Best paddling pools 2021 for kids to splash about in this summer

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  • Paddling pools are a must-have for kids, allowing you to keep them playing in the back garden while also keeping them cool in the summer months. 

    This year is a particularly great time to buy lots of outdoor toys, as kids will undoubtedly want to spend loads of time with their friends playing around outside as we’re set for a heat wave. But with so many to choose from, how do you know you’re buying the right paddling pool for your kids?

    Our paddling pools are the best pick of the bunch. We’ve separated them into four different types: cheap paddling pools, pools with slides, pools with sprinklers and 8ft paddling pools, so you can choose the one that works best for your garden. You can heat up the water in these paddling pools too and they’re safe to use with chlorine tables as well,  So you can keep your paddling pool clean after use.

    Best kids paddling pools to buy online

    These are the best paddling pools, as rated by you, to buy online in a range of sizes and shapes. Scroll down for the best cheap paddling pools, ones with slides, sprinklers and the best 8-foot paddling pools – all made with kids safety and enjoyment in mind.

    Best paddling pool overall: Chad Valley 9ft Sea Life Play Kids Paddling Pool 

    Chad Valley 9ft Sea Life Play Kids Paddling Pool 

    Credit: Argos

    Suitable for ages: 3+ years

    VIEW AT ARGOS, £40

    This paddling pool is our overall winner! It’s super budget-friendly, while also having loads of features and it’s a decent size. There’s loads of room for adults to get in as well as kids, so make sure you’ve got plenty of garden space to pop up this pool in. The slide is attached to the pool securely with tie ropes and grommets, making it safe for children who love to clamber and climb as well as swim. The unique water spray feature is a great attachment and links up to the standard garden hose as well, so no need to buy more equipment. 

    This one comes with additional inflatable toys too, which include a ring set to try and hoop onto the shark or the palm tree and plastic balls to roll down the slide. 

    Best paddling pool for a smaller budget: Chad Valley 3ft 3 Ring Round Kids Paddling Pool

    Chad Valley 3ft paddling pool as sold at Argos

    Credit: Getty

    Suitable for ages: 3+ years

    VIEW AT ARGOS, £6

    This three foot paddling pool is the perfect budget-friendly paddling pool. It’s particularly great for smaller children and toddlers as it fills up to just 108 litres, making it safe for them to splash around in with adult supervision. It’s optimised for last-minute sunny afternoons as well, since it takes just two minutes to inflate this paddling pool and only one minute to fill it up so it’s ready to go. You’re sorted for any punctures as well since this pool, unlike many of the others in the same price range, comes with its own repair kit.

    In the winter, turn this paddling pool into a indoor soft play area by filling it with lightweight plastic balls or turn it into a sand pit in the garden.

    Best multi-use paddling pool: Chad Valley 4.2ft 2 Ring Round Kids Paddling Pool 

    Chad Valley 4.2ft 2 Ring Round Kids Paddling Pool 

    Credit: Argos

    Suitable for ages: 3+ years

    VIEW AT ARGOS, £10

    Another cheap paddling pool from Argos, but this one is 1ft bigger for £4 more. If you’re looking for a paddling pool that’s slightly bigger, the extra pounds are definitely worth spending. This paddling pool holds 96 litres, so plenty of water to splash about in, and takes under 5 minutes to inflate.

    Fans of this paddling pool have commented on how it’s “very handy to set up and fantastic fun for the kids” and users comment how it can also “be used as a ball pit” really effectively.

    Best paddling pool for speedy delivery: Intex 59416NP Crystal Blue Three Ring Inflatable Paddling Pool

    Intex 59416NP Crystal Blue Three Ring Inflatable Paddling Pool

    Credit: Amazon

    Suitable for ages: 3+

    VIEW AT AMAZON, £5.99

    One of the top advantages of this Intex paddling pool is the price – just £5.70 for a paddling pool that’s approximately 3.75 foot. It’s also sold on Amazon, so it’s a great choice for those surprise sunny weekends as you can pick up this pool with free Next Day delivery. This pool is made up of three rings, making it suitably durable for use throughout the season.

