It’s summer, and you don’t want to lift a finger. You especially don’t want to blow up a kiddie pool. So, you look for something that needs zero set-up. Or, maybe your motivation isn’t sloth. Maybe you’ve got an overly excited kid who’s popped so many pools you’ve given up keeping count.
In any case, you’ve decided to get a pool that’s non-inflatable. But the choices don’t just end there. You’ve got different sizes and shapes, collapsible and rigid ones–the list goes on and on (kind of). Let’s talk about how to find a kiddie or wading pool you and your kids will be proud to splash around in.
How to Choose a Non-Inflatable Plastic Kiddie Pool – Buying Guide
Not all non-inflatable kiddie pools are giant buckets of water. Let’s go through all the shapes and sizes they come in, and how to choose one for you and your family.
How Much of It Is Rigid Plastic? Durability, Storage, and Convenience
Some pools are completely rigid; some pools give way a little; some can be disassembled and rolled up. They’ve all got ups and downs, so let’s go through them.
Hard Plastic: The Most Durable of Them All
When we say non-inflatable kiddie pool, this is probably what comes to mind. They’re sturdy, and you can lean against the walls and not worry about falling out of the pool. And there’s no assembly required.
That also means, though, that you can’t disassemble them and put them away the winter. And there’s really no way to let out water, other than tipping the thing over. They do sometimes come with drains, so look out for that.
And here’s a new, 21st century problem. You can’t really find anything big online–because how are you supposed to ship a huge tub? If you’re an Amazon devotee, you aren’t going to get a hard plastic kiddie pool much bigger than 3 by 3 feet.
Soft Plastic Bottom: Just Push on the Sides to Let out Water
Some pools have got rigid sides, but soft bottoms, so you can roll them up for storage. These also require no assembly, but they’re kind of a pain to fill up. The walls don’t stand up unless there’s already water in the pool, so, as you fill, they collapse inwards and spill all over the place. The trick, by the way, is to make sure you’ve spread the bottom all the way out, no wrinkles.
To let out water, all you have to do is push down on the sides. (That means, though, that you can’t casually lean on them.) The bottoms–usually vinyl–do rip; so don’t set these pools up on a bunch of rocks.
Vinyl Lining : So Many Sizes and So Easy to Store
These are made up of a vinyl lining supported by a frame, usually plastic or metal. These come in a multitude of sizes–from itty bitty four-by-fours to something the entire family can splash in, and yet can be taken apart, rolled up, and stuck in your closet.
If you do opt for something huge, see if it comes with a cover, so you a) don’t need to waste time filling it up again and again and b) save water. (Especially important for Angelinos.) And you want to set these up on lawns–because gravel and concrete will rip at the thin lining. (Or you can consider laying out tarps and yoga mats on your driveway.)
Folding Tubs: The Most Portable and Convenient
We’ll be honest; these are mainly meant for dogs. However, there’s no reasons why humans can’t enjoy folding tubs too–and they are enjoying them. The tubs are made of a series of cardboard panels, covered in vinyl. They’re light, portable, and easy to set up.
Once the lining rips, though, the pool is useless. (Since water disintegrates cardboard.) And, thanks to simple physics, the bits between the panels are prone to cracking. Also, make sure that yours comes with a drain–unless you want to bail all the water out.
Three Feet to Bathe a Baby, Five to Entertain Grade Schoolers: Size
We set the minimum diameter at two and a half feet–for one baby or toddler. You could squeeze a kid into a smaller one, but there’s really no wiggle room. (Plus, some pools will spill water if you so much as brush against the sides, so give the kid some space to maneuver.)
For grade-schoolers, get something at least four or five feet wide. Your kid’s got friends, right? A pool of this size will let them and a buddy fit in without too much pushing or shoving. Once you hit seven or eight feet, then parents can start getting in–and the pools only keep getting bigger. When in doubt, look at the pictures; there’s usually one of the pool with humans actually in it–so use that as a guide for size.
