Best Water Beads Overall: MarvelBeads Water Beads

Let’s talk safety before we get to our water beads recommendations. Yes, they are fun—but follow these safety rules.

These small beads grow to pea or marble size when you add water. They should only be used by kids age 3 and up and only with adult supervision. We recommend this as an outdoor activity. 

Why not use them indoors? Well, water beads can be hard to clean up—they are slippery, hard to sweep/vaccuum, etc. Take our advice: these are an outside toy! You should never use water beads inside in a sink or tub, as they can clog plumbing.

Don’t soak beads in cold water and then suddenly add warm water. That can cause the beads to break. The water temperature should be consistent if you add more water.

Water beads take time to grow—4 to 6 hours. And sometimes longer.

Use distilled water to make the beads last longer.

MarvelBeads is our pick for best water beads toy. This package contains 20,000 multi-color beads. Here’s more on why we picked this brand:

What We Liked

• Colorfast.

• Take 3-6 hours to grow to full size.

• Biodegradable.

• Grow to the size of a marble. 

• Can be stored when wet in a plastic tub.

What Needs Work

• Beads can break. We didn’t sees any breakage in our tests, but we see some reports that the beads can break during play. That’s why water beads should be used under adult supervision at all times.

• Clear beads can be hard to see. Cleanup can be a challenge if you can’t see all the beads in a play area!

Best Tried & True Brand: Orbeez Water Beads

Orbeez was one of the first brands of water beads and their jar with 2000 water beads is a good choice. We liked the plastic container with screw-top lid. Here’s more:

What We Liked

• Fully grown water beads. If you need to do a science project and don’t have time to wait around to see water beads grow, this pack is for you.

• Great for sensory play.

What’s Needs Work

•  Not biodegradable. 

Best Larger Size Water Beads: UMIKU Water Beads

If you prefer larger size beads, we’d recommend UMIKU’s water beads. These grow to about a third of an inch in diameter and take about three to four hours to fully expand—that’s quicker than other brands we tested.

What We Liked

• Affordable.

• Great for kiddie-size swimming pools. The larger beads take up more space—hence you need fewer beads to fill a kiddie pool!

• Eco-friendly resin.

• Don’t break as easy as other brands we tested.

Why Trust Us

We’ve been rating and reviewing baby gear, including high chairs, since 1994. We do hands-on testing—we buy the products with our own money and evaluate with an eye toward safety, ease of use and affordability.

Here’s another key point: we don’t take money from the brands we review. No free samples, no sponsors, no “partnerships.” Baby Bargains is your independent and unbiased source for expert baby gear reviews.