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Buying a Kids Sand and Water Table - Sorting Through the (Too) Many Options!

Updated on September 10, 2011
This table is actually not on my list of recommendations because it's over $100!
This table is actually not on my list of recommendations because it's over $100! | Source

Is it Really This Hard to Find a Good and Inexpensive Sand and Water Table?

I find myself again in one of those scenarios where I wish there were two or three options for what to buy. Instead, I feel like there are hundreds. And then I feel like I should just buy the first one I see, but I start reading the reviews, and each one seems to have horrible flaws. So then I think I have to meticulously read through the reviews for every one, weigh the pros and cons, and come up with the perfect decision. I started to realize the mess I was getting myself into when I stumbled across a review on titled "My Love Hate Relationship With The Little Tikes Easy Store Sand and Water Table" which the author says took her two years to write. Clearly, I am getting in way over my head here.

But the more time I spend, the more is on the line - I can't let all my time go to waste! Hence, this hub. Perhaps others can benefit from the horrors I have experienced while shopping online for a sand and water table for my son.

How I Figured Out Which Tables are the Best Options

In evaluating what is "the best" I considered the following:

  • Features - I want something that does more than just hold water and sand, because that makes me feel like I should have just pulled the coffee table outside and put two bins on top of it. I want some fun here, people! I mean, I want fun stuff for my son to play with! Right! Water wheels, slides, a little something extra - that's what I'm looking for.
  • Price - I'm just looking under $100. There are ones that are more expensive, but as long as I'm primarily buying things just for my son to play with (as in, I don't run a day care or anything), I can't justify going into three figures for a sand and water table. Well, I probably could if I tried hard enough, but I can't let myself go there.
  • Only minor drawbacks - obviously every item will have drawbacks if you look hard enough, but I eliminated options that seemed to have major flaws (such as you can't drain it) that would cancel out even the best other features.

The Best Sand and Water Tables (Below $100)

In an effort to simplify and help others sift through far fewer options than I had to, I am forcing myself to come up with what I consider to be the three best tables under $100:

Friendly Toys Sand and Water Table ($49)

Basic features: pretty basic - the two separate compartments for sand and water, two drainage plugs, and comes with 5 sand toys and flags.

Ratings: 7 ratings from Target average 4.5/5 stars, 33 reviews on Amazon average 4.5/5 stars (but note that it's currently out of stock on Amazon!).

Drawbacks: people complain about the cover (it's a "shower cap" type but doesn't fit well) and the flags break off easily.

Sand and Water Activity Table by Early Learning Centre (listed $89 but on sale at Amazon for $50 at time of writing)

Basic features: two separate compartments for sand and water, two removable plugs on each side, plastic table top two piece cover, includes 10 toys, table itself also has funnels and gears.

Ratings: 9 reviews on Amazon average 4.5/5 stars (Target doesn't appear to carry this one).

Drawbacks: one complaint about the drainage plugs, but others didn't seem to have that problem.

Step2 Play Up Adjustable ($69)

Basic features: two separate sides for sand and water, adjustable legs to make table grow with your child, plastic table top one piece cover, table itself has little slides/bridges in the water part, comes with a few toys and an umbrella for shade over the table.

Ratings: 32 reviews on Amazon average 4.5/5 stars, 2 reviews on Target average 4.5/5 stars.

Drawbacks: one of the Target reviews said that the sand and water are always mixing together, but I honestly find it hard to imagine a table that could stop a toddler from mixing them together.

The Dramatic Conclusion

I know the suspense is probably killing you, so if you must know, I bought the Sand and Water Activity Table by Early Learning Centre. I think what pushed me over to that one was the super sale right now, and that it has funnels and gears - both things that my son is way into right now. I want something that will keep him occupied as long as possible, and I think those features will be fascinating and very fun for him.

If I have saved anyone else even a fraction of the torture I went through trying to simply decide on a table to hold water and sand, this will have been worthwhile. And I have to say this does not bode well for making future decisions for what to buy for my son when the stakes are higher. Though really, when are they higher than when you have a toddler and you need something to entertain him so you can send a work email?


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    • profile image

      Brandy Mom of 3 

      6 years ago

      Our children love their water table. I found that the young ones end up drinking quite a bit of it so we use the Clean Water Fun garden hose filter to make the water safer ( I was previously using pitchers to fill it from the sink. This is so much easier!

    • twoseven profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      I'm glad it seems helpful! That's probably a good idea to wait til next summer - if you're not rushed, then you can find the best deal!

    • At Home Mommy profile image

      At Home Mommy 

      6 years ago from South Shore, Massachusetts

      Thanks for the hub! I'd been thinking about getting my daughter one of these but kind of gave up after finding there were so many options out there as you mentioned, plus she's still pretty young, so I think we might just wait till next summer. I will definitely be considering your hub when we get around to buying one, though.


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