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9 best paddling pools for kids, babies and adults to enjoy in the garden

From family paddling pools to water-spraying wonderlands, these will get your garden set for summer

Zoe Phillimore
Friday 12 May 2023 13:02 BST
Cup holders and headrests in larger pools ensure it’s not just the kids having a splashing time
Cup holders and headrests in larger pools ensure it’s not just the kids having a splashing time (iStock/The Independent)
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Unless you’re blessed with a swimming pool, a paddling pool is a must-have for summer months in the UK. Kids love water play and it helps them cool off (and wears them out), and more and more paddling pools cater for adults too.

One of the things to consider when buying a paddling pool for kids to splash about in is their depth. While you should always supervise your child in water, you might find that a shallower pool is going to be less hair raising for you. However, older kids may well want pools where they can dive under the water and really get stuck in.

There are pools with extra features, from the practical (sunshades) to the fun (sprinklers and slides) so look to invest in a pool that’s going to maintain your kids’ interest. It doesn’t have to be all bells and whistles though, as long as you have imagination and toys.

It goes without saying that paddling pools for adults will need to be large enough to accommodate longer limbs. Some will have cup holders – perfect for a cheeky drink when you’re lounging about – while inflatable headrests are also another feature that’s nice to have.

If a visually appealing pool is important to you, we’ve also several in this roundup that aren’t going to create a blot in your garden. And of course, you need to check if your pool is going to fit your garden so we’ve included dimensions on the pools too.

How we tested

While kids tested the pools, giving a thorough critique of the pros and cons of each, adults also got a say. And though our mini testers were more interested in all the extras, the depth of the pool and how fun it looked, adults were more interested in how much space they took up and how long they took to inflate and fill.

We wanted pools that were hours of fun, and would last several summers. This meant looking at their durability and of course, price came into the equation. The cost of paddling pools varies enormously, and we wanted to be sure the pool warranted its price tag. Here are the ones ahead of the wave…

The best paddling pools for 2023 are:

  • Best paddling pool overall – TP giant paddling pool: £23.05,
  • Best for smaller gardens – Kidly inflatable paddling pool: £15.50,
  • Best for large families – Bestway family fun pool: £33.99,
  • Best for babies – Little Dutch sailors bay swimming pool: £15,
  • Best for kids – Bestway Disney Little Mermaid play centre and pool: £64.44,

TP giant paddling pool

best paddling pool for kids adults
  • Best: Paddling pool overall
  • Shape: Rectangular
  • Size: 195cm x 145cm x 40cm

Adults and kids are both going to enjoy this pool. It’s deep enough to allow even the tallest of adults a decent wallow, and big enough that multiple child testers were kept entertained for hours. It’s got a huge capacity, so we advocate filling/refilling once every few days and investing in a cover for it. This will also help warm up the water a bit and be a bit more enticing for kids.

If you’re lucky enough as an adult to have full use of the pool, there’s space to stretch out and relax against the headrest. It’s speedy to inflate too, as it has two large vents for efficient air pump use. We found it pretty easy to clean down and there aren’t too many different zones to inflate and deflate.

  1. £23 from
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Kidly inflatable paddling pool

best paddling pools inflatables children toddlers cheap reviews babies
  • Best: For small gardens
  • Shape: Round
  • Dimensions: 79cm diameter

If you’ve got a budding water baby and are short on space, Kidly offers this trendy little paddling pool. It’s small enough to fit most gardens and even balconies and only took us four minutes to inflate, so it’s a quick job too. While it’s no frills – there are two circular air chambers and a bottom – it’s not going to interfere with any sophisticated garden vibes, and the pink and maroon scallop design looks great. Our younger splashers enjoyed jumping in and out of this pool, but it’s best suited to very young babies who just want a quick dip. Because of its size, it’s also easy to warm up the water a bit for little bubs. It also doesn’t require a plug as it’s so wee.

  1. £15 from
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Sunnylife shell kiddy pool

best paddling pools inflatables children toddlers cheap reviews babies
  • Best: Shaded pool for young kids
  • Shape: Oval
  • Dimensions: 120cm x 100cm x 77cm

Do you know what not enough paddling pools have? Comfortable bottoms. Slip over in one of those suckers and you know about it. But not so with this Sunnylife number. The Aussie-founded company has installed an inflatable, undulating bottom on this paddling pool, which means it’s comfy for kids to sit and splash about it. Plus, the shell-design awning is also inflatable, and provided a decent amount of shade.

While the paddling pool is small, young kids will get plenty of fun out of it. Our mini testers loved playing house under the shell. It’s not hugely deep, but the oval shape allows space for most toddlers to lie down in it if they want to. We liked the cute floral print on the outside – it didn’t create an eyesore in our garden – and although it’s quite pricy for the size, this pool feels more durable than some others we tested. Overall, we were pretty impressed.

  1. £42 from
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Bestway family fun pool

best paddling pools inflatables children toddlers cheap reviews babies
  • Best: For large families
  • Shape: Pentagon
  • Dimensions: 213cm x 206cm x 69cm

Although this paddling pool is big, it’s fast to inflate. The inflate holes are large, making for a more efficient job if you have a pump (and trust us, you’ll need one), and there are two air chambers which make it deep for kids, or perfect for lounging in for adults.

