8 Best Kiddie Pools for Babies and Toddlers

Beat the heat this summer with a backyard kiddie pool
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Published April 5, 2023
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Image: Target
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Show us any backyard in the summer during the 1980s and ‘90s, and we’d be willing to bet there was a kiddie pool and a hardtop turtle sandbox chillin’ somewhere. The playful scene was iconic, and something that parents today are eager to recreate. The good news is that there are tons of kiddie pools to choose from, whether you’re short on space or have a large lawn to play with.

Want to avoid the crowds at the public pool or simply in the mood for some refreshing recreation at home? Enjoy the thrills and spills in your own backyard with a kiddie pool purchase. While buying an inflatable baby pool may seem like a no-brainer, there are actually a few factors to consider. Check out our top safety, setup and sanitation tips, and shop our list of the best kiddie pools around.

What to Look for in a Kiddie Pool

Kiddie pools are great places for your pod to cool off on a bright sunny day, but safety should never be overlooked. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), babies can drown in 1 or 2 inches of water, in as little as 20 seconds. Drowning occurs quickly and quietly, so the AAP recommends constant adult supervision whenever a child under the age of 5 is near water. In practice, this means staying within arm’s length and providing “touch supervision.” Beyond the supervisory concerns, you’ll also want to consider the following design specs when you’re shopping for a new kiddie pool:

Comfortable size

Consider what size baby pool will fit best in your space. While you probably won’t find hard plastic options that exceed 45 inches in diameter, inflatable varieties are available in a wide range of sizes. (For instance, a mini round pool at 40 inches or a towering activity center pool that soars to over 12 feet high). Keep in mind that larger pools are heavier and less portable, and inflatable options need to be blown up. Some come with a manual or electric pump, but others don’t, which means you’ll need to provide the air (via a pump or your own lungs).

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Easy storage options

Once summer is over, consider how you’ll store your kiddie pool for the next season. If you’re short on space, inflatable pools can come in clutch, as they can be emptied and compressed after each use. Hard plastic pools will either need to sit out (which isn’t the best idea when animals are afoot) or be stored inside a home, garage or shed.

Suitability for your children’s ages

Kiddie pools are generally suitable for toddlers, little kids and tweens. Some baby pools are appropriate for infants as young as 6 months old, provided they’re sitting up without assistance. Use the pool manufacturer’s age recommendations as a jumping-off reference point, but never as a reason to leave the pool unattended.

Worthwhile shade offerings

A dip in the kiddie pool on a hot summer day is super refreshing, but when the sun is shining, shade is a wonderful thing. Kiddie pools with canopies or alcoves work well, but the best options include full-coverage sun shades or an umbrella to protect kids from harmful UV rays.

Special features

From slides and sprinklers to climbing walls and ring toss games, when it comes to kiddie pool add-ons, options abound. Keep in mind that these “activity center” pools still have water in them, so slips and falls are bound to happen. This is why you’ll want to set up on a soft, level surface like grass (versus a driveway). Keep in mind that features enjoyed by older children—think sprinklers, sprayers or waterfalls—may be bothersome or overwhelming for younger toddlers and infants.

Best Kiddie Pools to Shop

With warmer weather on the horizon, big-box retailers will be putting their pools out ASAP—but you’ll have a much wider selection online. Scroll on for a list of our favorite kiddie pools. From an inflatable pool that fits the whole crew to a tote-worthy wading pool for tots, these picks are boatloads of fun.

Best inflatable kiddie pool

H2OGO! Sea Captain Inflatable Swimming Pool

All aboard for summertime fun! This inflatable kiddie pool is shaped like a boat to inspire imaginative play. Kids can sit and relax under the removable sunshade or chart a course using the steering wheel (complete with a horn) up front. The sea life graphics—anchors, waves, dolphins, starfish, crabs and more—add to the nautical theme. Although the PVC-crafted pool is durable, it comes with a repair patch in case of wear and tear. There’s also a “water watcher” tag to remind parents and other caregivers to designate one adult to supervise the fun.
Specs at a glance:

