Complete Guide to Taking Kids, Babies & Toddlers to the Pool

I may receive a commission for purchases made through product links on this page, but I always stand by my opinions and endorsements!

If you’ve got kids of any age, your summer plans should absolutely include as many pool days as possible.

There’s no better way to get everyone outside, away from screens, staying active, and having fun!

But beware. Pool days can be an “easy win” for parents, but they still require some forethought and planning.

So here’s my complete guide to family pool days, and everything you need to know about taking kids, babies, and toddlers to the pool.

Taking the family and kids to the pool is all about packing and planning. Above all else, bring more towels, swimsuits, water, and sunscreen than you think you’ll need! It doesn’t hurt to learn a few fun pool games, either, if you want to be the fun parent at the pool.

Here are my best family pool day tips, a packing list, how to find the right pool, and more!

Where to find a kid-friendly pool near you

OK, first things first, if you don’t already belong to a pool (or own one), I highly suggest you find one!

You have a few different options to look into:

Community & HOA pools

If your own neighborhood HOA doesn’t have a pool (or a swim/tennis setup), look at some communities nearby.

Me and family actually joined the pool in a neighborhood about 5 minutes away from us, we just had to pay an outsider membership fee.

Your experience may vary depending on where you live, but a family membership to an HOA pool that you don’t already belong to should run you a couple hundred bucks for the summer.

Related, you can also look for public pools in your area — these are community pools to that cater to the whole surrounding area instead of one or two neighborhood.

Gym pools

Some gyms have fantastic pools!

Specifically, see if you have a Life Time somewhere nearby. They have epic outdoor pools at many locations, including water slides. You can also find indoor pools, hot tubs, and more.

This will be a more expensive option. For a family of 4, you’re looking at around $200-300 per month depending on where you live.

Year-round, that gets to be pricey.

You can also look into brands like LA Fitness, Gold’s Gym, and more, but these pools are almost always indoor only.

Build your own pool

The priciest option of all, it might be worth it for your family to build a pool if you have the budget and space.

You also have to be prepared to maintain the pool, which can be a headache!

An in-ground pool usually starts at around $28,000 and goes up from there.

Packing for family pool day (And what to bring for babies and toddlers)

The key to a fun time at the pool with your kids is a good packing job beforehand.

You don’t want to have to cut your day short because you forgot something crucial at home.

Here’s a packing list to get you started.

A large cooler with bottles of water, plenty of snacks, and “fun drinks.” If you’re eating a meal at the pool, bring all your ingredients plus paper plates, napkins, plastic silverware, and more.

(We love bringing basic peanut butter or lunch meat sandwiches to the pool. Ours also has a grill, so we’ll bring burger supplies on special occasions!)

A large pool bag with towels (and extra towels), extra bathing suits for babies and toddlers, Crocs or water shoes, goggles, pool toys, and more.

(I absolutely love the original BOGG BAG on Amazon for the pool.)

Tons and tons of sunscreen. We usually use a face stick for faces and spray on SPF for bodies. Mineral-based products are best!

But if have a baby and want to follow AAP recommendations, check out the complete guide to baby sunscreen vs adult sunscreen!

Floats. For babies and toddlers, we swear by water wings with chest support and shoulder straps. They totally put us at ease and our kids have loved them. Check them out on Amazon here.

And of course, bring floats and tubes for adults and older kids. You may even need to bring along a small electronic or battery operated pump.

Lots of wipes and extra swim diapers. Our kids always saved their grossest poops for the pool. Make sure you have everything you need to deal with those awful swim diaper poos.

Games! Bring balls, aqua frisbees, buckets, and more!

For adult fun, you might want to consider bringing a book (if your kids are old enough to swim on their own) and a small Bluetooth speaker for music.

Cash and change are always a good idea. If the pool has a snack bar or an ice cream truck, you’ll want this on hand. Some public pools also charge for lockers.

This is just a starter list, you’ll probably end up needing way more! Once you’ve tackled a few family pool days, you’ll learn what your family needs.

Pro tips for family pool day

Alright, so you found a pool, you packed up the car.

Now what?

Put little kids (babies and toddlers) in long-sleeve SPF bathing suits

This will save you a ton of time sunscreening cranky kids AND will offer better protection if you’re out in the sun all day.

Arrive early to grab a spot in the shade

If at all possible, try to get a chair or table with an umbrella.

Having a shady place to sit (especially with young kids) can be a necessity on hot sunny days.

You can even bring a portable umbrella to set up near your chairs in a pinch.

Learn some good pool games to play with kids

Don’t be the parent who sits on the sidelines all day. Get in the water and play!

If you have kids of multiple ages, games are a great way to keep the older kids entertained while you tend to the babies or toddlers.

Marco Polo is a classic. Sending older kids on hunts for dive toys is a great fun skill-builder. Mr. Shark What Time Is It? and Sharks and Minnows are a blast for good swimmers. Monkey in the Middle is a great land game that becomes even more fun in the pool.

Here’s a fun list of games to lear.

Baby or toddler’s first time at the pool? Be prepared for tears

Babies and toddlers who have never been to the pool may be overwhelmed or scared by the water. That’s totally normal, so prepare yourself! Your goal should be just to get them acclimated to the conditions and have them become more comfortable over time.

Don’t be too disappointed if they don’t dive in right away their first time out.

Get your kids in swim lessons ASAP

If you have the time and budget for it, swim lessons have a ton of benefits for kids.

Namely, safety. The faster your kids become strong swimmers, the safer they’ll be in the water.

But you’ll also have way more fun at the pool knowing your kids can hold their own.

Even babies and toddlers can learn to float on their own, believe it or not!

Best time to go to the pool with kids?

This is such a tough one to answer because, if your kids are young, so much depends on nap times and whether your kid can nap at the pool.

(Some kids will zonk out in a stroller or beach chair, no problem! Mine… not so much.)

It also depends on whether you want to eat a meal (usually lunch or dinner… though, pool breakfast sounds awesome!) there.

Just be flexible and realistic about what and how much your kids can handle. In general, I think late morning, lunch, and then wrapping up to head home in the early afternoon is a good plan for most families.

Wrapping Up

Family pool day rocks, that’s why summer is my favorite season.

It’s so much fun, and it gets easier and easier as your kids grow older and more independent.

Plus, I just love all of us getting outside and not staring at screens for a whole day. It’s the best quality time we get all year round sometimes, and I cherish it!

Before you go, stick around for some of my recent favorites like:

Hope this helps!