The paddling pools Mumsnetters swear by
Summer is on its way and paddling pools are an excellent ways to keep kids cool and entertained. It's easier than taking them to the beach, cheaper than taking them to the swimming pool, and a decent one will last until they outgrow it. Of course, the kids aren't the only ones who enjoy a paddle – you might want to dip your toes every now and then. If you have a dog, we've even included one for them. Here are the paddling pools Mumsnetters swear by.
Things to consider when buying a paddling pool
- Your child’s age
Checking age suitability is particularly important when choosing a paddling pool because it relates not only to the size of the pool – you don't want to get one that's too small for your children, or which they will soon grow out of – but also to safety. There are paddling pools for babies – which require close supervision, obviously – through to 12-year-olds, although as you'll see from one or two on the list below, you can get them for adults too.
- Paddling pool size
Paddling pools are a great way for kids to enjoy themselves in the water in a confined space. So even if you only have a small terrace, there should be a paddling pool for you. Of course, if you have a large garden then you can get a big pool and let the kids splash as much water over the sides as they like. As well as making sure you get a paddling pool to fit its allotted space, you need to think about its depth. Even a few inches of water can be of drowning risk to children, so always supervise them when they are playing in a pool, even if it looks very shallow.
- Paddling pool lining
Cheap pools can be a great option, since as we all know, as much excitement as they caused to start with, children can often lose interest in new entertainment. The problem with cheap paddling pools, however, is that they can tear. For babies and toddlers this might not be a problem but kids any older than that are likely to play boisterously in the water, as it tends to make them excited. You don't want to be telling them calm it down, so you need a pool that will stand up to the test and not fall apart.
- Where will you put your paddling pool?
If you're putting your paddling pool on the grass then it should be fine without anything else underneath it. If, however, you plan to put it on concrete then you need to put something softer underneath – rubber matting, for example. Storage is also worth considering. Where will you keep it in the cooler months when it's not in use? Find out if it folds up into a compact shape that can be easily stored.
- Does it come with a pump?
Most paddling pools do not come with a pump. True, some do come with one included, but make sure you check first as the last thing you want is to promise your children an afternoon in their brand new paddling pool and then discover that you haven't got a way to inflate it. If it doesn't come with a pump, you should be able to pick one up fairly cheaply that you can use to inflate other items. Another thing to ask – does it come with a repair kit? After all, paddling pools do tear and get punctured, so having tools to hand for a quick fix is useful.
Chad Valley Family Swim Centre, £30
This one's big enough for you and your children to splash around in all at once. It’s sturdy and should stand up to the most exuberant kids on a hot day. Its depth means it’s not suitable for under-threes but, for the rest of you, it should be a brilliant addition to your family summer. Helpfully, the manufacturer tells us it takes approximately 13 minutes to inflate and 23 minutes to fill. Alternatively, if you just want to supervise your smaller children while they take a splash, you could consider Chad Valley's smaller 400L model.
“I recommend the Chad Valley Family Swim Centre Pool. At 9ft and 982L, it’s ideal for six to nine-year-olds.”Buy it now from Argos
Asda Kid Connection Inflatable Family Pool, £20
Here’s another for the whole family – and at even better value it could be the one if you’re not confident there'll be enough sun to warrant paying out for a pricier model. Asda’s paddling pools are a reliable go-to option for Mumsnetters and this comfortable, spacious and durable model comes equipped with a double-valve system that makes it both easy to set up and deflate. And as you can see from the comments below, it has adult purposes too (no not that kind!).
“Head to Asda for a paddling pool, you can sit with your feet in it to cool off when the kids aren’t using it.”
“We got a standard blow-up paddling pool from Asda and used it as a birthing pool! Afterwards, I gave it a rinse out and it was good to go again for the kids in the summer.”Buy it now
Intex 15ft (4.6m) round prism frame pool, £393.94
Intex is popular with Mumsnetters who want a larger pool to cool off in, although this manufacturer does make smaller models, including a wonderful paddling pool with seats for under £40. They cover the whole range, from blow-up paddling pools, through to collapsible structures, to large pools like the one featured – that has hydro aeration technology to improve water clarity. Basically, it's a small portable swimming pool, which kids can swim in and adults can use for relaxing. It can hold more water than a traditional round frame pool and even has Mosaic tile print inside the grey liner.
