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Best pool toys for fun in the sun this summer

Brilliant for staycations or abroad, help your kids stay cool while having fun this summer, with our pick of the best pool toys, as recommended by Mumsnetters.

By Lucy Cotterill | Last updated Aug 18, 2023

best pool toys uk

During hot weather like the heatwave currently baking the UK, our minds turn to swimming pools. And if you're heading off on holiday with your family this year, chances are a child-friendly swimming pool will be high up on your list of priorities. Not only does a pool help cool your kids down on the hottest of days, but it’s a great source of entertainment too, allowing kids to jump in, splash and play with pool toys and games in the water.

If you're shopping for summer toys, we've got you covered. Based on tried-and-tested recommendations from the Mumsnet forums, our guides to the best paddling pools, the best trampolines and the best hammocks are based on authentic reviews from real parents.

For the youngest of swimmers, pool noodles and floating toys are a great place to start, encouraging them to reach out and get moving in the water, If your child is already swimming independently, diving toys can be a great way to improve their confidence, popping on their goggles before diving down and scooping them up from the bottom of the pool. Alternatively, if you’re after something the whole family can enjoy, there are a huge number of active pool games such as throwing toys, balls and squirters that provide a shared experience and some inter-family competition.

Whichever pool toy you choose, it’s crucial to keep your children safe in the water. The pool toys we recommend require full parental supervision at all times. It’s also important to ensure pool toys are appropriate for your child’s age and swimming level.

Whether your kids want to dive down, jump in or simply have fun in the sun, here are the best pool toys you can buy in 2023.

Best pool toys - at a glance:

1. Best overall pool toy: Swimways ToyPedo Bandits

Swimways ToyPedo Bandits

RRP: £6.95 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs:

Age suitability: 5 years+ | Material: Synthetic | Size: ‎20.32 x 3.17 x 17.78 cm

What we like:

  • Brightly coloured, engaging design

  • Choice of play methods

  • Helps improve children’s confidence underwater

  • Glides up to six metres from each throw

What we don’t like:

  • Throwing underwater can take some practice

What Mumsnet users say:

“A great thing we have is a ToyPedo. It's like a rocket that you can 'throw' to each other under the water. Great fun.”  (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user neerg)

“Someone beat me to my suggestion; ToyPedos. Brilliant fun underwater for kids, teens and adults.” (Recommended by Mumsnet user Trumpodious)

Our verdict

When asked for suggestions on the best pool toys for kids, ToyPedos were a product mentioned by Mumsnet users time and time again. Recommended for children aged five and above, these brightly coloured hydrodynamic rockets glide through the water with ease, just like a real fish, reaching distances of up to six metres from each throw.

The set comes with four ToyPedos and offers a choice of playing options. Younger children will love playing catch under the water, simply propelling the rocket towards their opponent. Alternatively, for those more confident swimming underwater, you can encourage them to dive down and retrieve ToyPedos when they reach the bottom of the pool. With each fish having a unique number of points, they make a fun scoring game to play in the pool and compete with friends.

2. Best budget pool toy: Intex Beach Ball

Intex Beach Ball

RRP: £2.99 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs:

Age suitability: 3 years+ | Material: Vinyl | Size: 16.51 x 1.59 x 29.84 cm

What we like:

  • Easy to inflate and deflate as required

  • Easy to store / transport

  • Suitable for the whole family

What we don’t like:

  • On windy days this lightweight ball can easily float/blow away

What Mumsnet users say:

“Giant inflatables (preferably two to race) and an inflatable beach ball”  (Recommended by Mumsnet user Stompythedinosaur)

Our verdict

Whilst it can be tempting to buy a wide selection of pool toys in preparation for your family holiday, the cost can soon add up. If you’re looking for a pool toy on a budget, these inflatable beach balls make a really affordable choice, creating a fun throw-and-catch ball or even a volleyball game for family members to enjoy together in the pool.

These brightly coloured beach balls can be inflated and ready to play in minutes, before compressing back down to pack away when heading back to your accommodation, making a portable choice for those limited on space.

