The 10 best paddling pools for children

three children playing in a paddling pool

Summer is on its way and paddling pools are an excellent ways to keep kids cool and entertained. Here are the 10 best children's paddling pools to buy this year, as recommended by parents.

While British summertime is far from predictable, an outdoor paddling pool is one of the best outdoor toys you can have in your arsenal – as parents of both toddlers and young children will attest to.

It's easier than taking them to the beach, cheaper than taking them to the swimming pool (neither of which you can currently do in lockdown anyway), and a decent one will last until they outgrow it.

Things to consider when buying a paddling pool

Paddling pools have come a long way in recent years and have now evolved into full-blown entertainment centres for children of all ages. But there are a few things to think about before you buy one.

Safety

According to child safety experts at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), young children can drown in as little as 5cm of water.

When it comes to using a paddling pool, parents must supervise children at all times, and make sure they drain and pack away the pool after use.

Your child’s age

Checking age suitability is vital when choosing a paddling pool. This will not only determine the size of the pool you end up buying (you don't want to get one that's too small for your children or which they will soon grow out of) but also general safety.

Some paddling pools are designed specifically for babies while others are suited to older children.

Paddling pool size

Paddling pools are a great way for kids to have fun at home, but you'll need to consider how much outdoor space you actually have before investing.

There are a range of paddling pools to suit all kinds of spaces, whether that's a small terrace or a sprawling garden.

Paddling pool lining

Budget-friendly paddling pools can be a great option for those not wanting to (ahem) splash out, but cheaper products often mean low-quality materials that are more likely to tear.

For babies and toddlers, this might not be a problem, but for older children likely to play boisterously in the water, you may need something a little more sturdy that won't fall apart after a handful of uses.

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 (some do!), so check you already have one before promising your children an afternoon in their brand-new pool. If you don't own a pump, they can be bought for as little as £5.

Does your pool also come with a repair kit? After all, paddling pools can puncture, so having tools to hand for a quick fix is always useful.

The best paddling pools for 2020

We've done the legwork so you don't have to, trawling the Mumsnet forums for recommendations from parents as well as bestseller lists and other expert review sites.

And the results are in. Here are the best paddling pools for toddlers and children.

1. Best value paddling pool: Chad Valley Family Swim Centre

1. Best value paddling pool: Chad Valley Family Swim Centre

This one's big enough for multiple 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 older children, the Chad Valley will make a great addition to any garden. When it comes to assembly, this one takes 13 minutes to inflate and 23 minutes to fill.

Alternatively, if you want to supervise your smaller children while they take a dip, you could consider Chad Valley's smaller 400L model instead.

Need to know

  • Age: 6+
  • Dimensions: 262 × 175 × 51cm
  • Price: £35

What parents say

“I recommend the Chad Valley Family Swim Centre Pool. At 9ft and 982 litres, it’s ideal for six- to nine-year-olds.”

Buy now from Argos

2. Best family paddling pool: Intex Family Lounge Pool

2. Best family paddling pool: Intex Family Lounge Pool

Want a paddling pool the whole family will love? Intex's Family Lounge Pool could be the ideal choice.

With four built-in seats, extra-wide walls and two drink holders, this family-sized pool is suitable for children aged three and over.

Need to know

  • Age: 3+
  • Dimensions: 229 × 229 × 66cm
  • Price: £33.93

What parents say

“I bought this one a couple of weeks ago and it's great.”

Buy now from Amazon

Related: Check out the best scooters for kids for all budgets

3. Best two-in-one paddling pool: Early Learning Centre Bouncy Palace

3. Best two-in-one paddling pool: Early Learning Centre Bouncy Palace

From the ever popular ELC comes a bouncy castle/pool combo – an excellent two-in-one option for children aged three to eight, although it's worth noting that you have to buy the pool separately for around £20.

It's great for active play and physical development (as well as tiring them out before bedtime).

Need to know

  • Age: 3-8
  • Dimensions: 180 × 173 × 170cm
  • Price: £49.99

What parents say

“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 came with a paddling pool. It's fab for my three children.”

“It's great! It's been a lifesaver this weekend and it's really good value.”

Buy now from ELC

4. Best paddling pool for three-year-olds: Trespass Belly Flop Paddling Pool

4. Best paddling pool for three-year-olds: Trespass Belly Flop Paddling Pool

The surfer turtle print makes for one cool toddler paddling pool. Made of three rings, it's quick and easy to inflate, so they can jump straight in when the sun pops out.

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 one to consider if you're looking to give younger children an introduction to paddling.

Need to know

  • Age: 3+
  • Dimensions: 20 × 30cm
  • Price: £14.99

What parents say

“I just bought a decent pool from Trespass. It has high sides so the water will stay in on a sloping garden or uneven ground. It was cheap and has been really good so far.”