    “Good value for money,” says one review on Amazon. “Great size for the price. Hosepipe definitely needed to fill…or you will find yourself doing 20 plus trips to and from the kitchen sink to the pool with a bowl (which was hard work believe me!!).”

    Best paddling pool for children over 5: Carousel Easy Up Pool 5Ft

    Carousel Easy Up Pool 5Ft

    Credit: Tesco

    Suitable for ages: 3+ years

    VIEW AT TESCO, £15

    This aquarium-inspired paddling pool comes from Tesco and costs a little more at £15, but comes in at 5 foot rather than three or four. It’s incredibly easy to set up by inflating the outer ring, with an easy drainage plug so you don’t have to struggle with getting the water out when you’re ready to deflate. One of our favourite things about this cheap paddling pool is the colour! A gorgeous light blue colour with fish pictures around both the top and the sides, ideal for the sea-loving splashers in the family.

    “This is very adequate and good value as a pool for young children,” one buyer of the pool says. “The inflatable rim means it requires less effort to blow-up but maybe allows less water to be contained as it sags a little unless it is fairly full of water.”

    Also with Tesco, you can pick up this paddling pool at the same time as you’re shopping for groceries.

    Best paddling pool with slide: Chad Valley 8.5ft Activity Play Centre Paddling Pool with Slide

    Chad Valley 8.5ft Activity Play Centre Paddling Pool with Slide

    Credit: Argos

    Suitable for ages: 3+ years

    VIEW AT ARGOS, £25

    This isn’t so much a paddling pool – but a water play centre! It includes a fun slide for kids, a sprinkler and ball pit for loads of extra fun. We reckon it will be hard to get the kids out of this 8ft paddling pool at the end of the day as it’s so much fun.

    Buyers loved the look of the paddling pool the best, with one saying, “This paddling pool looks great, easy to set up, my kids absolutely love it. Very happy with the purchase. Definitely recommend”. Another pointed out Argos’ amazing delivery methods, “I ordered it the night before and it came the next day, delivery was great. My daughter loves this pool, and played in it for hours. I would advise to buy a plump as it has a few parts that need to be blown up. Would recommend. Daughter is 2 years old, and it’s perfect for her!”

    While the pump for this paddling pool isn’t included, this kit does include a puncture repair kit and it comes with a one year guarantee – so you can be sure the fun never stops.

    Best paddling pool for safety: Bestway Sunnyland Splash Play Inflatable Pool

    Bestway Sunnyland Splash Play Inflatable Pool

    Credit: John Lewis

    Suitable for ages: 2+ years

    VIEW AT JOHN LEWIS, £49.99

    This paddling pool with slide is the one to go for if you want a basic set up, but one that’s full of colour and loads of fun. Unlike the others, it doesn’t come with inflatable toys but it does have the safety ring around the edge, rainbow slide and an inflatable palm tree. The palm tree can help little ones get in and out of the pool on their own or support them as they scale up the slide, while the grommets on the slide means it’s fully adjustable but safe to use each and every time.

    Price wise, it’s more on the expensive side. But when it comes to quality, this is one of the best.

    Best paddling pool for bigger gardens: Chad Valley 9.7ft Unicorn Water Activity Centre Pool

    Credit: Argos

    Suitable for ages: 2+

    VIEW AT ARGOS, £40

    As well as a built-in soft slide, this unicorn-themed aquatic play centre has a built-in water sprayer to keep kids cool in the summer heat. It also comes with other inflatable toys and games to keep them busy in the heat, whether it’s just over the weekend or through the summer holidays. We think this paddling pool is the one to go for if you have space for something a little bigger and of course, have a child that loves unicorns. The 9.7 foot size at £40 also makes this paddling pool with slide one of the best value ones we’ve seen this year.

    The spray feature connects to a standard garden hose as well, so no need to buy other parts. Other top features include the 2-in-1 valve which makes inflation of the paddling pool and deflation so easy.