“We've got one of those big Intex ones. We leave it up year round and we are on our fourth year now… It's fab!”
“We bought an Intex pool when we moved to Cyprus. It wasn't any hassle at all, and was a life saver when the heat topped 40 degrees.”
“We have an Intex rigid sided pool and our kids are in it as often as they possibly can!”Buy it now from Amazon
Early Learning Centre Bouncy Palace, £35 (was £50)
Another from the ever popular ELC, this bouncy castle/pool combo would be an excellent two-in-one option for children aged three to eight, although note that you have to buy the pool separately for £20. It’s a lovely idea, bouncing away on the colourful castle, before cooling off with a splash in the paddling pool (or ball pool, depending what you fill it with). Great for active play and physical development (as well as tiring them out in time for bed time).
“We've bought an ELC castle paddling pool, it's quite a small pool, but my kids think it's great.”
“I bought a smaller castle from ELC which was £40 and came with a paddling pool. It is fine for my three who are age two, four and five.”
“It is great! It's been a lifesaver this weekend and it's really good value.”Buy it now from the ELC
Trespass Bellyflop paddling pool, £14.46 (was £21.99)
The surfer turtle print makes this one very cool toddler paddling pool. Made of three rings, it's quick and easy to inflate which means that, as soon as the sun comes out, they can jump straight in. When they're finished, it can be be deflated and folded up without taking up too much space. It's on the cheaper side and suitable for kids aged three and older, so perhaps ideal if you're looking to give young ones their introduction to paddling.
“I just bought a decent cheapish one from Trespass. It has high sides so the water will stay in on a sloping garden. It was cheap and has been really good so far.”Buy it now from Amazon
Bestway Fast Set Pool, £48.07
Quick to inflate and easy to store, this is a favourite among Mumsnetters. It comes in a range of sizes – we’ve gone for the third of the six available – so you can choose the best for you. It's also strong enough to be set up on a patio if you intend to leave it up for a while and are worried about flattening your grass. That said, even though it’s made of extra strong PVC, which means you shouldn’t need to worry about tears, it’s also easy to assemble and put away after use.
“We had it up for a week before half-term and my daughter loved it. It is really more of a proper pool than a paddling pool. If you want to have the same water in it all summer then you will need water treatment kit. It’s a lot of fun.”
“I thoroughly recommend it. We had brilliant fun and it easily fitted two adults, two kids and lots of floaty toys. Yes they do take hours to fill but if it needed a 100% water change, I'd start filling as soon as the kids went to school, so it was ready (or thereabouts) by the time they got home.”
“It's brilliant – the kids splash around and all I have to do is sit there and watch them.”Buy it now from Amazon
Chad Valley Sand and Water Pit, £20
Think of it as a mini beach at home. This blue apple-shaped sand and water pit from Chad Valley should be a hit with the little ones. Arguably the most versatile product here, you can fill the pits with water, sand or balls, but whatever you do, we reckon it will entertain your children. Made from polypropylene, it packs up snugly too, with one half acting as a lid. From more than 2000 reviews on Argos – a paddling pool go to for Mumsnetters – it got very close to top marks.
“We bought the Chad Valley sand and water pit. It’s essentially two moulded pools, one in which you put the sand and in the other water. It's so easy to empty as it's firm plastic. The empty water pool covers the sandpit overnight. It’s cheap too!”Buy it now from Argos
Dog paddling pool, from £28.99
We did warn you that it's not only kids who love a paddle. As any dog lovers will know, it can be difficult to keep dogs out of the water (definitely something to watch out for it you have one and are thinking of investing in one of the pools mentioned above). Fortunately, dogs now have their own paddling pools which is handy in the summer when you want to help them keep cool amid the kind of heatwaves we've experienced in recent years. The manufacturer says it's multi-purpose – ideal for bathing cats and other pets too – but you'll probably want to wait until your canine friend is out of the way.
“My dogs have a paddling pool which they like to go in on hot days.”
“We've got him a paddling pool for the garden which he likes jumping in and out of.”
“Would suggest a doggy paddling pool! Put an old towel in first to stop claws puncturing!”Buy it now from Amazon
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