Buy now from Amazon

5. Best paddling pool for quick inflation: Bestway Fast Set Pool

5. Best paddling pool for quick inflation: Bestway Fast Set Pool

Quick to inflate, the Bestway Fast Set Pool comes in a range of sizes – we’ve gone for the third of the six available – that will suit any outdoor space, big or small.

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.

And even though it’s made of extra strong PVC, which means you shouldn’t need to worry about tears, it’s also easy to put away after use.

Need to know

  • Age: Not specified
  • Dimensions: 274 × 274 × 76cm
  • Price: £42.99

What parents say

“My daughter loves it. It's 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.”

“It's brilliant – the kids splash around and all I have to do is sit there and watch them.”

Buy now from Amazon

Related: Keep the kids happy with one of the best trampolines around

6. Best versatile paddling pool: Chad Valley Sand and Water Pit

6. Best versatile paddling pool: Chad Valley Sand and Water Pit

Think of it as a mini beach at home. This blue apple-shaped sand and water pit from Chad Valley will be a hit with children aged 12 months onwards.

Arguably the most versatile paddling pool on our list, you can fill the pits with water, sand or balls. Made from polypropylene, it packs up snugly too, with one half acting as a lid.

From more than 2,000 reviews on Argos, it received close to top marks.

Need to know

  • Age: 12 months+
  • Dimensions: 23.5 × 106 × 92cm
  • Price: £20

What parents say

“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 now from Argos

7. Best metal frame paddling pool: Intex Rectangular Pool

7. Best metal frame paddling pool: Intex Rectangular Pool

Intex is popular with parents who want a larger pool to cool off in, although this manufacturer does make smaller models, including an innovative paddling pool with seats for around £50.

They cover the whole range, from blow-up paddling pools through to collapsible structures, to large pools like the one featured, which 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 a mosaic tile print inside the grey liner.

Need to know

  • Age: Not specified
  • Dimensions: 300 × 300 × 75cm
  • Price: £84.99

What parents say

“We've got one of those big Intex ones. We leave it up year-round and 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 lifesaver when the heat topped 40 degrees.”

“We have an Intex rigid-sided pool and our kids are go in it as often as they possibly can!”

Buy now from Amazon

8. Best baby paddling pool: JoJo Maman Bébé Pop-Up Paddling Pool

8. Best baby paddling pool: JoJo Maman Bébé Pop-Up Paddling Pool

Suitable from nine months, this pop-up paddling pool from JoJo Maman Bébé is ideal for babies and toddlers.

It can be assembled instantly (music to any parent's ears), and is made from a durable fabric with UPF 50+ protection for those particularly hot days.

For storage and when not in use, it can be folded down into a handy 4cm carry bag.

Need to know

  • Age: From 9 months
  • Dimensions: 96.5cm in diameter
  • Price: £35

What parents say

“Mine loved paddling pools from six months. But all children need to be closely supervised around water, and always make sure you empty the pool immediately after use.”

Buy now from JoJo Maman Bébé

Related: See our selection of the best garden furniture

9. Best 10ft paddling pool: ASDA Kid Connection Inflatable Family Pool

9. Best 10ft paddling pool: ASDA Kid Connection Inflatable Family Pool

Here’s another one for the whole family. At even better value than the Chad Valley and Intex, it could be an excellent choice 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 Mumsnet users, and this comfortable, spacious and durable model comes equipped with a double-valve system that makes it both easy to inflate and deflate. And as you can see from the comments below, it has adult purposes too.

Need to know

  • Age: 6+
  • Dimensions: 56 × 305 × 183cm
  • Price: £25

What parents say

“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 now from ASDA

10. Best activity paddling pool: Chad Valley 8.5ft Activity Play Centre

10. Best activity paddling pool: Chad Valley 8.5ft Activity Play Centre

This activity paddling pool has garnered excellent reviews from experts and parents alike.

An inflatable play centre featuring a sprinkler, slide and ball pit, the Chad Valley 8.5ft Activity Play Centre Paddling Pool takes just five minutes to inflate but should keep kids busy for hours.

Need to know

  • Age: 3+
  • Dimensions: 259 × 146 × 76cm
  • Price: £25

What parents say

“We have the Chad Valley one from Argos. Really pleased with it.”

Buy now from Argos

Related: The best kids' sandpits

How to empty a paddling pool

The best way to empty a paddling pool is by using a garden hose.

Submerge your hose in the water until it fills completely, leaving no air bubbles. Pinch each end of the hose so that no water seeps out.

While still pinching, take one end of the hose out of the water, carry to the appropriate drainage location, then release your fingers so that the water drains out.

How to clean a paddling pool

Once all the water has been drained out, get rid of any surplus water by wiping the pool down with a rag or towel.

Use a cleaning solution (this must be at least one part bleach and five parts water, or equal parts vinegar and water, if you're making it yourself) to clean the sides of the pool. Use a scrubbing brush or broom to make this easier.

Bacteria and algae can create slippery sections, so make sure you pay particular attention to those when cleaning.

Once cleaned, quickly rinse the paddling pool with a high-pressure hose.

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