Last Updated on April 25, 2023 by The Filtery
Kiddie pools are a quintessential part of summer childhood memories. Beloved in backyards big and small (and in some cases even on balconies or in tiny courtyards for city dwellers!), kiddie pools provide hours of entertainment and welcome relief for parents when temperatures start to climb.
The bad news is that finding a completely non-toxic kiddie pool is a bit of a challenge, considering that most are made from toxic PVC plastic.
But the good news is that there are some safer options available on the market today. We’ve done the research for you so that you can enjoy your outdoor spaces with your kiddos during the long, hot days of summer.
P.S. Click here for more guides to a non-toxic spring and summer. We’ve got guides to pool toys, garden hoses, play sand, swimwear, and more.
This post may contain affiliate links, which means we might earn a commission if you choose to make a purchase. We only make recommendations that are genuine and meet our standards.
What Kind of Plastics Are In Kiddie Pools?
When considering the materials used in baby pools, there are a few things to understand about plastics. Just as you are undoubtedly aware of how plastics have changed in terms of food storage, water bottles, and other everyday items, there has also been attention drawn to kiddie pools and other children’s items.
The main type of plastic you will want to be aware of is polyvinyl chloride, or PVC. This is a common material in kiddie pools and also, unfortunately, a toxic one. Its chemical additives can include phthalates, cadmium, lead, and other things that are potentially harmful to your child’s health.
In addition to that, PVC is no friend to our ecosystem. When chlorine-based chemicals like PVC are produced, we see a direct effect on the atmosphere and local water supply. The pollutants discharged in PVC production wreak havoc on the world around us. (This is what happened with the toxic train derailment in East Palestine.)
Therefore, your kiddie pool choice is not only about protecting your little ones, but also about making a decision that is best for the world around them (and therefore, their future!).
Do I Really Need To Be Worried About A Toxic Kiddie Pool?
Parents are faced with so many choices for their children. Some decisions are as minor as whether or not to sign their five-year-old up for soccer over T-ball, while others have more long-lasting consequences when it comes to health.
Of course, parents cannot prevent every scratch, bump, or bruise (nor should they!), but the potential damage certain toxins can do to one’s health over a long period of time can be more serious or long-lasting. It’s impossible to avoid environmental toxins 100%, which is why it’s important for parents to focus on what they can control.
Are Inflatable Pools Toxic? Are Hard Plastic Kiddie Pools Safer Than Inflatable Kiddie Pools?
For many parents looking into the safety of kiddie pools, questions arise about the differences, pros, and cons between traditional hard, plastic kiddie pools and the inflatable versions. Some parents like the stability of the traditional hard kiddie pools, whereas others are drawn to the easy portability of a pool that can be deflated for storage.
Of course, the fact that the inflatable pool requires a pump can also be a con. So sometimes the choice comes down to safety, budget, and personal preference over portability.
When it comes to toxicity though, you’ll find that hard plastic kiddie pools tend to be safer on average because of the types of plastic they’re typically made out of.
When it comes to kiddie pools, you might want to have a general understanding of plastic resin codes in order to make an informed buying decision. We’ve included more info on the resin codes further down in this article, which can help you as you shop.
Choosing the “Best” (If Not Perfect) Option
One last thing before we give you our recommendations for baby pools. There is not really a 100% perfect answer here. Plastic-free kiddie pools don’t really exist. And there aren’t very many that are free from PVC.
This can potentially make shopping for kiddie pools a frustrating challenge… But when there are no perfect choices, I encourage you to just remember to focus on what you can control and make the best decision possible.
Remember that stress can also be toxic! Try not to let baby pool shopping keep you from enjoying fun in the sun with your loved ones this year.
(And if you are going to buy a PVC-based kiddie pool, at least look for “phthalate-free” or “BPA-free” PVC, which can be considered a safer option.)
With all of that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best options for kiddie pools and wading pools (for kids, dogs, and adults!) so you can enjoy the warm summer sun.
Best Non-Toxic Kiddie Pools & Wading Pools
Step 2 Play & Shade Pool
Dimensions: 37.5” H by 37.5” W by 7.5” deep
Weight: 13 lbs.
