14 best pool toys for kids and families in 2021

With recent heat waves sweeping the country, many people are looking for ways to keep cool this summer, including flocking to the beach or investing in some outdoor play sprinklers. And if you have access to a pool you’ll likely want some toys, floats and other fun accessories to amp up your swim. Fortunately, there are several options for the whole family to enjoy, from large inflatable balls and basketball hoops to water blasters and pool noodles. To help you sort through the seemingly endless options online, we’ve compiled some highly rated pool toys for kids and families to help escape the summer heat.

SKIP AHEAD Best pool toys

A brief guide on pool toy safety

While all kinds of pool toys can enhance your summer swimming sessions, you should always keep in mind appropriate safety precautions, especially when children are involved. When it comes to floats and inflatable toys, Emily Samuel, program director for Safe Kids Worldwide, told us in our guide to pool noodles that you’ll still want to keep an eye on kids in the pool and ensure young kids stay within arm’s reach of an adult. Most floating toys, including pool noodles, aren’t intended to help prevent children from drowning.

In addition to supervision and reading the manufacturer instructions before using a toy, you should consider a few more pool toy safety tips:

  • Inspect toys before use: Make sure there aren’t any signs of wear and tear, such as holes and cracks, which can cause leaks or the toy to sink. You may also want to check for bugs, especially if the toy has been stored away for a while.
  • Clean toys: Disinfecting your pool toys can be an efficient way to ensure germs and bacteria don’t spread. According to Pool Store Inc., you should combine about a gallon of water with 16 ounces of bleach and scrub the toy with a brush while wearing gloves and protective eyewear.
  • Securely store toys after use: Not only does storing toys away help them from getting damaged due to weather and sun exposure, but it can also prevent a drowning risk if a child decides to play with it in the moment.

Best pool toys in 2021

Family and friends can show off their basketball skills without having to leave the pool with this inflatable hoop, complete with a basketball that features a textured finish for a better grip. The brand claims the hoop can be inflated and deflated quickly, making it easier for storage, and it sits at 40 inches tall when fully inflated.

This 6-pack water shooter set can be used by the whole family for a competitive twist to a classic pool day — you simply pull back the handle to load the cannon with water, aim at your target and push the handle forward to blast a stream of water. It’s also lightweight for easy portability and floats in water. The toy is recommended for kids ages 6 and up.

This versatile and inflatable lawn game can be used both on the ground and inside the pool. The cornhole set comes with two game boards and eight waterproof cornhole bags. There are also grommets on all 4 corners so you can tether the game board on land or in the water to keep it in one place.

Recommended for anyone ages six and up, this set of three is a great option for a diving game since the balls quickly sink to the bottom and the colorful neoprene streamers are easily visible underwater.

A classic toy for pool or beach days, these rainbow-colored inflatable beach balls can be used for a game of catch or just a casual volley. According to the brand, the balls are designed for long-term use and have durable and well-sewn seams so they don’t fall apart. For these, it’s best to use a hand pump or you can blow them up by mouth.

For kids and families who prefer to float around, this inflatable tube can be good for lounging. At 36 inches in diameter and made from durable vinyl, this tube is recommended for anyone ages nine and up and comes with flower graphics printed in three assorted colors: Blue, Orange, and Pink.

For Disney fans, this Finding Dory-themed diving game includes one Mr. Ray net and five characters that each float at different depths for added fun. This can be a good option for keeping kids engaged while also practicing their diving skills and building their confidence to go underwater.

For a more active pool day, these rings are 31 inches in diameter and can be used to swim through underwater in a makeshift obstacle course. Each hoop has adjustable air chambers that allow you to choose how deep it should go and to let it float in one place. They’re also collapsible, making them easy to store and take on most trips.

This waterproof remote-controlled car can drive smoothly on land and in water. According to the brand, the car features a 200-foot remote control distance, can reach a maximum speed of 7.5 mph and can be USB-charged.

This stingray-shaped glider can propel forward underwater up to 60 feet, the brand claims. You can adjust both wings on the sides to customize the flight patterns so it’ll glide straight or at an angle. Recommended for ages 5 and up, this glider measures 8 inches in length and approximately 10 inches wide.

This 8-piece set can help young kids develop motor skills and hand-eye coordination, according to the brand. It features two shark nets, is equipped with an easy-grip handle, and has six colorful fish that kids can try to capture. The brand recommends this game for kids ages six and up.

A fun option for pool parties, this inflatable net is approximately 8 feet long and about 3 feet high, complete with an inflatable volleyball. It also includes a repair patch for any unexpected punctures and two anchor bags that you can fill with rocks or most other heavy materials to keep the net in place.

This dragon float can be an exciting addition to your pool toys collection, complete with a 3D head, tail and faux flames coming out of its nostrils. It’s lightweight at just over 2 pounds and can hold up to 100 pounds, making it useful for younger kids. When deflated and not in use, the float can also be folded for compact storage.

Another floating game to try is this classic round of ring toss, which comes with a lightweight foam base post and four durable, vinyl-coated rings — two Blue and two Green. The vinyl coating also makes the rings easy to disinfect, according to the brand.

Catch up on the latest from NBC News Shopping guides and recommendations and download the NBC News app for full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak.

Jacquelin Burkhammer

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