12 of the best paddling pools

Looking for a paddling pool for your children to splash around in and cool off? Here's our pick of the best - from cheap bargains to more expensive shaded baby pools, fun play pools and plunge-everyone-in family pools

best paddling pools

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Woohoo – the sun’s finally starting to come out ?? No time like the present to whip out that children’s paddling pool and dip your feet in.

We’ve been splashing our way through the paddling pools out there to find the best for every age and budget, from single sit-in shaded ones for babies to shaped and sprinkly toddler ones to great big pools with pumps and solid sides for older kids (and the odd parent).

One word about safety before we start, though: if you do get the paddling pool out this summer, do always drain it after use (or put a secure cover on it, if it’s a bigger pool). Child safety experts, such as RoSPA, advise that small children can drown in as little as 5cm of water so, unless you have a cover, it’s always best to fill your pool fresh every day and pack it away at the end of play.

Here’s our pick of the best children’s paddling pools…

1. Chad Valley Activity Pool Play Centre, £25

Age: 3+

What it is: This 76cm x 146cm x 259cm pool can take up to 109 litres of water. And it’s also an inflatable playground, featuring a sprinkler, a slide and a ball pit. Comes with 3 balls and a repair kit. Takes 5 minutes to inflate (with a pump).

Why we love it: It’s quick to set up and you get a lot of fun for your money. Given the size of the slide, we’d say it’s more suitable for toddlers than older children. We really like the sprinkler feature: you attach a hose to the tree/flower and it starts (gently) spraying water – brilliant!

Available from: Argos

2. Summer Escapes Octagonal Family Pool, £50

Age: 6+

What it is: A 279cm x 279cm x 56cm, 1806 litre pool that has 3 double-intake air chambers. Features 2 cup holders. Comes with a repair kit. Takes about 15 minutes to inflate with an electric pump, and 20 minutes to fill.

Why we love it: It’s nice and sturdy and holds its shape well. And it’s easily big enough for 2 adults and 3 kids.

Available from: Argos

3. JoJo Paddling Pool, £35

Age: For babies who can sit independently (and are supervised)

What it is: A 96.5cm pop-up circular pool made from tough fabric with UPF 50+ protection. Features a sun-shadeand folds into a 40cm carry bag when not in use.

Why we love it: This one’s ideal for taking to the park or on holiday or to a friends’ house because it’s so quick and easy to set up. Lots of people use it as a shaded outside ball pit or toy play area, too.

Available from: JoJo Maman Bebe

4. Intex Dinoland Play Centre, £39.99

Age: 3+

What it is: A 333cm x 229cm x 112cm pool with a ‘volcano chute’, an inflatable pterodactyl, stegosaurs and and a movable diplodocus arch sprayer, which you can connect to your garden hose. Holds up to 209 litres water and has a drain plug. Comes with 6 balls, 3 hoops and a repair patch.
Why we love it: Though it takes a while to inflate (don’t even think about this without a pump!), this pool delivers really well on the water-fun front, and it’s big enough for several small ones to slide and splash around in together. Extra points for the prehistoric theme!

Available from: Smyths Toys and Amazon

5. Bestway Quick Up Pool Set & Cover, £60

Age: 6+

What it is: A 305cm x 305cm x 76cm heavy-duty PVC family pool that holds up to 3638 litres water. Comes with repair kit, drain plug, filter pump and protective cover.

Why we love it: If you’re looking to invest in a pool you’ll use time and time again, this is a great option. Its selling point for us is that it has a water filter, meaning that it won’t get gunky and you can leave it out for a few days without having to refill it.

Available from: Argos

6. Chad Valley Ocean Lagoon Pool, £22

chad valley lagoon pool

Age: 3+

What it is: A 46cm x 157cm x 262cm whale-decorated pool in pre-tested vinyl that can hold 500 litres of water. Comes with heavy-duty repair kit.

Why we love it: All the feedback we had singled out the fact that this pool is bigger than it looks – definitely plenty big enough for 2 or even 3 kids to splash about happily in. Good value for money, too.

Available from: Argos

7. Sunnylife Slip Slide Splash Rainbow, £34

Age: 3+

What it is: A 750cm x 125cm x 90cm water slide with a rainbow water cascade. Comes with a puncture repair kit.

Why we love it: Ye, it’s not technically a paddling pool but we’ve included this one because it’s such sliding, splashy fun. We particularly like the rainbow that you hook up to your hose for extra overhead sprinkler action. A winner for older kids as well as little ones, too.

Available from: Kidly and Flo and Joe

8. Intex Lazy Snail Shade Baby Pool, £15.99

Age: 12 months+

What it is: A dinky snail-shaped 145cm x 102cm x 74 cm vinyl paddling pool with a built-in shell shade. Holds over 50 litres of water. Also comes as a whale and a shark.

Why we love it: We’d say it’s perfect for under-1s (provided you’re constantly supervising them), despite the 12 months+ advisory. The built-in shade is a real plus, as it the inflatable floor (softer to sit on). It takes a while to inflate (you have to do it in sections) but the wait is worth it. Would also make a great ball pit indoors.

Available from: Amazon

9. Intex Family Pool, £34.99

Age: 3+

What it is: A 229cm x 229cm x 66 cm vinyl pool with ‘chairs’ at each of the four corners. It can hold 882 litres of water. Comes with 2 cupholders, a drain plug and repair kit.

Why we love it: It’s sturdy, easy to inflate and has plenty of room for a whole family. We like the backrests on the chairs – very comfy!

Available from: Athlete Shop and Amazon

10. Chad Valley Aquarium Activity Pool, £20

Age: 3+

What it is: A 86cm x 241cm x 260cm PVC play pool that holds 308 litres. Comes with blow-up dolphin, clown fish, octopus and stars, sprayer palm tree, a slide and a repair kit.

Why we love it: It’s a lovely, wide, shallow pool and the sprinkling palm tree works really well when hooked up to your house. Nice to see the extra inflatable animals.

Available from: Argos

11. Wilko 2 Ring Paddling Pool, £3

Age: 3+

What it is: A toddler-sized (102cm x 23cm x 102cm) 2-ring PVC pool. Comes with repair patch.

Why we love it: It’s cute and colourful and you can actually blow it up without a pump. But, above all, it’s an excellent price.

Available from: Wilko

12. Summer Waves White Pool, £150

Age: 6+

What it is: A 76cm x 305cm x 305cm rigid-sided family pool that holds over 4,000 litres water. Requires some heavy lifting and self-assembly. Filter pump and cover included.

Why we love it: You can get at least 6 people in this pool, easily. It’s easy to set up and fill (but a bit tricky to drain, as the drainage plug isn’t particularly well situated). Nice and study and, for a big pool, good value for money.

Available from: Argos

Images: product websites


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