10 best paddling pools

Help the kids make a splash in the garden this summer

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The Independent Online

Summer is officially, if not obediently, upon us, which means at some point it’ll definitely be paddling pool weather. But which one should you invest in for the coming months? Here are ten of the best out there, ranging from small overgrown “saucers” for really little ones, to bigger pools for the whole family, to contraptions with accoutrements galore that have been designed to provide hours of play for toddlers: 

1. Chad Valley Family Swim Centre Rectangular 950 Litre Pool: £22.49, Argos


A huge paddling pool by all accounts - almost three metres long with extra thick walls, and full to capacity, it’ll take 25 minutes to fill up (that’s 982 litres). Add around 15 minutes to inflate it, and getting this out is a pretty big commitment. Thankfully it’s worth it, because it’s big enough for the whole family.

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2. Chad Valley Ocean Snapset Pool: £13.99, Argos 


In a world of paddling pools of all shapes and sizes, this one sits in the meaty part of the curve, weighing in at around two metres across, with a water capacity of 750 litres, which equates to ten minutes filling up time. A traditional circular pool, it comes with a jolly underwater life design, and is also easy to store which is a bonus. 

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3. Sizzlin' Cool Pirate Ship Play Pool: £39.99, Toys R Us


If the kids can’t make it to a water park this year, bring the water park to the kids instead. This comes with a slide, a “canon sprinkler” that you can easily attach to a garden hose, and there are even a couple of inflatable swords thrown in for aspiring swashbucklers. Perfect for excitable four to seven year olds.  

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4. Ocean Life Kids Paddling Pool: £8.99, Bestway


As budget options go, this is definitely worth a look. About a metre and a quarter across, the wall of the pool is made up of three inflatable rings that are strong enough to cope with 3-years-plus tots clambering in and out of it, and the bright ocean graphics are jolly enough too. Plus, best of all, you’ll get change from a tenner.

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5. Splash & Play Basketball Play Kids Pool: £41.99, Amazon


Some little ones aren’t content to just splash around, they need a little bit extra bang for their buck – a sense of healthy competition. Enter this blow-up sports arena/paddling pool, with extra wide walls and inflatable basketballs included. Perfect for ambitious toddlers.

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6. Sunshade Paddling Pool: £20, John Lewis


A terrific paddling pool for two reasons. Firstly because it has a built-in plughole that makes it really easy to empty (often the bane of your life with these things). And secondly because it comes with a sunshade that you can attach to the sides of the pool with Velcro – that’s super-handy on particularly sunny days. At around 1.5 metres in each direction it’s a decent size, suitable for toddlers aged three years and over.

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7. ELC My First Pool: £5, Mothercare


Easy to inflate and perfect for older babies, at just 12cm high and about a metre in diameter, this cute little pool will fit in even the most modest outdoor areas. Plus, the padded base means that it’s nice and comfy for little ones. A very strong option.

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8. Splash & Play Cannon Ball Pool: £49.99, Argos


Much like the pirate ship mentioned earlier this is more akin to a miniature theme park, and it’s perfect for active toddlers looking for fun and games, and it can even double up as a ball pit. Otherwise, simply fill the bottom of it with water, then watch as they run the length of the garden and slide in. Great fun, but only really for people with a decent sized family garden to house it. 

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9. Mushroom Baby Pool: £8.99, Amazon


Quick to inflate and deflate, this is another top choice for really little ones – from slightly older babies to toddlers. The padded bottom is comfy enough for tiny fidgeters and the built-in mushroom sunshade means that you don’t have to worry about continually reapplying sun cream.

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10. Lay-Z-Spa Monaco Inflatable Hot Tub: £699, Bestway


Yes, you read correctly, you can now buy enormous paddling pool hot tubs for your garden. This one inflates, heats up to around 40 degrees thanks to a digitally controlled pump that also filters the water, and makes it bubble. For adults only, it can fit up to eight people – although presumably that might be a bit of a squeeze. Not for everyone, but if you’ve always dreamed of owning a blow-up jacuzzi, your ship has just sailed in. 

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There is something for everyone out there. For a simple first pool, opt for the ELC My First Pool or Mushroom Baby Pool, or if your tots are in search of seriously watery entertainment, the Splash & Play options are excellent. But for something super-sturdy and big enough for an entire family, it has to be the Chad Valley Family Swim Centre from Argos. The best of a genuinely terrific bunch.

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