Nothing beats the intense heat of summer like a splash into some cool water! For the privilege of some pool time, my children suddenly regain the ability to independently do their chores, get changed, brush their teeth, and let me smear their faces with sunblock. And all this in record time! Even with the inevitable splashes that get in their eyes (or noses), children almost always leave a pool happily exhausted and ready for a nap. Hooray! As your children enjoy being active on the sunny days ahead, you can also enjoy playing with them as they fine-tune their motor skills and abilities to resolve conflicts. Because every wants the one beach ball!
Of course, we don’t always have access to a standard pool, and the cost or convenience of going to a community pool can be taxing. Investing in a kiddie pool that fits your budget and outdoor space is a great way to give your child the experience of water play. Of course, you need to always supervise your child as they play in a pool, and make sure they know any safety guidelines you feel are appropriate. What can you do to find the best fit for your family? Let’s take a look.
How to Choose the Right Kiddie Pool for Your Family
- Pick the right size for your family and outdoor space. These pools come in a variety of dimensions, so make sure you’ll have enough room for the one you choose. Likewise, if you have a young child you may want to select a pool with a shallow capacity.
- Check the details. Does the pool you like require a pump to fill, and if so, what kind of pump? Are there repair patches or additional plugs included? Do you want a pool that can be packed up and taken to other locations easily? Do I have a hose to use with a pool’s sprinkler feature?
- Test it when it arrives. Many of these options are inflatable, and occasionally punctures can occur while in transport. Plan ahead if you hope to use your pool for an event, and check your pool for leaks or troublesome plugs when you first use it. If there’s an issue, report it the seller right away, and the seller is typically prompt in sending a replacement (or possibly refunding you).
Here are our ten top options for kiddie pools. Please note that none of these pools are of the thin plastic shell variety. While those are widely available at local stores and often a reliable option, they are difficult to ship to individual houses if ordering online, and they lack many of the features available in the section below..
Five Basic Pools for Kids
Intex Swim Center Paradise Pool
The oblong shape offers some variety within this section on basic pools, with plenty of room for lots of friends to join in the water games. In addition to the playful design on the outside, the pool can hold up to twelve inches of water (with 151 gallon capacity) and has 2 air chambers with double valve intake and an exhaust valve. So note that an electric pump is also strongly suggested for this model! The pool can be stored in its box when not in use, and comes with a patch kit just in case. Due to its shape, it does require more space than many kiddie pools. So before you decide on this one, make sure you’ll have enough room to enjoy it comfortably!
Intex Inflatable Aquarium Baby Pool
With its super shallow design, this pool is an excellent choice for infants or toddlers who love water play! Small enough to set up or store easily, there’s enough room for a few small friends to play together. The sprinkler feature, which runs with a hose attached, will delight children who already love splashing or it can be left off for more water-shy kiddos. The adorable fish and shark print on the bottom is accompanied by two inflatable fish toys. These, like the pool itself, are easily inflated without the need for a pump. As always, let your child enjoy with supervision, and note that the surface can be slippery to walk on.
BigMouth Inc. Inflatable Hamburger Kiddie Pool
Rather than a “kiddie” pool, I like to call this a “foodie” pool! This inflatable comes with hamburger, watermelon, or frosted donut designs. At five feet wide, there’s lots of room for kiddos and maybe even a parent or two to join in on cooling off! Some parents recommend this as a feature for themed parties. It’s also about a foot and a half tall when inflated, which invites extra fun for older children comfortable with the depth. Bear in mind that the seller recommends an air mattress pump to inflate this pool! This pool is similar in strength and design to other inflatable pools out there, but the design offers a touch of whimsy that sets it apart and will set your little ones giggling!
Step 2 Play and Shade Pool
With the greatest longevity, this classic pool from Step 2 is a great option for young children! It’s constructed of sturdy hard plastic, comes with an umbrella to set up as a shade, and has two molded seats. Textured plastic at the bottom will help little ones to keep their footing. Plus, some fun toys are included: funnel cups and a wheel that children will delight to set spinning over and over again. These can be attached to the umbrella pole too, for additional variety. Of course, this item will require a larger storage space because it doesn’t fold up, so take that into consideration if you are interested in this. There’s also no plug to drain the water, so it will have to be tipped over to empty after play. This makes a great backyard gift for your kids.
