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12 of the best paddling pools and accessories

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

Paddling Pools

When the warm weather hits, there’s nothing more fun that filling up the paddling pool so the whole family can have a splash about. There are so many great options out there now, too, from cute little toddler pools to giant inflatable activity centres with slides and fountains. We’ve been splashing our way through all 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).

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There’s always a rush to get hold of the best pools each year so here are a few key things to look out for when you’re shopping.

What to look for when choosing a paddling pool

What’s the age suitability? Most pools are labelled as being suitable for children 3 years and above, so if you’re looking for a pool for a toddler, shop carefully, and make sure you never leave your child unattended in the pool, even for a few seconds. 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.

How much water does it take? Giant pools may seem like a great idea, but if you’ve a small family, you may find that filling up a 12-person pool every day quickly gets tiring…and pushes up your water bill if you’re on a meter!

How is it inflated / constructed? Don’t get caught out with a brand new paddling pool, an excited child, and no way of inflating it. Even the tiniest of toddler pools can be exhausting to blow up manually. If your paddling pool doesn’t come with one, invest in a foot pump or rechargeable electric pump to save yourself time any energy.

How comfortable is it? Some pools, particularly the small ones designed for toddlers, have an inflatable base for padding and comfort. Others have just a thin layer of PVC, latex, or even fabric: sitting in these for long periods of time isn’t comfortable. If you want a pool you can sit in, try one with cushions or seating built into the sides.

What extras does it have? Some pools come with repair kids to patch punctures, which can be a godsend if you spring a leak during a heatwave. Others come with accessories like inflatables, floaties, balls, or fountains.

Does it provide any shade? Water reflects the sunlight’s rays, so on a bright day a child sitting in a paddling pool can get sunburn on their back, arms and shoulders very quickly. As well as making sure your child is wearing waterproof high SPF sun protection, look for a pool with a shady canopy or cover. A lot of the baby and toddler pools have these: they’re an absolute must for babies under 6 months who can’t wear sun cream at all.

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

1. Chad Valley Activity Pool Play Centre, £25

Best for playtime

Age: 3+

 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. You’ll get 3 balls and a repair kit included, and it takes 5 minutes to inflate (with a pump).

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, Amazon

2. Summer Escapes Octagonal Family Pool, £50

Best for all the family



Age: 6+

This 279cm x 279cm x 56cm, 1806 litre pool that has 3 double-intake air chambers. There are 2 cup holders and it comes with a repair kit included for any punctures. It takes about 15 minutes to inflate with an electric pump, and 20 minutes to fill.

We love that it’s nice and sturdy and holds its shape well. It’s a classic design, and easily big enough for 2 adults and 3 kids, making it a good option for many families. You won’t want to get out!

Available from: Argos, Amazon

3. JoJo Maman Bebe Pop-up Paddling Pool, £35

Best pop-up pool

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

Featuring a sun-shade, this pop-up circular pool is just under 1 metre wide, and made from tough fabric with UPF 50+ protection. It folds down into a 40cm carry bag when not in use.

It’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. Just pop it up and pop in the hose. 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

Best for water fun



Age: 3+

With a ‘volcano chute’, an inflatable pterodactyl, stegosaurs and and a movable diplodocus arch sprayer (which you can connect to your garden hose) this generous activity centre holds up to 209 litres water. It’s 333cm x 229cm x 112cm, with a draining plug. It also comes with 6 balls, 3 hoops and a repair patch.
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: Amazon

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

Best for longevity

Age: 6+

At over 3 metres wide, this heavy-duty PVC family pool holds over 3,500 litres water. It comes with repair kit, drain plug, filter pump and protective cover.

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. Just remember to cover it or keep littles ones well away from it if you do leave it up.

Available from: Argos, Amazon

6. NextX Splash Pad Water Play Pad, £29

Best for splashing about

Water splash pad

This 172cm x 172cm PVC wading pool has built-in sprinklers, you simply attach your garden hose to the gasket and connector on the side to create a water feature with three heights that kids (and adults) can splash about in.

Offering a slightly different experience to a traditional paddling pool, this is great for active or slightly older kids who like adventurous play. Choose from the purple outer space design, or a blue marine-themed version.

Available from: Amazon

7. Sunnylife Slip Slide Splash Rainbow, £34

Best slip-n-slide

Age: 3+

At 7.5 metres long, this water slide with a rainbow water cascade will definitely keep little ones entertained. It comes with a puncture repair kit so the fun doesn’t have to stop if it springs a leak.

Although not technically a paddling pool, 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, Amazon and Flo and Joe

8. Intex Royal Castle Baby Pool, £20.99

Best toddler pool

Intex Royal Castle baby pool

Age: 12 months+

What it is: A dinky 120cm x 120cm cm vinyl paddling pool with a built-in castle shade. Designed as a first pool, it comes with a little inflatable flower accessory.

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. It would also make a great indoor ball pit.

Available from: Amazon

9. Intex Family Pool, £34.99

Best pool with seats

Age: 3+

At 229cm x 229cm x 66 cm, this generous vinyl pool has room for ‘chairs’ at each of the four corners. It can hold 882 litres of water, and comes with 2 cupholders, a drain plug and repair kit.

It’s sturdy, easy to inflate and has plenty of room for a whole family. We like the backrests on the chairs – very comfy! – and can imagine chilling out with a cold drink while the kids splash about.

Available from: Athlete Shop and Amazon

10. Chad Valley Aquarium Activity Pool, £30

Best value activity pool

Age: 3+

This medium-sized play pool (almost 3 metres on its longest side) holds 308 litres. It comes with blow-up dolphin, clown fish, octopus and stars, sprayer palm tree, a slide and a repair kit.

