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As many parents know, one of the best ways to keep small children happy when the weather is hot is to take them to the pool or beach. Since traveling to a large body of water isn’t always practical, kiddie pools may just be the next best thing. You don’t have to work very hard to convince kids to go outside and play when there’s a pool to splash around in and the convenience of them allows you to stay close while still doing yard work.
Even though it’s pool built for kids, be sure to still practice and teach proper safety protocols — like always supervising children near water and enforcing a walk-only policy on slippery pool surfaces — as these will hopefully stick with them around larger pools.
Small kiddie pools for ages two and under are suitable for babies and are less expensive, but you will want a larger one if you have a toddler. Babies who can sit up will enjoy splashing around and may like playing with water toys, plastic cups, plastic utensils and large sponges. Older children obviously need more space, so you’ll want to look for deeper wading pools and larger ones with fun accessories like water slides.
These pools are generally constructed out of inflatable vinyl or hard plastic. You can inflate the vinyl kind with an electric air pump, manual or foot pump, by blowing it up yourself or by using a hair dryer.
Note that some pools are tall enough that it can be harder to see what the children are doing if you’re not close enough to your chair or towel. Inflatable pools are easier to store once they’re deflated, but they are also more prone to punctures. Hard plastic pools have lower sides and don’t have to be inflated, but they might have hard edges and will almost certainly take up more storage space.
Our sister site Don’t Waste Your Money has a team of experts that spends hundreds of hours analyzing, testing and researching products to help consumers make informed purchasing decisions. Here are their top picks for the Best Kids’ Pools.
This pool is actually marketed as a dog pool primarily but little kids will almost surely love it, as it has a vibrant red shell and holds just enough for little ones to wade. They can cool off and splash around in it safely, thanks to a base material that’s graded as slip-resistant base material. In addition, the polyvinyl chloride (PVC) material the pool is made from should last longer than a typical inflatable model might.
This kids’ pool is made from an industrial-grade PVC that is tear-resistant, so you can hopefully count on more play and less headaches. The built-in drain is another plus, allowing for rapid release of the water when playtime is done.
If you’re looking for a pool for bigger kids, this one is a winner. It is deeper than many models on the market, which makes it easier for taller and older kids to play around in. It’s even big enough for adults, thanks to its 118-by-72-by-22-inch measurements.
Important Considerations for Pools
Kids’ pools are not designed to last longer than a few years, so don’t overspend. And if your inflatable swimming area gets a hole, you may be able to buy a vinyl pool-patch kit at a low price.
To keep them intact for as long as possible, don’t let pets play in inflatable pools, and keep sharp objects like twigs away. Look for models that have grips on the bottoms so they won’t be as slippery, and remember that young children must be supervised at all times when playing in any pool. If you have a larger pool that is semi-permanent or permanent, you’ll also need to use chlorine.
If it’s too cold to swim, or if your children don’t prefer doing so, you can also use these pools as sandboxes, ball pits and “fishing ponds” with toy fishing poles and faux finned friends.