Fun Extras: Umbrella, Toys, and Apple-Shaped Pools
Most pools are round or square, but some are shaped like fruits and other fun shapes–which isn’t the most space-efficient, but they do look cool.
Some pools come with umbrella holders or hoods for some shade, or built in toys (since it’s no fun to just sit in a kiddie pool and stare at each other). If the pool’s big enough, a filter pump will come in handy, so you don’t need to waste time and money switching out the water all the time.
Top 10 Best Non-Inflatable Kiddie Pools to Buy Online
Summer’s not going to wait around forever. Let’s dive right into our picks for the top ten best non-inflatable kiddie pools available online.
10. Kids Stuff Rigid Wall Swimming Pool Baby Pool
A Cute Pool You Can Take on Family Outings
The diameter’s just a little short of four feet–one or two toddlers can splash around happily, but try to fit in anything more, and you’re going to have to start piling them up. The bottom’s soft; after you stuff it into its package, it measures just 12″ x 5″ x 5″, so you can bring it with you on family outings. When you want to let out water, you don’t need muster your inner Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson and hoist the entire thing up; just push down the sides.
That also means you can’t lean on the sides–not if you don’t want to go tumbling out. You also need to set it up on level ground; otherwise, the water comes sloshing out.
9. Starplay Junior Lagoon Pool/Sandpit
Small, but Extremely Durable
This thing’s about 2 feet and a half (length and width), so you’re only going to fit one baby in here. Since it’s square, though, it can squeeze into narrow spaces; it’s perfect for bathing an infant in a shower, or cooling down on the porch.
The plastic is thick, heavy-duty stuff and doesn’t bend easily. The only thing is there’s no drain, so you’ll have to either tip the pool over, or bail it out with cups. It’s got some seahorses, fish, and bubbles engraved on the bottom, so it’s non-slip and pretty darn cute.
8. Intex Snorkel Buddies Snapset Pool
Five Feet in Diameter and Can Be Rolled up for Storage
The pools measures five feet across, which is enough for one large dog, or two medium toddlers. But the bottom’s like vinyl, so you can roll it up and stuff it in a box during winter. (It’s not easy, though, so when you take it out of the box, pay attention to how it’s been folded.) As with all pools with soft bottoms, you can let out the water just by pushing on the sides.
If you lay it out on a bunch of rocks, though, the thin bottom might tear. Even Intex knows their pool doesn’t stand up to roughhousing. They’ve included a repair patch, so get ready to plug up those holes.
7. Monobeach Baby Beach Tent Pop Up Portable Shade Pool
A Little Pool That Protects Your Baby from the Sun and Mosquitoes
So, the thing is, you can’t use the pool at home. It doesn’t stand by itself; you actually have to dig a hole in the sand and put the pool in the hole, before you can fill it with water. Even the tent needs to be secured with stakes. You could drill them into your lawn, at least, and protect your kid from the sun and summertime mosquitoes. (Just roll down the little mesh screen, and you’ve got yourself an impenetrable fortress.)
Only one baby’ll fit in the pool, though you could maybe squeeze two in the tent. It folds up easily and slips into a carry bag, so you (or your baby) can drag it anywhere.
6. Rubbermaid Commercial Structural Foam Stock Tank
Incredibly Sturdy and Has a Valve Option to Stabilize Water Levels
So it’s not the cutest, and was originally meant as a trough. But it’s super sturdy; you could lean on the sides, and they wouldn’t give way. It’s even got an optional valve option ($26 more), which keeps water levels stable. How’s that for a fancy kiddy pool?
It measures about 31″ across and 51″ long, so you could fit grade-school aged kids (or yourself) in here. The only thing is, it doesn’t come with a drain–and since it can hold up to 50 gallons of water, consider drilling a hole yourself. (You aren’t going to bail this one out with buckets.) At least the surface is textured, so no one’ll slip while playing.