Related: The best beach tents, as recommended by Mumsnetters

3. Best pool toy for toddlers: Nuby Watering Can

Nuby Watering Can

RRP: £6 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs:

Age suitability: 6 months+ | Material: Plastic | Size: 15.5 x 13.5 x 9.5 cm

What we like:

  • Small size gripped handle ideal for small hands

  • Helps develop hand-to-eye coordination

  • Also suitable for use in the garden, bath and beach

What we don’t like:

  • Some reviewers found this toy challenging to keep clean due to its very small holes

What Mumsnet users say:

“ Bath toys are also fun, anything that floats or cups or mini watering can etc. Just one or two or you'll be fending off all the other toddlers!”  (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user EnidFrighten)

“We swim every week. We go to a designated parent and toddler swim so they have toys like balls and watering cans.” (Recommended by Mumsnet user avocadoincident)

Our verdict

For babies and toddlers, pool toys that encourage movement and improve their confidence in the water are a popular choice. Suitable for children aged six months and above, this brightly coloured watering can is simple for small hands to fill and carry thanks to its easy grip handle and compact size.

Great for developing hand-to-eye coordination, your children will love tipping the spout and watching as the water sprinkles out.

Related: The very best beach toys, as loved buy Mumsnetters and their kids

4. Best pool dive toys: Speedo Spinning Dive Toy

Speedo Spinning Dive Toy

RRP: £17.99 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs:

Age suitability: Plastic | Material: Synthetic | Size: ‎6.2 x 18.6 x 20.2 cm

What we like:

  • Brand trusted by parents

  • Slowly spin as they sink to the bottom of the pool

  • Helps improve children’s confidence in the water

  • Come in a handy mesh storage bag

What we don’t like:

  • Costly

What Mumsnet users say:

“I’d recommend dive sticks. We have a set that look like sharks and they have been played with for hours on end!”  (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user LockingJay)

“Diving toys are good, the sticks that sink but stay upright so can be grabbed easily” (Recommended by Mumsnet user FluffyPJs)

“We have a pack of those 'sharks' which they like to dive down to retrieve from the bottom of the pool.” (Tried and tested by Mumnsnet user CherryPlum)

Our verdict

If your children are capable swimmers above water, diving toys are a great progression to help perfect their technique and improve their confidence beneath the surface.

Children will love racing down to collect these Speedo shark design dive sticks, tracking them as they spin slowly and sink to the bottom of the pool. Measuring 18cm high, they’re easy to spot and retrieve thanks to their brightly coloured designs.

Whilst they don’t come cheap, the Speedo are a trusted brand who have manufactured these Spinning Dive Toys to the most rigorous of UK and Australian safety standards. They also come in a portable mesh storage bag - a convenient and practical choice for a fun-filled day by the pool.

Read next: The best family hotels with a swimming pool in the UK

5. Best inflatable pool toy: Inflatable Water Wheel

Inflatable Water Wheel

RRP: £29.99 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs:

Age suitability: Unspecified, but strong swimmers only | Material: Polyvinyl Chloride | Size: 49.2 in x 33 in

What we like:

  • High energy fun

  • Amusing for spectators

  • Repair patch included

What we don’t like:

  • Some reviewers found it punctured easily

  • Takes time to inflate (pump recommended)

What Mumsnet users say:

“It was huge, but this was the best thing we ever had. Warning - needs a big pool - we had access to a 30m pool that was often empty.”  (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user PeonyTime)

Our verdict

If you’re staying at a villa or holiday resort where you’re lucky enough to have a pool to yourselves, this Inflatable Water Wheel offers some high-energy fun that is pretty much guaranteed to have the entire family laughing for hours.

Similar to a giant inflatable hamster ball, climb inside this rainbow-coloured water wheel, get on your hands and knees and challenge yourself to crawl as fast as you can, propelling the ball across the water whilst you try your hardest not to fall in!

Whilst loads of fun for confident swimmers, due to its substantial size and difficulty, it’s less suited to everyday swimming. The high price tag may be off putting for some.

6. Best pool ball: Waboba Surf Water Bouncing Ball

Waboba Surf Water Bouncing Ball

RRP: £7.99 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs:

Age suitability: 3 years+ | Material: TPR, Lycra and SBR | Size: 5.5 x 5.5 x 5.5 cm

What we like:

  • Bounces on the water for a unique game of throw and catch

  • Lightweight and portable

  • Floats on the surface

What we don’t like:

  • Potential to be easily lost

What Mumsnet users say:

“Waboba do neoprene-covered little balls that bounce and float”  (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user Moreismore)

Our verdict

A traditional game of throw and catch can be twice as much fun in the water. If you fancy mixing things up a little, this brightly coloured neoprene ball actually bounces on the surface, making a fun pool toy for skimming, throwing games or even competitions to see who can bounce it the highest.