It’s a lovely, wide, shallow pool and the sprinkling palm tree works really well when hooked up to your hose. It’s also nice to see the extra inflatable animals to add to playtime.

Available from: Argos

11. Bestway Splash and Play 3 Ring Pool, £7.45

Best for preschoolers

Bestway 3-ring paddling pool

Age: 3+

This toddler-sized 3-ring PVC pool holds over 160 litres of water, and comes with repair kit.

It’s a cute and colourful classic that you can actually blow it up without a pump. It’s quick to fill and big enough for two. Above all, it’s an excellent price.

Available from: Amazon

12. Summer Waves White Pool, £150

Best for big families

Age: 6+

This rigid-sided family pool is over 3 metres square and holds over 4,000 litres water. It requires some heavy lifting and self-assembly, but the results will be worth it. A filter pump and cover are included.

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. It’s nice and study and, for a big pool, good value for money.

Available from: Argos

Here’s our pick of the best padding pool accessories…

1. Buzz Lightyear Water Blaster Backpack, £10

Best for little ones

Age: 3+

Great for Toy Story fans, this inventive Buzz Lightyear toy helps kids feel like a real space invader while cooling off in the heat. Customers who bought this pistol set in the past seemed pleased overall, as the toy scored 4 out of 5 stars from over 100 reviews. It’s a kids water pistol connected to a space backpack filled with water, so they can keep their blaster fuelled for longer in the sun.

While a couple of parents noted that it didn’t feel like the most hardwearing toy, it seemed good value for the low price. The main comments were that little ones really loved playing with their toy and that it was a lot of fun in the garden.

Available from: Amazon

2. Water Wheel, £12.99

Best water wheel

Age: 18 months +

There are lots of differently moving parts in this multi-level water wheel toy including a truck and small owl-shaped cup. It should keep young kids engaged and enjoying their time in the paddling pool. It could also be a great addition to a sandpit it you happened to also have one at home.

Previous buyers were impressed with the size and quality of the toy, with one adding, “my little one has had this toy that she has used both in the bath and sand a good 3-5 times a week for the last 2 years. It very hard wearing and still looks brand new.”

Available from: Smyths Toys, Amazon

3. TP Toys Blue 77 Aqua Slide, £29.99

Best water slide

TP Toys Blue 77 Aqua Slide

Age: 3+

Who doesn’t love a water slide on a hot day? Connect this to a paddling pool or slip it under the base of a regular garden slide to extend the fun further down the garden. It offers 6 metres of heavy duty silicone, and comes with lawn anchors and a hose attachment.

We love the sprinklers that run down the side, making sure it always stays wet and slippy. The kids will have to watch out, because parents are going to love this one too!

Available from: Amazon, TP Toys

4. Faburo 1000 Multicoloured Water Balloons, £12.99

Best water balloons

Age: 6+

Simple fun for the garden and a great activity to get kids up and running around on paddling pool days, this bumper pack of water balloons is a must-have to fill up and throw about with the family.

One parent said that the balloons, “kept my kids amused for countless hours, and there’s loads left.” Other buyers were also impressed with the quantity of balloons included in the pack, adding they were, “great fun for the kids. Good value for money [and] lots of bright colours.”

Available from: Amazon

5. Chad Valley Slide and Splash Inflatable Bowling, £45

Best outdoor water game

Age: 5+

This is an imaginative take on a standard bowling game and great fun for kids to throw themselves at. Customers who bought this previously were generally impressed with the scale of the product and with how much fun it provided for those who played.

One parent said, “this was so much fun, easy to set up and the pins were a lot bigger than I had expected and the ‘lane’ a lot longer, so my 9 year old son also loved it!” Another reviewer, who had bought the bowling lane as a gift for her niece, added, “it was so slippy and hilarious to watch everyone slipping over, even I had to have a go!”

Available from: Argos, Amazon

6. Water Gun Twin Pack, £12.99

Best water guns

Water gun twin pack

Age: 6+

Great value for two water guns and ideal for snapping up if you’ve got multiple kids who will want to have a go at battling each other, these water pistols are made from non-toxic plastic, and are capable of shooting water up to 10 metres.

Reviewers were impressed with the power of the pistols and the quantity of water they can hold (up to 700ml per filling), but also how solid they are given the bargain price. One parent said they were, “My 14 year old son and his friend have given these some tough treatment and they’re certainly robust enough!”

Available from: Amazon

7. Summer Waves Whale Ride-On Inflatable, £7.99

Best inflatable

Age: 3+

A fun addition for any water-based fun, this inflatable pool toy is strong enough for kids to climb on top of and have a go at riding themselves.

The whale inflates to an impressive 42cm tall so it will feel almost like the real thing to little ones. Best for bigger paddling pools, kids can clamber on and off their new friend and it can be deflated again for popping in your suitcase for future holidays abroad.

Available from: John Lewis

8. Electric Air Pump, £12.99

Best air pump

Age: adults

If you’re buying a large inflatable pool, invest in a rechargeable, automatic pump which can both inflate and deflate. This one also comes with various attachments to suit inflatables of different styles and sizes.

It’s ideal for saving mum and dads’ tired lungs a job inflating all those garden toys. As you can recharge it, there’s no wires in the way which makes it handy for outdoor use. The pump also has a reversible function which allows it to quickly deflate things completely, so they’re nice and flat for storing away again once you’re done.

Available from: Amazon

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