Features: Two molded seats, a 40-inch umbrella, three funnel cups, and a water spinner water toy included
This hard plastic pool is a classic and is loved by parents— especially thanks to the shade-providing umbrella. This can be a great option for yards with full sun, as it can help protect your little one’s delicate skin.
The pool holds 12 gallons of pool water for splash-time fun, and in the colder months, it can be used as a sandbox, holding up to 165 pounds of sand. (Find non-toxic sand options right here!)
It is made from HDPE (resin code #2) and is both durable and affordable.
Shop the Play & Shade Pool | Buy at Walmart
Funsicle Round Kiddie Pool
Dimensions: 7.9″ H x 45″ W
Features: No setup required. Affordable price point at less than $13.
This hard plastic wading pool is made out of polyethylene. It can double as a sandbox or pet splashing pool when the kids aren’t swimming in it. It doesn’t require any set up and is easy to clean. If you want to get multiple, they’re stackable for easier storage.
Plus, coming in at less than $13, it’s one of the most affordable options on this list.
Check out this hard plastic kiddie pool at Lowe’s
EverEarth Beach Blanket and Kiddie Pool
Dimensions: 70.86” by 70.86” by .19”
Weight: 1 pound
Features: Multipurpose item with a portable carrying case that also acts as a bucket
When it comes to safely and responsibly designed kiddie pools, EverEarth is one manufacturer you can rely on for not only attention to your kids’ health but also a commitment to protecting the environment. EverEarth uses more eco-conscious materials in its products whenever possible.
This pool, which is suitable for children three years and up, is made from thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), which the brand says is phthalate-free, biodegradable, recyclable, and has a 20% smaller CO2 footprint compared to traditional PVC. It is great summer fun for younger kids.
Buy the EverEarth Beach Blanket and Kiddie Pool
Costzon Inflatable Water Slide
Dimensions: 156 x 118 x 100 inches
Weight: 28.6 pounds
Features: This pool doubles as an inflatable bounce house and can hold up to four children
As mentioned, it’s very difficult to find a PVC-free inflatable pool, but Costzon carries a collection of inflatable pools that are made from PU and nylon fabric, which are better than PVC. It’s durable and puncture-resistant, too.
You’re sure to become the go-to funhouse of the neighborhood with one of these inflatable pool/bounce houses!
Check out the Costzon Inflatable Water Slide
A Few More “Okay” Options for Kiddie Pools
If the pools listed above aren’t cutting it for you, here are a few more options that are not great, but not terrible. These inflatable pools are NOT PVC-free, but they do claim to be made of vinyl that’s free from things like phthalates.
These rooftop-friendly inflatable pools are super cute, that’s for sure. They’re not PVC-free, but they’re made from heavyweight vinyl that’s free of BPA, phthalates, and lead.
With designs like “Confetti Peppermint,” “Stripe Garden,” and “Yellow Mellow,” Liewood also gets points for cute designs.
Although these inflatable pools are also not PVC-free, Liewood does ensure us that they are BPA-free and compliant with EN71-8 European safety standards.
Just like the two brands above, these inflatable kiddie pools are not PVC-free, but Hello Samah says they are tested to be free from BPA, phthalates, and lead. They also offer arm floaties and intertube rings as well.
What Are Plastic Resin Codes?
One of the best ways for consumers to understand the health impacts associated with plastics is through the plastic resin codes.
Initially, the codes were developed to facilitate the recycling of consumer plastics. The codes (or numbers) designated which type of resin was used in the product so that workers in a recycling facility would know how to separate and sort them.
When it comes to recycling—and also when it comes to our health and environment—not all plastics are created equal. In fact, the sad truth is that most of us think more plastic is recyclable than what actually gets recycled in any given year. (Not to mention that some research indicates that recycled plastic may actually leach more chemicals than virgin plastic, too.)