Soft and squishy with an intelligent gel core, the Waboba Surf Ball is a great addition to any trip to the pool, lake or beach and is small enough to pop straight into your pocket.

Related: The best water tables for summer 2023

7. Best inflatable pool game: Bestway 52133 Water Volleyball Swimming Set

Bestway 52133 Water Volleyball Swimming Set

RRP: £15.95 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs:

Age suitability: 3 years+ | Material: Nylon | Size: 2.44 m x 64 cm

What we like:

  • The set comes with everything needed to play including an inflatable stand, net and ball

  • Quick and easy to set up

What we don’t like:

  • Better suited to private pools due to the space required to play

What Mumsnet users say:

We have a pool and the floating volleyball net is good”  (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user blue421)

“Inflatable goals or volleyball net.” (Recommended by Mumsnet user piefacedClique)

Our verdict

Another active choice for the pool that the whole family can play together is this inflatable volleyball set from trusted inflatables brand Bestway. Easy to set up and secure; simply inflate the stand, secure the net and add to the water, before splitting into two teams and launching the ball over to your opponents!

Due to its size, it’s better suited for private pools. On a windy day. It’s also worth bearing in mind it floats on the water so may move around quite easily.

8. Best pool noodle: Swimming Water Woggle Noodle

Swimming Water Woggle Noodle

RRP: £8.49 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs:

Age suitability: 1 years+ | Material: Foam | Size: ‎148 x 7.5 x 6 cm

 What we like:

  • Flexible pool float for younger children

  • Provides buoyancy for pool games

What we don’t like:

  • Colours selected at random

What Mumsnet users say:

“Pool noodles are great!! They can help if someone is learning to swim, they are good fun, no need to inflate and quite portable”  (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user grey12)

Our verdict

Available in a variety of bright, engaging colours, pool noodles are a versatile and practical buoyancy aid for young children or less confident swimmers. Used under the arms, these flexible foam cylinders bend into a variety of shapes to help your child float, allowing them to practice their kicking technique and propel their arms through the water whilst their core is fully supported.

If your children have a noodle each, these pool toys are also great for races too, bending into a u shape before jumping on and seeing who can reach the other side of the pool the fastest.

Read next: The best hot tubs for your garden, as recommended by Mumsnetters

9. Best pool toy for 5 year olds: Ucradle 6Pcs Foam Gun Water Blaster

Ucradle 6Pcs Foam Gun Water Blaster

RRP: £15.99 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs:

Age suitability: 5 years+ | Material: Foam | Size: ‎36.5 x 32.4 x 5.2 cm

What we like:

  • Pack of six so that the entire family can play together

  • ABS plastic and foam construction that's soft and safe for small hands

  • Long-range spray of 7-8 metres

What we don’t like:

  • Some reviewers found they broke easily

What Mumsnet users say:

We've got water guns that are made out of pool noodles. They are fun.”  (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user ScootsMcHoy)

“We live in the US and have our own pool. The things most popular with our own children and with visiting U.K. tweens and teens are big pool floats to jump on.pool balls which bounce on water, hoops for throwing/diving into the water for and pool shooters (not gun-shaped, more like sticks you pump)” (Recommended by Mumsnet user Copperbonnet)

Our verdict

Made from soft pool noodle foam and easy for even young children to operate, this pack of six brightly coloured water blasters can help create the ultimate water fight in the pool between friends and family. Simply submerge in the water to fill the water blaster, before pulling back the handle and pushing forward to release in a swift pump-like motion, creating a water spray that travels up to six metres.

Whilst some reviewers found they can break quite easily, the vast majority were really impressed by the range of the spray, even using the blasters in their paddling pools for a water fight in the garden at home.

10. Best pool toy for 10 year olds: NABAJI Aquaway

NABAJI Aquaway

RRP: £19.99 | Buy now from Decathlon

Key specs: Age suitability: 6 years+ | Material: polypropylene | Size: 150 cm length

What we like:

  • Ideal for confident swimmers

  • Varied difficulty

  • Lightweight and portable

What we don’t like:

  • Can be challenging for those new to swimming underwater

What Mumsnet users say:

Decathlon have some cool underwater hoop things and floor grippers”  (Suggested by Mumsnet user JurassicAdventure)

Our verdict

If your child is forever performing tricks and handstands in the pool, they’ll love the challenge of the NABAJI Aquaway. These lightweight pool toys can be thrown into the pool, where they sink to the bottom to form an arch. The challenge? Dive down and swim through the middle of the archway.