    One happy customer said about the paddling pool, “Brought this item recently so happy that I did not only do the kids love it but fun for me to join in with them :)”.

    Best paddling pool with inflatable toys: Summer Waves Inflatable Dinosaur Sprinkler Paddling Pool

    Credit: John Lewis

    Suitable for ages: 2+ years

    VIEW AT JOHN LEWIS, £20

    This paddling pool is suitable for any child over 2 years old. As well as an exciting sprinkler system in the dinosaur’s mouth, which sprays onto little ones into the pool, this paddling pool includes a ring toss game and inflatable toys.

    This kit doesn’t come with a complete puncture repair kit, but it does come with some strips of self-adhesive material to use if there are any holes made in this paddling pool. To fill up this paddling pool and get the sprinkler system running, just hook it up to your standard garden hose.

    Best paddling pool accessory: Summer Waves Rainbow Arch Sprinkler

    Summer Waves Rainbow Arch Sprinkler

    Credit: Tesco

    Suitable for ages: 3+ years

    VIEW AT TESCO, £30

    While this sprinkler may not be attached to its own pool, it’s a great option for a sprinkler in the garden this summer. Coming from the top of a 6 foot rainbow, it’s full of fun and suitable for kids of all ages. The sprinklers spray water from three different angles, ensuring everyone running under this toy is properly cooled off as well.

    But when it comes to inflatables, safety is important and this toy is designed to be a hassle-free treat for both parents and children. The base is filled with water so it definitely won’t topple over on little ones and the sprinklers attach to a standard garden hose for convenience.

    Best paddling pool with sprinkler: Ancesfun Sprinkler Play Pool Pad

    Credit: Amazon

    Suitable for ages: 3+ years

    VIEW AT AMAZON, £39.99

    For the real sprinkler experience, this paddling pool is unbeatable! Set up like a classical fountain and less than £40, this is definitely one – if not the best – sprinkler paddling pool we’ve seen this year. Little ones who love mermaids will definitely love this pool, with its incredible mermaid design and unique splash pad. You can even change the direction of the water coming out of the sprinkler in the tail by wiggling the tale – cue fun for the whole family!

    About 4 toddlers can play together in this paddling pool. The supportive ring, base and sides are all made from thick and durable PVC, it comes with a sturdy water valve and has a tight connection in the material, so you can be sure this one lasts for at least a few years.

    Best paddling pool for children under 5: Summer Waves Inflatable Splash & Play Pad

    Credit: John Lewis

    Suitable for ages: 3+ years

    VIEW AT JOHN LEWIS, £15

    For something a little more low-key, go for this splash pad from John Lewis. The sprayers are built-in and will connect to any standard garden hose for the ultimate convenience. In terms of price, this is one of the best kids’ sprinkler toys we’ve seen online this year as it comes in with all the features of a paddling pool and separate sprinkler toy at only £15.

    This mat can fit two young children on it at any one time. So it’s ideal for a small family or a home with limited outdoor space!

    Best 8ft paddling pool: Chad Valley 8.5ft Family Swim Centre Paddling Pool

    Chad Valley 8 foot paddling pool as sold by Argos

    Credit: Argos

    Suitable for ages: 6+ years

    VIEW AT ARGOS, £35

    When it comes to paddling pools over 8 foot, this paddling pool by Chad Valley from Argos is the one to go for. It’s a family-sized pool with a capacity of 950 litres, making it suitable for everyone (aged six years and over) to splash around in. But despite its size, it only takes about 13 minutes to inflate this paddling pool. Then another 23 minutes to fill it up. Compared to many other paddling pools of the same size, this is a super speedy inflation time.

    This Chad Valley pool is also perfect for the little ones (under adult supervision) as the two-ring, extra wide walls make this paddling pool super durable. This means that as well as being perfect for all the kids’ activities, it’s unlikely you’ll need to buy another one next year – or the year after.