Adult testers liked the head rests and cup holders, but the best part for adults is the inflatable seats below the water line. This means you can sit in it for a decent length of time without getting a numb bum. And as there’s two of these seats/head rests/cup holders, two adults can sit and chat to each other. It sounds peaceful, and a life without kids might provide this. Our reality is that our mini testers loved having adults to splash and jump over, and very little down time happened for grown-up testers.

  1. £33 from
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Bestway sprinkler splash pad

best paddling pools inflatables children toddlers cheap reviews babies
  • Best: Splash pad
  • Shape: Round
  • Dimensions: N/a

If you’re short on space but your kids need a bit more entertainment, this splash pad is ideal. Our mini testers spent ages playing in it, and it’s small enough for most gardens and yards. It attaches to a hose and the low sides fill with water, and once full they start to spray water out in an arch. Fear not, the water then lands in the middle of the pool and creates a puddle. Great for jumping in and out of, and slipping over in.

Because it’s so shallow, we could let toddlers play in this without a total sense of panic – and they enjoyed this freedom too. Of course, we still always closely supervised. If you switch the water off, the jets slow and then stop, but the pool will hold its shape for a time meaning you don’t have to constantly have your water on. This is a summer must-have that we’ve found ourselves recommending to all our friends with kids.

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Little Dutch sailors bay swimming pool

best paddling pools inflatables children toddlers cheap reviews babies
  • Best: For babies
  • Shape: Round
  • Dimensions: 80cm diameter

Cute as a button, this nautical-themed paddling pool is going to look great in your garden and keep little kids happy. It’s small, but therefore takes a minute to inflate and not much water to fill – you can even get away with not having to invest in an air pump for this one. There’s a drain valve too, so you can get in and clean it out easily. Small kids and babies are also going to enjoy having their first splash about in this pool.

It’s not deep at all – we filled it with about 30cm of water. This meant it was easy to adjust the temperature of the pool, and it didn’t rinse our water bill either. Our mini three-year-old testers didn’t find there was enough space or fun here to hold their interest for long though. So it’s going to be a pool young kids will grow out of, but for their first few summers it will be a huge hit.

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Liewood Savannah pool

best paddling pools inflatables children toddlers cheap reviews babies
  • Best: For aesthetics
  • Shape: Round
  • Dimensions: 150 cm diameter

As parents trying to hold on to the last shred of aesthetics at home, fighting against a tidal wave of primary-coloured plastic, we were impressed with this cool-as-a-cucumber paddling pool. In a dusty mint stripe, it looked seriously inviting for adults as well as kids. And at 150cm in diameter, an adult can have a paddle. It’s not hugely deep, and we liked that as we could supervise from most angles and be able to see the whole of it.

Our testers, meanwhile, loved this larger circular design. There was space for multiple splashers to make up their own games in the pool, or to play together. And we could add plenty of toys without it quickly becoming a floating raft of plastic. One thing that would’ve been handy is a drain valve, but other than that, it’s fantastic and one that’s going to last kids through their childhood.

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Bestway Disney Little Mermaid play centre and pool

best paddling pools inflatables children toddlers cheap reviews babies
  • Best: For kids
  • Shape: Irregular
  • Dimensions: 221cm x 193cm x 117cm

Bang on trend for this summer, this Little Mermaid pool was the paddling pool that got the biggest shrieks of delight from our kids. And that’s before they even tested it. Inflating it is a bit of a mission, and you’re going to need a fair bit of space to set it out. But if that doesn’t deter you, this pool is a great investment for the summer.

Our splashers loved going down the slide under the rainbow – which also has a sprinkler inbuilt, which you attach a hose to. There’s an inflatable mat at the bottom of the slide to make landing less bumpy, a clam shell with “pearl” size balls to play with, and a ring-toss game. As parents we liked that, although this packs in fun, it’s not incredibly deep meaning we could let younger kids have a bit of freedom in it while we watched from the side lines.

  1. £49 from
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Bestway sunsational family paddling pool

best paddling pools inflatables children toddlers cheap reviews babies
  • Best: For adults
  • Shape: Irregular
  • Dimensions: 305cm x 274cm x 46cm

The design of this paddling pool is ingenious. At either end there is a nook, allowing a bit more space for adults to stretch out in the pool. And they’re facing each other, so adults can sit and chat. If that isn’t enough, there are cup holders too. While this pool isn’t tremendously deep, it’s perfect for those wanting to cool off in a heat wave. We also liked that the floor of the pool has a mosaic print, so we could kid ourselves that we were on holiday in Spain rather than a back garden in Kent. If you have kids wanting to dive in the pool with you, then there’s still space for them to frolic while you try and relax and avoid getting splashed. It is a large pool – the largest we tested, so it’s going to work best in gardens with plenty of space.

  1. £39 from
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The verdict: Paddling pools

We think the TP Toys giant paddling pool is a fantastic option. It’s mid-size, so great for younger and older kids, as well as adults. It looked nice, and is well made, plus it’s easy to inflate and deflate. We also think it’s especially good value for money.

Make the most of warmer weather with our pick of the best garden games the whole family can enjoy

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