For an extensive breakdown on the 7 types of plastic, check out this article. In the meantime, here’s a summary of the different plastic resin codes:
- “1” = polyethylene terephthalate or “PET,” which is commonly used in plastic cups or bottles and other types of packaging
- “2” = high-density polyethylene or “HDPE,” which we find in milk jugs, plastic bottles, and cups
- “3” = polyvinyl chloride or “PVC,” which is found in everything from raincoats to credit cards to pipes
- “4” = low-density polyethylene or “LDPE” is in our plastic bags, the plastic rings attached to six-packs of beverages, and tubing
- “5” = polypropylene or “PP,” which is associated with many food containers and auto parts
- “6” = polystyrene or “PS,” which covers the styrofoam category, along with plastic utensils and cafeteria trays
- “7” = a category of “other” plastics including acrylic, nylon, polycarbonate, and polylactic acid
Which Plastic Resin Codes Are Considered Safer For Kiddie Pools?
The biggest resin code you want to try and avoid is 3. However, as you’ve seen above, that can be difficult to do. If possible, you can prioritize your kiddie pool choices as those marked with the following resin codes:
- “2” = high-density polyethylene or “HDPE”
- “4” = low-density polyethylene or “LDPE”
- “5” = polypropylene or “PP”
These are safer choices when it comes to kiddie pools (as well as other plastic items that your children may use).
More Tips For Enjoying Safe, Non-Toxic Kiddie Pools This Summer
Once you choose a kiddie pool to enjoy in the warm temperatures, you may have a few more questions about using it, caring for it, and storing it. We have some final tips to leave with you to ensure you have a safe and healthy kiddie pool experience.
What About That Garden Hose?
Making safe choices when it comes to kiddie pools is important, but it is equally important to fill that pool safely. Consider this when it comes to the garden hose you use to fill the pool.
Your little ones may very well drink some of the water in the pool (accidentally or not), so you want to be sure it is safe to ingest. Most garden hoses are made with PVC, so at the very least, you want to make sure you buy one that is labeled “lead-free,” “BPA-free,” and “safe for drinking water.”
Click here for our full guide to non-toxic garden hoses, including what to look for and our recommended brands.
Is It Safe To Leave Water In A Kiddie Pool and for How Long?
Over time, chemicals can leach out of the plastics and into the water. (Not to mention things like possible bacteria buildup). To be safe, we recommend draining the pool about every 24 hours.
This can be a bit of a dilemma for parents who also do not want to waste water, so you may not want to make it an everyday activity for your little ones.
What Is The Safe Way To Disinfect A Kiddie Pool?
The CDC recommends using bleach to disinfect your kiddie pool, which is not a bad idea if a sick child has an accident in the pool or something like that. However, bleach is super harsh and can be toxic as well, so if you need to disinfect, we recommend using Force of Nature cleaner instead.
And if you’re just doing a basic cleaning (and you don’t need to disinfect), a simple all-purpose cleaner or non-toxic dish detergent will work just fine!
Simply squirt some soap into the pool, add a bit of fresh water from the hose, wipe it down with a rag, rise, and dump!
How Do You Keep a Kiddie Pool Clean Without Chemicals?
Unlike a larger pool, you really shouldn’t need to use harsh chemicals like chlorine to keep bacteria at bay… You simply need to refresh the water and periodically clean your pool with an all-purpose cleaner or non-toxic dish soap, as recommended above.
How Do You Store A Plastic Kiddie Pool?
Once you have finished with the kiddie swimming pool for the season, you may decide to transform it into a sandbox for the kids to play in during the cooler months. But if you are not going to use it, give it a good final cleaning and make sure it is thoroughly dry before storing it in order to prevent mold and mildew. Because the hard plastic pools can take up a lot of space, consider purchasing some large/deep wall hooks for your garage, which can keep it off the floor and out of the way.
The best tip when it comes to finding a non-toxic kiddie pool for your little one is this: you are an amazing parent just for getting informed! Try not to let yourself get overwhelmed. Information is a powerful and you looking into these issues to protect your children will help to ensure their wellbeing for years to come.
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Image Credits: Christine Tutunjian, Polina Tankilevitch, all product photos belong to respective brands