Kiddie Pool Buying Guide

Babies and toddlers love splashing around in a kiddie pool. Even older kids have fun with them! So how do you make sure you get the right one?

Buying a kiddie pool isn’t usually a big investment but you don’t want your money to go to waste with a pool that breaks before summer is over or just doesn’t work for your space.

Pricing for a kiddie pool varies greatly. This 10-gallon crab-shaped baby pool costs only $6.35 at Wal-Mart while this 264-gallon, 22″ deep inflatable “family pool” goes for $75.95. You can also buy kiddie pools at stores like Ace Hardware, Toys “R” Us or even a local mom-to-mom sale.

Lou Manfredini, Ace Hardware’s “Home Expert” and an Ace store owner in Chicago, recently took the time to answer some of our questions about kiddie pools to help parents in their search for the right one.

Many drownings occur each year in kiddie pools, so the most important advice of all is to never leave children unattended in or near a pool, he says.

Here are some other things you should consider:

1. Inflatable vs. hard-sided

Most kiddie pools are either soft and inflatable or made of a harder plastic. “There are all different shapes and sizes, although most are made of some type of plastic,” Manfredini says.

Inflatable pools are the most compact and transportable, he says, which makes them easy to take to a friend’s house or grandma’s house. They also have more playful designs. “Unfortunately, this type of pool can pop and, for the most part, you may get two years of use out of them before there is an air leak issue,” Manfredini says. “While they can be repaired, most people just toss the old and buy new.”

Hard-sided pools are very durable and easy to keep clean, he says, and can last five or more years if taken care of properly. “In fact, your children will likely outgrow their hard-sided pool before it leaks or breaks,” he says.

2. Filters and covers

“For small shallow pools, the only accessories you may want are toys for your kids to play with,” Manfredini says. “For the larger pools, you may want a filter to keep the water clean and, if you plan to keep the pool filled with water for long periods of time, then I’d recommend some pool chemicals, a cover and a skimming screen.”

3. Plan ahead

Some kiddie pools are quite large, so be sure to figure out how you’ll be taking it home from the store before you buy it, Manfredini recommends. Also think about where you will place the pool in your yard and make sure it’s not too big to move around the yard occasionally to prevent the grass underneath from dying.

4. Consider storage

Pools should be drained and dried before deflating and storing them indoors, Manfredini says. Avoid storing inflatable pools in freezing temperatures during the winter. “The chance for ice to form and tear the plastic on the inflatable pools is a real possibility, but the hard surface pools will likely remain undamaged in cold spaces,” he says.

5. Think of next year

A smaller, more shallow pool is best for the youngest little swimmers, but also consider what your kids might want to play with next summer. “Remember that children grow, so the pool you buy today may not be the pool they play in next year,” he says.

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