31 Essentials For Kids And Parents For Summer Pool Time
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31 Essentials For Kids And Parents For Summer Pool Time

Mar 19, 2023

We hope you love our recommendations! Some may have been sent as samples, but all were independently selected by our editors. Just FYI, BuzzFeed collects a share of sales and/or other compensation from the links on this page.

Whether the pool is public or private, here's a deep dive into all of the gear that a family needs for an aquatic experience that's anything but shallow.

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A U.S. Coast Guard-approved kids life vest/jacket for children in the 30- to 50-pound range still earning their sea legs (and arms and other body parts).

A six-pack of durable, absorbent, but still soft striped beach and pool towels because how's it going to be the best summer if you're not drying off after a quick dip with one of these?

An inflatable swimming pool basketball hoop set for draining those three-pointers from the deep end (Kobe!) or dunking from the most shallow of depths. Comes with the ball!

Promising review: "I got these for my kids to play in the pool with, and they most certainly didn't disappoint. The maximum range on these (around 30 feet with a little elbow grease put into it) surpasses any Super-Soaker that I've ever tried, and they're extremely easy to use. Granted, they have no water reservoir, so you have to use them in the pool, lake, ocean, etc., for them to be effective, but aside from that, they are a fantastic water toy. Plus, they're brightly colored and float on the surface of the water so almost impossible to lose." —iEspresso

Get it from Amazon for $19.99.

Promising review: "The lounge chairs are absolutely beautiful. I bought them to sunbathe by the pool. They recline very smoothly and have no trouble getting in or out of it. I really like the tray for my drink and my phone. It has a spot for a book as well. I would recommend these for sure." —Noemi Bonilla

"First, the order arrived quickly. The chairs came folded, so there is no putting them together! Easy to open, unfold, and they're ready! I got them as extra chairs around the pool. They are well-made and attractive. I love that I can fold up and put away easily if I want, but they are attractive enough to leave out. Very comfortable for sitting or reclining. Can't beat the price, either. Very happy with the purchase." —Kath

Get it from Amazon for $99.99+ (available in 22 colors and patterns).

Promising review: "We've been using 'Allie' regularly for the past two years. She's gone with us to many lakes and now lives in the backyard pool this summer. She's been flipped, jumped on, and manhandled like crazy and yet she's still in one piece. We're careful about how she's treated on land, but in the water is fair game. She's big enough that both kids (ages 9 and 11) can fit on her together, or I can kick them off and lay on her myself! But packs up really small, so she's easy to bring along to the lake." —Content Buyer

Get it from Amazon for $16.98.

Promising review: "Bought these for my kids for our Hawaii trip. Been using them ever since. Great quality! Awesome facial coverage for extra UV protection for my little ones! They're comfortable. And come with an adjustable strap to ensure it won't fall off in the wind. And the pattern is an extra cute bonus! Would definitely repurchase!" —Kaity Miller

Get it from Amazon for $9.99+ (available in 22 patterns and colors).

Promising review: "I didn't have to wash them 100 times to get the fuzz out; these things washed and dried extremely well and kept their softness. The kids love these, I was worried the colors would run, but they did not. Excellent quality for the cost." —frank johnson

Get it from Amazon for $31.99+ (available in quantities of 6, 12, and 36).

For ages 3–8

Promising review: "These are definitely inexpensive but so far have held up to a lot of bangs and drops and squashes. I bought a pair that was the same price as this three-pack, and it seems about the same. So get three! Trust me; they’ll lose at least one." —William B.

"With four young kids (all 6 and under) and living in an extremely sunny state, having quality sunglasses on hand is very important. We actually have nine pairs of these sunglasses, and they are incredible. My kids are rough on them, and they have yet to break in any way. I would absolutely recommend these." —Kindle Customer

Get it from Amazon for $14.99+ (available in five different color combinations).

