On a sweaty and sticky day there is nothing better than jumping into a cold pool, then drying off and lounging poolside. Kids don’t care if it’s 100 degrees or 10, they want to swim, and as moms we don’t always want to get in with them. (Think cold water hitting the midriff – it’s the worst!) For the best of both worlds – the ability to swim when you want, then just supervise when you want – is the backyard kiddie pool.
The reason kiddie pools are so great is because they’re simple and fun. Kiddie pools aren’t so much about learning to swim as they are for cooling off and making everyone a little less irritable. For babies, splash pads and little pools can get them used to the water in an approachable way. For bigger kids they can feel like they’re in a real above ground pool— making for an awesome staycation. As a bonus, kiddie pools also have so many alternate uses when our LOs outgrow them (Pet pool? Hey, a bride even died her dress green in one!).
At this time of the year when the “oh sh*t I have to put on a bathing suit” panic is starting to hit, the competition for backyard pools is fierce. Think too hard about committing and poof it’s gone out of your cart! We’ve taken the pressure off by collecting 10 no brainer options for kids of all ages (and adults too) to help beat the heat this summer. Mamas who are pregnant AF, these are as much for you as they are for the littles!
Best Pools for Babies & Toddlers
For little ones (and moms) who are a little put off by the thought of a hard plastic kiddie pool for BB, SwimSchool has the solution. Designed for little babes ages 6-18 months, this inflatable pool has back support and a center post to keep them both safe and entertained. The splash pad holds just enough water for baby to have fun splashing and the added bonus of including ring toys keeps them occupied for hours!
Ideally babies should not be exposed to direct sunlight for long, which is why we love the removable canopy on this baby pool with SPF 50 protection. A pool this little and cute can be quite mobile too. A trip to grandma’s house or the beach and BB still has her own personal play pool. One genius mama we know brought the fun indoors when the temperature was too hot for BB. She simply put down pet pads on the floor to make clean up a cinch! We say, try it in your bathroom shower.
Once baby has learned to run, watch out! Toddlers love to run and jump in puddles – and on furniture, and stairs, and anywhere else they shouldn’t be! SplashEZ has created the perfect blend of baby pool and splash pad for our active and excitable toddlers. Realistically, they don’t have the coordination to be working on their breaststroke out in the backyard. Instead they want to cool off and act a fool in the water in a way mom won’t let them during bathtime.
Insert the splash pad – Yes mamas you need this! Let them run, jump, tire themselves out with minimal yard mess as the pad attaches to a garden hose and sprays a continuous stream of water for LOs to navigate through. The water pools up to a shallow level for when they’re tired out and just want to sit in their swim diaper (at 5’ there’s room for even mom to sit). Our favorite bonus of an already awesome summer time toy? The ABCs design on the pad making this both educational and fun!
Looking for the classic backyard pool for a toddler? Intex, the leader in above ground pools (more on that later), created a cute and functional backyard hideaway for our LOs who just want to get wet and crawl around with floaties. Small enough that mom can grab junior from anywhere, yet big enough to give baby room to feel like they’re “swimming”, the Intex Inflatable Stars Swimming Pool is our top pick for toddlers.
One reviewer commented, “This pool has totally surpassed my expectations! It has lasted all summer with no rips/holes or other issues and we only had to add more air a few times. My twin toddlers played -mostly climbing in and out over and over – in the pool at least 4 days a week for hours. I was sure they’d put a hole in it at some point since they can be a little rough, but nope! Good overall size for two of them to play and a nice height, not too deep or to shallow. It was relatively easy for toddlers to get in and out and I wasn’t worried about them slipping and busting a lip on a hard, plastic edge.”
What’s more fun than a water park for kids? Intex channeled this pastime when creating their Fishing Fun Play Center. Not only can our kiddos have fun in the sun but with this play center they’re also honing their fishing skills. It comes with two inflatable fish, 6 balls to fit into the wall that allow our little ones to work on their dexterity and gross motor skills while beating the summer heat. Complete with an awesome surprise for the little ones, just attach the garden hose to the water sprayer that is located in the palm tree for a truly tropical feel.