A fun way to improve your child’s confidence whilst holding their breath, diving down under the water and achieving the ultimate goal of passing under the two arches in the set.

Related: The best sunscreens for babies and children this summer

What to consider when shopping for pool toys

With so many pool toys to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start, here are some things to consider when selecting the right pool toy for you and your family:

  • Age appropriateness - What age is the pool toy suitable for? Pool toys will vary depending on both your child’s age and their swimming ability. If your child has only recently learnt to swim without buoyancy aids, you should stick to pool toys that can be played above the water. On the other hand, if your child is already a confident swimmer, diving toys and toys that encourage your child to head underwater offer a fun experience and challenge.

  • Portability - How big is the toy? Is it lightweight and easy to carry to and from the pool? Does it fold flat? How much space will it take up in your swimming bag?

  • Safety - Is the beach toy made from non toxic BPA plastic? Are there any sharp edges? You should also consider any safety rules of the pools you are visiting, as some venues have strict policies on the pool toys they will allow to be used in a shared pool.

  • Durability - How durable and hard wearing is the pool toy? With pool toys likely to experience some regular use, will they stand the test of time?

  • Shared experiences - Is the pool toy suitable for the whole family to play together? Toys and games that can be played with a parent and child can make a fun bonding experience in the pool.

  • Cost - How much are you willing to spend? Some pool toys are really affordable, whilst you may need to pay a little more to get branded toys or toys that are more closely aligned with the swimming curriculum. Consider how long your child will play with it compared to the price and whether the toy can be shared with siblings or other family members.

What’s the best pool toy to buy?

It’s fair to say there are some great pool toys on the market, but the ToyPedo Bandits take our top spot for the best pool toy you can buy today. A fun and affordable pool toy that can be played with by the whole family, they’re a great way to improve your child’s confidence, learn to hold their breath, dive underwater and take on the challenge of scooping them up from the bottom of the pool.

How we chose our recommendations

Recommendations from real Mumsnet users

Mumsnet users have a wealth of experience when it comes to spending time at the pool, whether that be family holidays, family fun at their local leisure centres or Saturday morning swim lessons with the kids.

First, we sought out the trusted opinions of Mumsnet users, to get their feedback on the pool toys that had proved to be a hit with their children and that they would recommend to others. We sought out pool toys that Mumsnet users found to be engaging, challenging and improved their child’s confidence in the water.

We also looked out for any negative reviews, where Mumsetters highlighted products that they felt were poor quality, overpriced or simply failed to bring the fun factor.

Expert opinions

Next up, we considered reviews and feedback from trusted industry experts. We want to be confident that the products we recommend are fit for purpose, so we looked out for award-winning products or those that were well regarded in the marketplace.

Authentic consumer reviews

Finally, to bring you our definitive list of the best pool toys on the market, we thoroughly investigated genuine, in-depth customer reviews on retailer sites such as Amazon, Argos and John Lewis to get wider consumer experiences regarding the products on our shortlist.

Why you should trust us

We work hard to provide honest and independent advice you can trust and we spend hours scouring the Mumsnet forums and online bestseller lists to find products that real parents rate.

Transparency is really important to us and that's why we're always upfront about where we find our recommendations. We write about products that we feel offer the best value to most parents – the ones that our users would recommend to their own friends and family.

About the author

Lucy Cotterill is a mum of two and Content Writer at Mumsnet, specialising in baby/child and lifestyle product reviews and round-ups. Having written product reviews on her own blog Real Mum Reviews since 2012, Lucy loves to research and explore the pros and cons of baby products, scrutinising reviews and consumer feedback to help parents make confident purchases that benefit their families.

Originally from a HR background with a degree in Business Studies, Lucy developed a real passion for blogging and writing when her children were young, going on to write for several online publications including US parenting site Pregistry and the Evening Standard. When she’s not manically tapping the keys of her laptop, Lucy loves nothing more than to cosy up with her Kindle and enjoy the latest thriller, or compete in Nintendo Switch rallies with her daughters aged six and 10.