5. Earlyears Pop-Up Frog Travel Pool
Portable, Easy to Set Up, and Offers Shade
You’re only going to fit one little baby (under two years old) in this pool. You wouldn’t want to put anyone bigger in, though–the sides are really soft, and if you lean on them, they give and the water sloshes out. If you’ve got an active baby, they’ll crawl right out of the pool.
But the hood’s sturdy; it’ll protect your kid from the sun, and strong winds on the beach won’t rip it off and carry it away. The pool’s pop-up–no assembly required–and the sides stay up on their own. (So you can use it indoors). And we haven’t even talked about how cute the frog is.
4. Intex 12-Foot by 30-Inch Metal Frame Pool Set
Sturdy and Fits Five Whole Adults and Even More Children
The entire family can fit in this thing; one reviewer stuck two adults (including herself), four children, and a poodle in the pool, and everyone still had room to move. The material’s sturdy and lasts years–a plus, since no one outgrows this pool.
The only thing is, because it’s so big, it’ll be hard clearing out a space for it. The ground’s got to be more or less level, or the water’ll slosh out. Consider sticking a heavy duty tarp underneath too–because, otherwise, you’ll feel rocks and gravel under your feet. About the pump it comes with–it works, yes, but it’s not powerful and has got no timer, flow switch, or pressure gauge. Most people just swapped theirs out for a better one.
3. Intex Mini Frame Pool
Durable Vinyl Lining Easily Put Away for Storage
This thing’s 4 feet across, both ways. You need to set it up on a soft surface, like a grassy lawn–though people have gotten around this by laying out yoga mats on their patio. However, the vinyl lining is sturdy enough to withstand doggy claws, so it shouldn’t puncture easily. It’s also non-slip and has a drain plug.
The pool is easy enough to put together and take apart, but there are downsides to its construction. The legs are held in place by the weight of the pool–so if you pick the pool up to move it, they’ll fall out. They’re also metal, which a) conducts heat like nobody’s business and b) doesn’t tend to mix well with water. So if you leave a full pool out for too long, the piping rusts and burns.
2. Step2 Play and Shade Pool
Sturdy, Non-Slip, and Has an Umbrella and Toys for Hours of Play
The diameter is a little over 3 feet–and the pool has two seats molded into the side, so there’s not much guesswork needed as to how many kids’ll fit into the pool. (Two.) It’s sturdy enough to last a few seasons; honestly, your kids’ll probably outgrow it before it breaks. All of it’s rigid, so you can lean against the side and not go rolling out head-over-heels.
It comes with an umbrella and little funnels and a water wheel. They’re mesmerizing to play with–kids have fiddled around the pool for hours. The floor’s got sea animals inscribed into it, which makes it hard to slip. Just make sure you rise out the pool and stand it up to dry, so nothing starts growing in the cracks. The only thing is, there’s no drain; you basically have to bail it out with a bowl.
1. Jasonwell Foldable Dog Pet Bath Pool
Light, Foldable, and Comes in a Bunch of Diameters
Don’t be fooled by the name; your kids can play in it too. It comes in five sizes, too; the smallest with a diameter of 32 inches (perfect for plopping a baby into), the largest 63 inches (big enough for grade schoolers to lounge in). And you can fold it up into a little rectangle and shove it up on a shelf somewhere.
The sides stay upright even when the pool’s empty, but we wouldn’t recommend leaning back on them. The skeleton’s made up of fiberboard, which is light and perfect for carrying–but, put too much pressure on it, and you could break something, or tip the pool over. There’s also a drain on the side, so you don’t need to pull a Hulk and flip the thing over.
Who knew that kiddie pools came in such a variety? Plastic, vinyl, collapsible, rigid, big, small–we’ve given you a range to choose from, so hopefully, something caught your eye.
America’s been experiencing heatwaves unlike anything we’ve seen before, so stay cool out there. And, remember that it doesn’t just have to be for the kids; a good wading pool can help anyone get through the dog days of summer.
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