Promising review: "I ordered these for the end of the school year party. They are great quality and just the right size. Not too big or small. The kids signed each other's and then played 'keep-it-in-the-air.' They had a blast. My son's ball has held up great outside in the hot Arizona sun, pool, and being beat on, LOL! I will definitely be buying them again!" —Lisa

Get it from Amazon for $13.99.

Promising review: "This Is the second year my kiddo picked out this brand of sandal. The first pair lasted her about a year and a half, and my girl is ACTIVE. (non-Velcro style) this year she picked Velcro ones because she liked the colors, so I hope they work just as lovely. She's always Fishing, hiking, and getting her feet wet, this kid wears her shoes out, and these stand the test of how long shoes fit kiddos. I found that she wears a smaller sandal size than a sneaker...if that helps at all...This shoe will be my go-to again next year due to the cost, and durability of these sandals for such an active child doing cartwheels on dirt roads, super awesome sandals." —F30

Get it from Amazon for $19.99+ (available in five colors and sizes 10 Little Kid through 6 Big Kid).

Promising review: "I've gone through quite a few of these over the years and always wondered why nobody used a tighter weave for the screen. Well, here it is! I ordered the Ultra Fine Mesh and am very happy with this so far. It picks up even the tiniest of gnats, and the top has a nice, curved end for scooping on the bottom. It's also nice to see this in a color other than blue = loving the green. All in all, I'm very satisfied with this product. Hope it lasts!" —Savvy Shopper

Get it from Amazon for $20.99+.

Promising review: "I purchased this swim cap for my 3-year-old daughter. I was looking for something to protect her hair from the weekly exposure to chlorine from her swim lessons. The swim cap fits well over her thick curly hair; it doesn't snag, pull or tug on her hair and slips on very easily. The only trouble is if I pull it down all the way, it covers her ears, and she has trouble hearing her swim instructor. We just flip the area near her ears up and secure it with her goggle strap, which seems to work. The quality of the material is great! I expect we will have this for years to come. I have been swimming for years, and the quality of Speedo products is very consistent across products. I am very pleased with this purchase!" —AW

Get it from Amazon for $11.96+ (available in three colors).

Promising reviews: "I bought this to have as a travel first aid kit. I do not check bags when flying, so I had this in my carry-on and had no issues going through any security while traveling internationally. This is small and does not take up much room, and has the essentials that you need. I have had to use this, and I am happy that I had it." —acemics niv

"I haven't used anything in this kit, but I bought it as a precaution for traveling. There's nothing worse than being on vacation and needing one Band-Aid and having to buy an entire box. It is small, so it's easy to toss in your travel bag and go! I sometimes keep it in my car even when I'm not traveling. I'm one of those people who are always cutting or nicking their fingers — very convenient to have around." —Amanda A

Get it from Amazon for $13.19.

For ages 3+

Promising review: "I bought these for my five-year-old because I was sick of filling and tying millions of water balloons...then picking up the teeny tiny pieces of those million water balloons, lol. They are very durable. We have had them for about four months now and love them. They are easy to fill, just open them up and put them in water. They self-seal with the magnets that hold them together. I was skeptical and figured they would leak, but they have held up so much better than I would have thought. If you are sick of filling up water balloons for kids, I would definitely recommend these!!! Will be purchasing more!" —Cassie

Get it from Amazon for $15.99+ (available in four different pack sizes).

Promising review: "This was bought for adults, and it's awesome. Easy to spread on and no breakouts. No more tears swimming either from sunscreen burning your eyes. This is not just for kids." —R Greulich

Get it from Amazon for $7.98.

Promising review: "I love this deck of cards! They can be washed, and you can have people touch them with drink residue or whatever else is on their hands and be okay; it won't ruin the cards, and that was my motivation behind buying these, and this was well worth it! And it even comes with a backpack clip to hold the cards in place and for you to clip onto anything! The only complaint guests have is how slick they feel, and they sometimes stick together, but I don't mind it!" —Shanice

Get it from Amazon for $10.99.