    Best party paddling pool: Intex Swim Centre Family Pool, 8ft

    Credit: Amazon

    Suitable for ages: 3+ years

    VIEW AT AMAZON, £39.69

    This is a pool for the whole family, with four handy inflatable seats for when you’re all ready to relax. There are even 2 handy drinks holders! There’s also a convenient drain plug in the floor to get rid of the water when you’re finished, too. One customer wrote in the review of this pool, “Great for a laugh in the summer with the kids. Spacious and comfy, the beer holders…..oops drinks holders are a nice touch!”

    What to look for when choosing a paddling pool

    Not all paddling pools are made equal, here’s what to look out for when buying a paddling pool…

    Is it safe?

    Children should be in the paddling pool with undistracted adult supervision at all times. According to the Royal Lifesaving Society, children can drown in as little as 2cm of water.

    However, some paddling pools come with other features that make them a lot safer than others. If the paddling pool comes with a slide attachment, rather than being in-built, make sure the kit also comes with tie ropes and grommets. The grommets attach to the bottom of the paddling pool, the small ropes are linked to them and the slide. These two pieces prevent the slide from moving around as children clamber up and down the inflatable.

    It’s also important to buy the right size paddling pool for the age of your child. While many manufacturers recommend paddling pools for those age 3 years and up, others suggest their paddling pools are only suitable for those aged 6 and over. This is often to do with the size of the pool and the height of the safety barrier. Pools made especially for toddlers will often be very shallow with a low safety barrier, so they can get out of the pool when they want to. For older children, the water in the paddling pool should not be higher than their waist at any time.

    Ensure that stand-alone paddling pool accessories are either tied securely to the pool itself or are filled at the base so they don’t topple over.

    What size should you buy?

    It’s always important to leave at least a 1 metre gap between your paddling pool and any objects. This will allow enough space for children to get in and out of the pool safely.

    Consider how much of your garden you want the pool to take up. Before buying a pool, measure the space you want your paddling pool to go in. If you have a 10ft space for a paddling pool, opt for an 8ft paddling pool rather than a 9ft to be on the safe side.

    In the winter time, you’ll have to wrap up the paddling pool and store it somewhere ready for next summer. So, it’s also important to consider how much space you have indoors to store the pool as well.

    Where will you use the paddling pool?

    As well as size, it’s also important to consider the ground that you’re putting the paddling pool on. If it’s grass, then you’re probably fine. But if you have a paved back garden or outdoor space, consider buying a paddling pool that comes with a ground mat – or buy one separately. This will prevent the paddling pool from ripping on the concrete.

    Does it come with a puncture repair kit and a pump? 

    Many paddling pools come with their own puncture repair kit. However, it may not if you’re opting for a cheaper model. Consider the price difference between a higher quality paddling pool with a puncture repair kit and a cheaper one where you have to buy one separately.

    Also, many paddling pools of all kinds don’t come with their own pump. Most of the time, you’ll have to buy one separately. Luckily, they’re a handy thing to have around – especially if you’ve got lots of inflatables in the garden this summer.

    Keeping paddling pool water clean: how do I keep the pool clean?

    So how can you keep your paddling pool water clean? One easy way to do so is to buy a paddling pool with a filter. We’ve included a few great options below. This can rid your pool of debris and keep water circulation going, to avoid any scummy build-up.

    Another simple way to keep the water clean is to buy both a pool cover and a pool-scooping net. Pop a cover on the pool when you’re not using it. Overnight, to prevent you from waking up the next day to flies, bugs, leaves and all sorts in the pool. This affordable option from Amazon, for a rectangle pool, is ideal. Or, you could use your own tarpaulin to create a cover yourself.

    There are plenty of scooping nets available for pools too. These allow you to regularly maintain their cleanliness throughout the day. This handheld £3.58 option is a great choice, or this £14 one from Amazon.

    So why not invest in a pool, given that it’s something that the whole family can get involved with? While kids might love outdoor toys and grown-ups might prefer to fill the space with nature, a paddling pool is a great mix of both and allows for hours of fun for the whole family with very little clean-up required.

    Although, we also find that even the biggest kids (read: grown-ups) enjoy making a wave on a particularly hot afternoon.