  • Dimensions: 84 (L) x 61 (W) x 52 (H) inches
  • Water capacity: 74 gallons
  • Age range: 2+ years
What We Love
  • Inflation is easy and can be setup within 10 minutes
  • Parents can sit inside with their kids
  • Steering wheel inspires imaginative play
Things To Consider
  • Air pump isn’t included
  • Unclear whether “UV Careful” sunshade actually has UPF protection

Best hard plastic kiddie pool

Step2 Play & Shade Pool

What do you get when you combine a water table with a classic hard plastic paddling pool? The Step2 Play & Shade Pool. Toddlers can splash around and use the funnel cups to activate the spinning water wheel. It has two molded seats that hold up to 50 pounds each, meaning siblings or friends can play side by side. And parents don’t have to worry (too much )about slips and falls, because the bottom of the pool is embossed with sea creatures that provide traction for tiny feet. Better yet, it comes with a detachable sun umbrella that provides a shady spot for summertime fun.
Specs at a glance:

  • Dimensions: 40 (L) x 40 (W) x 52 (H) inches
  • Water capacity: 12 gallons
  • Age range: 2 to 10 years
What We Love
  • Doubles as a sandbox
  • Full coverage sun umbrella
  • Easy to clean with disinfectant wipes or soap and water
Things To Consider
  • High price point
  • The pool is quite small
  • Low water capacity

Best kiddie pool with a slide

Intex Jungle Adventure Inflatable Play Center

When the kids are getting antsy and you can’t face the local splash park, tide them over ‘til the next time with the Inflatable Jungle Adventure Play Center. The kiddie pool features two pools, a smaller one up top (that can hold 15 gallons) and a larger one (that can hold up to 130 gallons) below, and other fun features like a ring toss and brightly colored balls that fit into the flamingo wall. But even with the happy hippo and alligator swimming alongside them, one part of this pool impresses kids more than anything else: the extra cushy slide with a safe-landing pad at the bottom!

  • Specs at a glance:
  • Dimensions: 96 (L) x 78 (W) x 28 (H) inches
  • Water capacity: 145 gallons (for both pools)
  • Age range: 2+ years
What We Love
  • Safety drain hole ensures water doesn’t exceed a depth of 4.5 inches
  • Shallow enough for toddlers
  • Water sprayers can be connected to a garden hose
Things To Consider
  • Air pump is not included
  • No rip patches provided

Best small kiddie pool

MINNIDIP Pool Minni-Minni in Gradient Splash
MINNIDIP Pool Minni Minni Citrus Wave
Image: Target
Buying Options
Target | $31.99

Next up is a mini inflatable pool for your little minnows. It’s made from soft-touch, non-toxic vinyl that’s incredibly durable, meaning it will last for a few seasons if properly maintained. The cushioned base adds an extra layer of comfort, and the pool itself is perfectly sized for kids ages 3 years and up. Plus, MINNIDIP has a fun range of peel and stick appliques to personalize kiddie pools—from letters and smileys to glitter and puppy dog patches.
Specs at a glance:

  • Dimensions: 12 (H) x 48 (W) x 48 (D) inches
  • Water capacity: 35 gallons
  • Age range: 3+ years
What We Love
  • Summer-ready design
  • Padded base
  • Easy to inflate with a standard air pump or even with a hairdryer set to cool
Things To Consider
  • No sun shade
  • Air pump not supplied
  • Low water capacity

Best large kiddie pool

Evajoy Large Inflatable Kiddie Pool
Image: Amazon
Buying Options
Amazon | $89.99

Many above ground pools are billed as kiddie pools, but they call for more advanced assembly and more sophisticated filtration systems (or the addition of chemicals to keep them clean). For something that’s safer for kids and easier for parents to set up, turn to Evajoy’s large kiddie pool. It doesn’t have any crazy bells and whistles, but the roomy pool comfortably fits two adults or up to five kids—so, if your little ones want a party, they’ve got it! Bonus: This inflatable kids’ pool doubles as a ball pit
Specs at a glance:

  • Dimensions: 118 (L) x 72 (W) x 20 (H) inches
  • Water capacity: 312 gallons
  • Age range: 3+ years
What We Love
  • Durable PVC hull
  • Easily emptied using the 90 degree water drainage pipe
  • Three inflatable chambers prevent air and water from escaping
Things To Consider
  • Air pump is sold separately