Promising review: "At first, I thought, who would review pool noodles? Then I realized - because no one does, you don't realize how magnificent these pool noodles are. Over the past few weeks, I have really put these to the test. First, they float like nobody's business. You can't ask for better-floating foam noodles. Even when you try to sink them, they float right back up. They never give up. But then, the real test - mock sword battles. I was the terror of the household. I could not be defeated. It was like I *WAS* the Immortal. There can be only one, and it is me. (cue Queen music now). But the most amazing thing of all is that after that — THEY STILL FLOAT! They just bob along the top of the water, waiting for their next assignment. I have used them to lay on, sit on; you name it. They just float and don't give up. So if you really want pool noodles that float, get these. You will not regret it, and your neighbors will want to be you." —N. Tara Smith

Get it from Amazon for $15.99+ (available in 10 different color combinations).

Promising review: "I've bought two of these so far as my kid has gotten older and will likely continue to buy a new one annually. My toddler wears his every day to the beach; no sunburns yet! The zipper is essential — it makes it so easy to take it on and off when wet. The fit is fairly true to size, but you may as well size up so it'll fit for longer (you can always roll up the sleeves). I've also tried hooded sun shirts but have found the hood to be too much trouble when wet; this version paired with a sun hat and some sun leggings is a good compromise." —Tulip

Get it from Amazon for $24.99 (available in sizes 0 months–14 years and 22 colors and patterns).

Promising review: "I love that my bag is waterproof and spacious. It serves the purpose of storing and transporting my pool swimming items." —Earl P.

"I bought two to keep things dry on a recent hiking trip in Peru. It rained... didn't have to worry about anything in the Earth Pak getting wet. It's easy to use... just fold the top over and snap the two ends together. I just bought another smaller one to bring to the beach and pool... an orange one so I can easily find it...! Nothing negative to say about it." —TJM

Get it from Amazon for $16.99+ (available in 6 sizes and 9 colors).

For ages 3+

Promising review: "My 4-year-old loved that it easily sucks up the water. She also loved that the water comes out of their hands like they are shooting webs! Overall a great bath toy!" —Laura

"Perfect size for bath time fun! I'll purchase a second set for summer pool days." —Targetsavv

Get Spider-Man or Bluey from Target for $6.99.

Promising review: "I had to come out to write a review cuz when it was shopping for this, I remember a review or two saying that it was, 'so hard to put together.' So I was shocked at how easy this was. Directions are clear and easy, and just gotta push tubes into connectors. No biggie. The size is perfect. Feels sturdy enough for our small collection of pool toys, and the pockets are great for diving rings, goggles, etc." —Lisa Shepard

Get it from Amazon for $49.99 (available in four colors).

Promising review: "My little grandaughter loves her frilly new swimsuit. She is always the cutest swimmer in the pool because her suits are unique and adorable, thanks to Kidpik!" —Alene H.

Get the ombre- or multi-striped trunks for $11.40 (available in sizes 2T–XXL and the tankini swimsuit or the one-piece swimsuit (available in sizes 2T–XXL) for $13.40 from Kidpik.

For ages 5+

Promising review: "My 3-year-old is obsessed with this toy. LOL worth every penny!" —Jpo

Get it from Target for $11.99.

For ages 9+.

Promising review: "I bought these not expecting much from them. I thought they'd just be some cheap rings that I'd have to throw after a single use...quite the contrary...these are awesome. The material is very strong, and the rings [are] big enough for an adult. Easy to inflate and very strong. The colors and patterns are vibrant as well. No complaints. I would purchase them again! Definitely!" —Joshua

Get it from Amazon for $16.99+ (available in fruit, tropical, and donut designs).

Includes a base but reviewers recommend really weighting it down!