Big enough to sit in to cool off, (but small enough to keep our mommy heart rates down, unlike bigger options), this inflatable pool is perfect for little toddlers ages 18 months and up. Measuring just 7’ long and 2’ wide, this pool won’t take up a lot of backyard real estate and could easily work on a porch, patio, or city apartment balcony. Alternately this pool could be filled with sand for some indoor fishing fun on those rainy summer days.
Best Pools for Preschoolers
Summer Escapes Molded Pool is what we traditionally think of as kiddie pools. A plastic kiddie pool that can serve multiple purposes aside from cooling off tots (dog baths, cooling pregnant women, rinsing feet before entering the big pool, etc) is a must have in all houses. Bright and colorful designs make this kid friendly, but the size and depth make it mom friendly too. Bigger kids who have entered preschool love to tell us moms how to do everything. They are experts in it all, including swimming!
Sized right for the know it all swimmer there is enough water to get their laps in or just sit and relax. The durable material and no assembly required design make this easy to set up, and easy to use year after year. Store it in the garage on the off season or turn it into a ball pit in the playroom. When summer returns just fill with water and enjoy!
Ask any preschooler— if this pool fits in your backyard, buddy’s gotta have it! It’s like a personal playpen of water fun ready in just 10 minutes. The four foot square is only one foot deep, but has the look and feel of a real above ground pool. The heavy duty metal frame is durable to last multiple summers and through multiple kids but is also padded to keep the pool ouch free. Sized right for preschoolers ages 3 and up, this 90 gallon capacity pool (complete with a floor drain) has over 500 five star reviews on Amazon.
One ingenious reviewer had these protips to share, “It was easy to assemble after some thought, as the instructions were a little less than clear. I have it set up on a concrete porch with a foam play mat under it. It’s the perfect amount of cushion. As someone else mentioned, the drain is in the BOTTOM and corner of the pool. I prop something under that corner to help things along, and just flip the pool and empty it when the water level gets low enough.”
Intex, a globally renowned company, has made kiddie pools like this Crystal Blue Inflatable Pool a little more exciting than us mamas remember them being. Intex started designing pools in 1997 and has not stopped innovating backyard fun since then. According to their website, “Our objective is to deliver the highest quality products at an affordable price, all designed for comfort, safety and fun. For over 10 years, we’ve worked with our supplier to reduce the amount of fossil fuels used.”
Our preschoolers don’t care what material their pools are made out of or how durable they are, but we do. There’s a reason this is Amazon’s number one best seller, and that’s because dogs, husbands, and brides (yes you read that right) have all used this kiddie pool to suit their needs. We’ve seen and heard stories of everything from backyard play to dad’s taking a lawn mowing time out in this classic. If it can meet a bride’s expectations, surely it can work for our demanding preschoolers!
Best Pools for Bigger Kids (And Adults)
We are loving the Intex Swim Center Family Pool right now. It’s big enough for our older kids (5 & up) to swim around in while we sit back, relax, and cool off. This kiddie pool is as much for the kiddos as it is the parents. Measuring only 7.5’ long, it’s not much bigger than some of our little kid suggestions, but the water will fill to a deeper level. Protip for this one, make sure you have an air compressor to assist with the inflation process. It should only take about 10 minutes if you do. (We know impatient kids are hard to keep happy!)
One reviewer shared, “This pool was perfect – good price for holding two young kids (2 and 5) all summer. Even large enough for one adult to sit with them or 2-3 other small children. It held up to many uses – including the walls being bounced on, hard toys being against the sides and bottom, and even a slide being rested on the side. Pretty sure I only had to add air once or twice all season.”
Maybe you’re not ready to commit to the headache and maintenance of a true above ground pool. (Seriously who has time to add that to the list?) Intex’s Easy Set Swimming Pool can give all the kids (and the parents too) the feeling of hanging by the pool on a staycation, without the long term commitment. Big enough to fit up to four kids and two adults, it’s like giving kids a pool party in a box that we can pack up and put away at the end of the season.
Our kids will love the space and freedom to swim, while we enjoy the logistical features of this one. We recommend upgrading and ordering the package of the pool filter pump and cover (to minimize maintenance all summer long). For minimal cost and setup this one is sure to create a maximum impact on your family’s summer.
Looking for more ways to entertain the littles? Check out all of our mom approved kids gear for more summer fun.