If you splashed in an inflatable swimming pool when you were a kid; then you know summer fun. These collapsible pools are blown up with air-either from a pair of very strong lungs, or a handy foot or electric pump. They also generally have a filter pump, chemicals for it, and a set of patches and a repair kit in case someone accidently punctures a hole in the pool. Some pools are filled with water added to the side walls to make them strong. The pools drain from the bottom via a drain plug, which releases the water when it is pulled out. Most of these pools are filled with a garden hose.
They have been popular since the 1950s because they are portable, available in a wide range of sizes to fit any budget and can be deflated once summer is done to store easily. Made from materials such as vinyl, or PVC (polyvinylchloride) these synthetic creations can be small enough for one baby or large enough for entire family.
Basic inflatable pools come in round or rectangular shapes. The fancy ones have a variety of different extras depending on the age range of those who will use the pool. Here’s a list of 20 different kinds, some ideas for the best way to use them, and some handy maintenance tips to help keep them clean, healthy, safe, and fun.
1. Recreation Pools- Babies 6 to 18 months
These inflatables are generally the smallest size pools. They are usually no more than 12 or 13 inches high, and about 3 feet diameter. They may have just one ring for a side wall. Not designed for swimming, they hold just enough water to let baby sit, splash, and enjoy water play with pool toys. They help to keep a young baby cooler when the temperatures soar. Available in cute fish shapes or standard rounds or rectangles, some also have sunshades built overhead to protect delicate skin from the sun.
2. Splash Pools- Toddlers 18 months to 2 years old
When baby starts to take those first steps, a toddler splash pool is ideal. There are great versions which are made pool canopies overhead that provide UPF 50 protection from the sun’s rays. The canopies are usually removable or can be positioned to allow more of less light into the pool. Many come with a handy carry bag so it’s easy to deflate the pool and move it to a different location, or pack it for a day at a friend’s house. Splash pools are about 3 to 5 feet in diameter, but still have the lower side walls of recreation pools. These may have two or three rings for the side wall. The lower height allows for plenty of water for play without being too much for the newest walkers.
3. Kiddie Pools- Toddlers ages 2 years to 5 years old
When toddlers pass the two-year-old mark, they may be ready for a slightly larger pool. Buying one designed for one or two children at a time is perfect for this age, because youngsters often don’t have water skills sufficient to compete with others in the same space. It takes about 15 minutes to set up a 15-inch high inflatable pool with about 120 gallons of water. Classic three-ring pool wall design with a vinyl bottom is just enough space for playing and splashing. Toddlers can take turns in the pool with friends, and that’s fun too.
4. Family Swim Center Lounges- Children 3 years to about 6 years
With benches built right into the walls of these inflatables, parents can lounge in the pool while the littlest ones play right next to them. These are favorites of grandparents, too, who enjoy sitting in the pool and keeping an easy watch on younger grandchildren. With a water depth of 15 inches, youngsters can romp to their hearts content. The wide side walls are generally about 30 inches tall and come in a variety of shapes. Lounges are great for spending time together in the water. Most have drain plugs for easy take-down when it’s time.
5. Bigger Three-Ring Kiddie Pools-Children Ages 7 to 10
Once children reach elementary school, more inflatable pool options are available. Round and rectangular shapes with three supported rings and wide walls are fun for splashing and brief underwater dips.
6. Long Rectangular Family Pools- Children Ages 10 and up
These come in many lengths and widths. They are large volume pools with reinforced top rings and strong sides. They allow younger children to have some swimming action, but not really laps per se. But the fun of ducking underwater and playing games with pool noodles or balls makes these good choices for growing families.
7. Large Round Family Inflatables with Higher Walls
The deeper and larger round pools often with side walls filled with water and additional cells filled with air for extra durability. The extended size ranges offer more chances for swimming. These are pools which you’ll need to plan a space where they will stay up for the summer season. They are filled with large amounts of water and designed to be more like permanent pools.
8. Medium Sized Pools Designed for Compact Spaces
Perfect for yard where space is at a premium, these designs give the chance for a cooling dip in the pool without taking up as much space as their larger counterparts. They work well for single families, or children with a few guests.
9. Themed Pools for Extra Fun
Some of the best designs feature clear side walls on the pool which are decorated with color fish or nautical themes. Others have bright colors and patterns which are festive and fun. There are literally hundreds of different popular themes ranging from Disney characters to surfboards.
10. High Walls Soaking Pool
With generous high walls, these pools allow one or two adults to climb into the warm pool and simply sit and soak their troubles away. They’re not really designed for active play or swimming. But they are perfect for a long, thoughtful conversation or a meditation time alone.