Promising review: "This umbrella is huge! It covers our extra large table and gives good shade coverage. When you buy the base with it, you have to go buy sand to put in the two zippered bags it comes with, which seemed a little janky at first, but it works and has a cover that goes over that on the base, and it stands up to strong breezes." —Stacia Boston

Get it from Amazon for $169.95 (available in four colors).

I got a chance to test these out with my 4-year-old, and from the moment he opened the box, he loved them. These are a great next step for getting kids to put on their shoes on by themselves too. Pretty sure this will be the official "shoe-of-the-summer" around our home.

Promising review: "My son is almost 5, and he loves these shoes. He can wear them with socks or barefoot, and they stay on his feet. They're also easy to put on! He plays a lot of soccer in them 😂 and he says he loves them!" —Nadejda D.

Get it from Kane for $60 (available in eight colors and sizes C11—J2 following standard sizing for a running shoe).

Promising review: "This was by far the hit of my child's pool party. The kids played with it for hours. It stayed inflated throughout the summer. The basketball that comes with it is heavy enough to bounce on the pool deck and also easy and light enough to shoot when swimming in the pool. I hope it reinflates without any issues next summer. That said, I will happily buy another one if it doesn't—it was that much fun." —Nereviewer

Get it from Amazon for $41.97 (available in two colors).

What can I say? I love this bag and everything about it! Yes, it is expensive, but it's an investment piece for a more enjoyable summer (and other seasons too). For pool or beach time, you always want something that can hold a lot that also has easy access. Canvas tote bags are great, but they're so hard to clean and get beat up real quick. You can feel the quality built into this Yeti every time you pick it up (and pack it up too). Sturdy as they come! You can even throw ice in there and use it as a cooler!

Promising review: "Everything you would expect from Yeti. Great bag; used it at the beach, at the pool, and for everyday use. Easy to clean." —Amazon Customer

Get it from Amazon for $150+ (available in 9 colors).

Promising review: "The lifejacket is well-made, comfortable, and provides some buoyancy in the water, which gives me peace of mind when my child is swimming or playing in the pool. The adjustable strap ensures a snug and secure fit, and the bright color and fun design make it attractive to kids. I appreciate that this lifejacket is US Coast Guard approved, so I know it meets the safety standards necessary to keep my child safe (supervision required)." —Gretchen

Get it from Amazon for $22.99+ (available in 11 color/design options).

For ages 5+

Promising review: "Really fun for the kids - keeps them in the pool longer, and I like that these sink quickly and move a bit from where they enter the water so kids have to look around a bit for them they aren't just literally right below where tossed in. That can be tricky for little kids just learning to dive for stuff because they may travel deeper than intended, but I’d say 7+ these are super, and good for 5-6 if experienced in swimming underwater/diving for toys." —Meeeeeeee

Get it from Target for $5.

For ages 5+.

Promising review: "This is a great water toy. (Gun? It doesn't look like a gun!) But it is amazing and beats all of the water toys that I’ve purchased! I’m a diehard Super Soaker fan, and nothing on the market even comes close to what we used to get in the '90s EXCEPT this thing!!! I’m so excited for camping and our first water fight; the kids are GOING DOWN! The capacity is decent, and the water pressure is amazing." —Jessica D.

Get it from Amazon for $24 (available in three colors).

For ages 3—14

Promising review: "What more can I say here? My toddler keeps them on while swimming and has even wanted to bring them to the bath. Considering I can't get him to keep a hat on his head, this speaks volumes." —SMB

Get it from Amazon for $12.99+ (available in four different color combinations.

For ages 3+

Promising review: "My kids love this compared to standard pool floaties like tubes or mats. The toy looks like a real Jet Ski, has two inflatable compartments, a handle on the front, and a little flag on the rear. Fun pool toy, I highly recommend it!" —TJ

Get it from Amazon for $9.62.

Reviews have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Promising review: I’m so excited for camping and our first water fight; the kids are GOING DOWN!