The Best New Water Toys for Summer 2023

published May 26, 2023
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Children running through water sprinkler on a large lawn with trees, bushes in background
Credit: Ariel Skelley/Getty Images

Firmly in the category of things that only get better as the years go on: water toys for the backyard and pool. Kids can go so beyond hopping over the lawn sprinkler with the toys that are out this summer. These toys do need some attention from parents, who must hook up the hose, fill up the tank or inflate something depending on what any given toy requires. But once you get a water toy going, the party is on and you just need to watch. It’s pretty easy to lounge on a lawn chair and enjoy the kids having a blast.

Obligatory note of caution: Water play should always be supervised, especially with babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. When the play is done, drain the water out of a toy. That keeps things safe and keeps standing water from collecting debris.

1 / 10
was $50.00

If you’ve got a kid in the 2 to 5 range, this is a huge wow for the money. First: Be sure to have an automatic pump, because there’s a lot to inflate. Second: Make sure your kid sees that the hose connects to a creature’s butt, because that will be a laugh riot. Third: Although not shown in the picture, this comes with inflatable rings (try and toss them onto the flamingo neck) and balls to throw into the leaf (kind of like cornhole). But it’s also nice to just sit in the wading pool and chillax together.

2 / 10

This is an update to a perennial favorite preschoolers’ water table, now in mercifully muted colors (so it kinda blends in with your deck and patio). Multiple strainers, cups, and critters help two preschoolers play together. When they pour water into the top it “rains” down like a waterfall, sending the pinwheel spinning and just generally making a fun scene.

3 / 10
Pottery Barn Kids

Watch as kids approach this round water fountain and get up the courage to stick a toe in and then finally run across. Dare them to try and stand in the middle and count to 10. As they get wetter and braver they might try rolling or crawling across the multiple sprays. Pottery Barn recommends it for ages 3 and up.

4 / 10
was $25.50

Why shouldn’t your preschooler’s pool float look like a Batmobile? Especially if the pool water is chilly, your child will be psyched to ride around in this, sitting in the enclosed bottom. Push or pull them along until they’re ready to jump in the water. It best fits kids ages 3 to 5.

5 / 10

Ah, the element of surprise. A sibling or parent or dog won’t expect the water blast that hits them when your kid age 6 or up stomps on this. If water fights are a thing in your backyard, you’ll definitely want a Stomp Soaker in the arsenal. The tank holds 18.6 fluid ounces of water, a little more than a water bottle, so expect to refill it mid-battle. (Maybe have a couple of reusable water bottles standing by.) This could also be a fun way to have a kid water the vegetable garden, making that chore more fun.

6 / 10
was $21.97

Extend your little kid’s time in the wading pool with this junior version of a seek-and-find water game. Instead of diving deep to retrieve treasure, a preschooler simply hunts around the top of the water for gems that match their waterproof game card. There are 48 pieces and a mesh bag to hold them. In the winter, you can transfer the game to the bathtub. It’s for ages 3 to 6.

7 / 10

This is a splash-pad version of the classic Twister game, complete with a spinning wheel that dictates where a player has to put their foot or hand. (Your job will likely be spinning while the kids execute the moves.) The additional twist, in this case, is that the players are getting squirted with water the whole time. It’s for ages 3 and up, so even preschoolers can give this a try and practice their colors, shapes and following directions in a wet and wild way.

8 / 10

In a similar vein, this adds water to the fun of trying to feed plastic balls to open-mouthed hippos. Unlike the traditional game there are only two players, not four, and landing all the balls into the mouth is surprisingly difficult if you don’t cheat and get super close. But skill is not particularly the point of this game for ages 4 and up — it’s just all about getting soaked.

9 / 10

This new toy combines the kind of play you do with a water table with a sprinkler and a wading pool. The shallow basin is wide enough for kids to sit in while they use the little slide, lighthouse, and critters for imaginary games. Keeping it all fun: You can hook up the hose and have one side function as a sprinkler. That also means you’re not endlessly refilling the water table!

10 / 10

It’s the summer of Barbie and moms are nostalgic. Nab this Malibu-inspired pool float and ride it around the pool as you supervise the kids, or take it into the ocean with you. Funboy products are age-graded 14+ so you don’t have to share it unless your kids are older teens.

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