Intex Wishing Well Swim Center Pool
I have never seen a pool like this before! In the center of the 110 inch wide pool is a taller “well” section. The center section is just over 11 inches tall, while the outer walls are around 8 inches tall. This brilliant idea creates more play options for children even without additional toys, and there’s enough room for a small party (or army) to enjoy the water together. The clear blue sides are decorated with schools of colorful fish. There is a waterfall feature as well as a sprinkler spray, and it’s another pool that a supervising adult can enjoy along with the kids. The biggest challenge that reviewers mention is the time it takes to drain and clean this pool after using it.
Imaginative Kiddie Pools for Extra Fun in the Sun
Pop-Up Frog Travel Pool
While this option is mostly practical, the playful frog shade turns it into a hilarious play place for your 1 or 2-year-old. Best of all, this kiddie pool is designed to be easily portable, and can be used as a secure water play area for infants who can sit independently. It comes with a storage bag to make your travels with it easier, and when filled can hold up to six inches of water. With the shade, your little one can be protected from harsh sun exposure while happily staying out of sandy waves. It can be tricky to figure out how to put it away in its storage bag, but there are youtube videos that will make it easier.
Intex Mystic Unicorn Inflatable Spray Pool
This magically fun pool offers some unique traits. Designed for children ages two and up, the unicorn features are large and but are on the outside of the main pool ring, leaving plenty of room for the water play. It looks like it will most comfortably fit two to three children at the same time and has a sprinkler feature that works by attaching a hose. It’s sturdy and holds up well under lots of playtime. It does come with a repair patch and requires a pump to inflate. If you want a kiddie pool with maximum impact without too many parts, this unicorn pool is a perfect fit! This can double well as a swim floatie in a regular pool, so it can be a multi-tasking member of the family!
Intex Candy Zone Inflatable Play Center
This pool goes above and beyond to invite hours of play for children. It features a slide with two inflatable and removable lollipops, bubble gum and candy cane-striped decorations, and six balls with rails to slide the balls along. The water sprayer will keep your child coasting merrily down the slide, and the additional padding at the bottom will ensure a safe landing. Due to the many air chambers and separate pieces, it is much easier to inflate this play center with a pump. Designed for children ages two to ten years old, your whole family will surely think this kiddie pool is “totally sweet”.
Homelux Inflatable Dinoland Backyard Mini Water Park
For an absolutely “prehistoric” summer of fun, check out this Dinoland pool! The slide with an overhead sprayer will keep kids, ages two and up, giggling and hurrying back for more turns. The features on this are too cute, with a long-necked dinosaur arch, a pterosaur and swirling palm tree alongside the slide, and a large carnivore inflatable too (which is separate and can be moved around the pool as needed). The pool comes with inflatable rings to toss onto the nose of a pteradactyl and six balls to either roll down a ramp or toss basketball-style through the ring held by the yellow carnivore. It’s more like a mini carnival than just a pool! To enjoy all these features, it will require lots of inflating, and once again, an electric air pump is strongly recommended.
Intex Summer Lovin’ Beach Play Center Pool
Don’t be deceived by the smaller scale of this pool! Its shallower depth is great for young children, though it’s designed for kids ages two to ten to enjoy it. The main highlights are the water sprayer (which again requires being hooked up to a running hose) and the sand castle with a ball-toss feature. Though the shade promises to alleviate the intensity of sunshine, some reviewers pointed out that it’s made of a clear material and so doesn’t create a significant amount of relief. An electric pump is handy for inflating this pool, though it be inflated without one. This is a great option for a family that may minimal yard space, but wants to pack in maximum fun.
Final Thoughts and Recommendations
Once you’ve made your choice, be sure to safely store your pool when it’s not in use. You’ll want your family to enjoy your kiddie pool to the max, so lengthen its lifespan with careful storage!
There are so many options for kiddie pools available that it can be difficult to navigate the search for the best fit. These pools have withstood the splashing and jumping fun of other families the best, so you can turn to them as great options for your family, too! Of the basic pools reviewed, the Step 2 Play and Shade Pool’s sturdy construction makes it a standout choice for families with young children. For a more creative option, the Homelux Inflatable Dinoland Backyard Mini Water Park provides lots of playful features, but will require a more intensive setup. Take the time to determine what will work best for your needs, and get ready for an extra fun, extra splashy summer!