11. Inflatable Ring and Basin Models
These feature a different type of construction than other inflatables. The top ring is inflated, but it also features a strong strand of material which reinforces the top ring against damage. The bottom portion of the pool is shaped like a pot, with the lower areas wide than the middle. The bottom is called a basin, and because it holds an incredible weight of water it is specially reinforced to handle the larger capacity. These will hold an entire family.
12. Largest Inflatable Family and Friends Pools
These are also ring and basin models, but they are super large and deep compared to the smaller versions. The sizes are comparable to average in-ground swimming pools, so they require extra set-up time, and long fill times using a lot of water. Once they are assembled and filled, they stay put for the entire season. They must also be contained within fencing for safety and covered or attached with a pool alarm to protect against accidents.
13. Novelty Tiny Baby Splash Pools
Some of the cutest splash pools for infants and young babies are made with very shallow area for just the right amount of splashing, but they come in adorable designs. Some are shaped like fish, others are shaped like mushrooms, and still others are shaped like watering holes for African animals. All enclose the infant on three sides and are easy to carry and use.
14. Play Place Pools for Children
Created to offer cooling play in a watery environment, these feature themed toys to go along with splashing in the water. Some are shaped like pirate ships and include swords, cannons, and the captain’s steering wheel. Others are designed with flat, shallow water surfaces which will accommodate building blocks, plastic sea creatures, and other toys for creative playtimes.
15. Sun Protective Play Pools for Toddlers
These are small splash pools the include removable shade tents with front openings. The material used for the tent features 50+ UPF protection from the sun rays. Many have lightweight material so that toddlers can take a nap inside once the water is dumped out and the fabric dries quickly. They are also great for the beach because they are easy to carry and give toddlers the chance to enjoy the water until they are mature enough to swim in the ocean.
16. Interactive Inflatable Pools
Definitely for older kids, these are outfitting with an incredible array of water toys to use in the pools. They are filled with water sprayers, floating balls to toss, and corners to climb into and out.
17. Pools with Slides
The slides attached to inflatable pools range in size to match the size of the pool. For little ones, one or two steps lead to a short slip into a shallow pool. For larger pools, the slides might be as tall as a step ladder, with a slide that slips right into the water for a big dunk of good fun.
18. Inflatable Pools with Sprinklers and Soakers
Designed with a hose attachment, these create a mist or spray of water inside the shading cover over the pool. It’s possible to enjoy a dip in the pool and have the extra cooling mist overhead on the hottest days.
19. Inflatable Combination Activity Pools
These are inflatable pools on one end, with a long slippery slide attached at the other. Kids start out running toward the slide, stretch out for a long, watery slip, and end up crashing into the deeper water at the end of the pool. It’s great fun…over and over and over again.
20. Inflatable Personal Sunning Pools for Adults
Though it may seem as if adults need an in-ground swimming pool to keep them happy, but the truth is that many buy themselves an adult-sized inflatable which just holds one person. They fill it with water, lather up with sunscreen, and just go out and sun themselves in the pool for a big long relaxing moment alone.
Once you’ve selected the right fit pool for your needs, you’ll be glad to know that the portability of inflatable pools makes them easy to move to different places in your backyard. You will need to know a bit about maintaining them and should know how to use the handy repair kit that comes with most of these pools. In addition to the usual pumping them up with air, you’ll need to get used to pulling the drain plug and draining out the water. Some owners have used buckets to bail the water out of the pool when they realized that the drain plug wasn’t in a convenient place. Others have placed a layer of soft matting underneath their pool to help cushion it against damage.
In addition to the given of always keeping an eye on children in the pool, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) is concerned that inflatable pool owners understand that small inflatable pools and slides are known to spread RWIs, or recreational water illnesses when children swallow or have contact with the water. The CDC recommends showering or bathing children with soap before they swim and keep ill children with diarrhea or vomiting away from the pool. Parents should remind children to keep pool water out of their mouths. If a pool becomes accidentally contaminated by a dirty diaper, or feces, all children should be taken out of the pool. It must be drained completely, cleaned with soap and water, and left to dry in the sun for no less than four hours.
Consumer Reports indicate that safety experts recommend putting up a fence or gate around an inflatable pool to prevent drowning accidents. While the very smallest pools can be put away daily, the larger ones are generally up the summer season. They should be surrounded by fencing, have a filter system which recirculates the water in the pool every six hours or more often, and they should be treated with pool chemicals designed to control bacteria. A pool cover and an alarm should also be used when the pool is not in use. Constantly supervising children whenever they are around or in the pool is the best way to keep the fun in summer swimming.