high-quality, sustainably-sourced wood and it's specifically designed to be kept outdoors all year round. Thanks to its clever design, there's so much scope for creativity for children as the interchangeable modular pieces can be moved around easily to create different combinations.

I like it when the water makes the bits that turn spin around. I also like the slides and changing them around so the water falls into the bucket.
Our child tester Heidi, 6

How did we choose our 10 of the Best?

When choosing and testing these water tables we considered age suitability, size, price, assembly, whether or not it has a cover and drainage plug, special features, included accessories and, of course, play value.

Our 10 of the Best lists are compiled by qualified and experienced parenting journalists. They rely on a number of sources, including our testing undertaken during the MadeForMums Awards and feedback from our home testing panel and Top Testers Club.

Each year, 1000s of products are put through their paces by hundreds of parents across the country on behalf of MadeForMums, to ensure we’re bringing you honest and true reviews and recommendations.

Our list is not an ordered ranking from 1-10 but instead a carefully selected group of tried-and-tested products, each of which we believe is best for a different situation or requirement. We don’t just tell you what is best, we aim to help you discover what is best for your family.

About the author

Chloe is a Digital Reviews Writer and Coordinator for the MadeForMums team. She researches and writes articles, recommending the best products for parents, ranging from best sleep aids to best playpens. She has a first-class Honours Psychology degree, and a strong interest in and knowledge of child development.

Pics: Product websites/MadeForMums toy testers


Read more…


Picture of Chloe Brightwell
Chloe BrightwellDigital Reviews Writer and Coordinator

Chloe is a Digital Reviews Writer and Coordinator for Immediate Media's Parenting team, specialising in household and trying to help parents save money. She researches and writes articles, recommending the best products, ranging from best cordless vacuums to best playpens. She has a First-Class Honours Psychology degree where she developed a strong interest in child development. During her teenage years she worked as a play worker and Brownie volunteer to support children's play.