My Kids Have Played with Dozens of Backyard Water Toys Over the Years — Here Are the Ones They Really Loved

published Jul 3, 2024
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Children filling water gun and having fun in the summer
Credit: MelkiNimages / Getty Images

Every year when summer rolls around, my family makes a beeline for the water. We love lazing by the pool and spending hours at the beach, but more often than not, we have to make our own fun in our (sadly pool-less) backyard. We’ve played with dozens of different water toys over the years — splash pads in the early years, then kiddie pools and family games. These are a few of our favorites.

1 / 10
was $24.99

Some sprinklers are just too powerful for little kids to enjoy. This one, from Melissa and Doug, is a great choice for little ones because it releases smaller jets of water, perfect for smaller kiddos, and the 12 Splash Patrol grubs are super sweet with their big eyes and little red hats.

2 / 10

If you’ve got a trampoline in your back yard, now is the time to give it a very wet upgrade with this sprinkler set, which is mounted on your trampoline net, turning a backyard investment (that your kids regularly complain is ‘boring’) into a bouncing, splashing, water park.

3 / 10

Even babies love to splash, and this charming splash pad is just as adorable as they are with its bright and cheerful, smiling sun. This is a good starter toy for crawlers and water-curious tots, and if you love the design, Pottery Barn has a handful of products, including a kiddie pool and beach ball in the same style.

4 / 10
was $56.99

The sit and spin toy we grew up with has gotten an aquatic upgrade in the Little Tikes Fun Zone Dual Twister, which adds jets of water that kids can control by touching a button located in the center of the wheel. Fun for solo play or dynamic duos.

5 / 10

It’s an inflatable! It’s a sprinkler! It’s a ring toss! This cute cactus sprinkler shoots spinning jets of water while your kids run around trying to toss rings on the cactus branches (Are they even called branches when it’s a cactus? You get the point.) Just pump it up (an electric air pump will make short work of it), and attach to your house, and then sit back and enjoy the show.

6 / 10

Think of this as baby’s first water slide. With its sweet rainbow design and soft center slide, your littlest family members can have fun while safely exploring the water. There’s also a sprayer attachment that hooks onto your hose for an extra sprinkle of fun. And inflatable water toys are included to extend that playtime a little further.

7 / 10

I have to admit that I would never think to give a kid a kiddie pool for their birthday, but that’s just what happened with this exact pool when my now 6-year-old turned 5, and she still calls it "the pool Uma gave me" every time she asks to blow it up and splash in it, which seems like a daily occurrence. Lesson learned: A big, tufted kiddie pool is a fantastic gift for kids of all ages — especially those with summer birthdays.

8 / 10

If your family enjoys playing the classic board game Let’s Go Fishin’, they’re going to love this Hook the Duck game with a very similar concept. Players must use a hook to grab ducks that are floating around in a stream of water, honing hand-eye coordination, reflexes, and focus in a fun, wet way.

9 / 10
was $99.99

Water tables hold a special fascination for toddlers, and this one will keep them made in the shade, thanks to its attached umbrella. It's equipped with toys for scooping, pouring, straining, and squirting. Plus, it also functions as a sand table for bonus sensory play, and sand is included.

10 / 10

Perfectly suited to late preschool, early elementary-aged kids, this water activity kit includes two separate waterplay options. First, there’s a dynamic water play table that kids can help put together and then spend curious hours dumping water through the moveable gears and drawing on the acrylic surface with crayons. And the two Splash Blasters are a great choice for water-squirting fun that’s not gun-related, and they include a bonus lesson in physics as kids learn about the power of the pump.