Best kiddie wading pool

Babymoov Aquani Marine

Babymoov’s Aquani Marine is specifically designed for the smallest of sun seekers. The mini oasis functions as a baby beach tent, ball pit and wading pool. In tent mode it’s the perfect spot for a mid-morning nap, thanks to the removable mosquito net and cushioned base. And when you want to turn it into a “paddling” pool for your baby over 6 months old, simply remove the comfort mattress and fill the waterproof base with up to 20 gallons of water. The best part? It sports a large UPF 50+ canopy that blocks up to 99 percent of harmful UVA and UVB rays.
Specs at a glance:

  • Dimensions: 24 (H) x 35 (W) x 35 (D) inches
  • Water capacity: 20 gallons
  • Age range: 6 months to 10 years
What We Love
  • Removable sun canopy and mosquito net
  • Includes carry bag for easy transportation
  • Comes with two dangling toys
Things To Consider
  • High price point
  • No drainage holes

Best cheap kiddie pool

Sun Squad Wading Kiddie Pool in Blue
Wading Kiddie Pool Blue Sun Squad
Image: Target
Buying Options
Target | $12

You probably remember splashing about in a kiddie pool like this when you were younger, right? The streamlined, no-fuss hard plastic design has been around for decades—with good reason. It’s easy to set up, easy to dump out and easy on the wallet as well. Plus, the embossed design around the perimeter and on the base helps slippery feet gain traction. It’s crafted with lightweight yet extremely durable plastic that won’t bend or cave inwards when you pick it up. Not bad for $12!
Specs at a glance:

  • Dimensions: 8 (H) x 45 (W) x 45 (D) inches
  • Water capacity: 26 gallons
  • Age range: 3+ years
What We Love
  • Affordable price point
  • Doubles as a sandbox
  • Tried and tested design
Things To Consider
  • Doesn’t come with a sun shade
  • No drainage holes

Best splurge kiddie pool

Little Tikes Slam 'n Curve Inflatable Water Slide with Blower
Little Tikes Slam 'n Curve Inflatable Water Slide with Blower
Image: Walmart

If you plan to use a kiddie pool on the regular, this one by Little Tikes is a worthwhile investment. It boasts an incredible water slide that flows into a roomy wading pool area, plus a climbing wall and basketball hoop to keep energetic kids busy. We also like the fact that it’s large enough for multiple children to use at once, but folds compactly for easy storage.
Specs at a glance:

  • Dimensions: 168 (L) x 108 (W) x 84 (H) inches
  • Weight capacity: 350 pounds
  • Age range: 5 to 10 years
What We Love
  • Huge slide and rockwall
  • Comes with a heavy-duty blower and ground stakes
Things To Consider
  • High price point
  • Not suitable for babies or toddlers
  • Harder to stay within touching distance of children using this pool

How to Keep a Kiddie Pool Clean

Kiddie pools lack filtration systems and should never be treated with chemicals (chlorine or bromine). As disinfectants are not added to the water, germs can easily spread in small inflatable or plastic kiddie pools and water slides. To avoid a grotty pool, regular cleaning sessions are a must. The following cleaning steps are recommended by the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • Drain or dump the water after every swim session
  • Remove any debris
  • Rinse off any remaining dirt using fresh water
  • Leave the pool to air dry

Should a child get sick or soil themselves in the pool (with or without a swim diaper on), put pool time on pause and clean it out. If any poop or vomit are floating around, you’ll want to put on gloves and use a bag or a filter to scoop all of the particles out before cleansing the rest of the area.

How We Chose the Best Kiddie Pools

To help streamline your shopping and highlight the best kiddie pools on the market today, we considered a list of criteria when sourcing products, including ease of use, quality and durability, value, style and, last but definitely not least, safety. We consulted water safety recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics and read up on hygiene tips by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We also read user reviews to get the low-down on how these products work for families, and didn’t consider anything with less than an average four-star rating…

Interested in learning more about our editorial process? Read about how our team develops and reviews all articles here.

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