When it comes to summer fun for the whole family, you just can’t beat a day at the pool. Whether practicing their breaststroke or enjoying some pool games, kids can spend hours splashing, diving, jumping and floating in the water. Which means more time for parents to chill out poolside (while keeping a watchful eye on young swimmers, of course). To kick things up a notch this season, check out our roundup of the best swim gear and pool toys for kids, according to real moms.
1. Speedo Unisex-Child Swim Goggles Skoogle
The number one gripe adults have with swimming goggles is the same reason why kids don’t like to wear them—they’re usually not that comfortable (and they tend to leak). Not these clever underwater spectacles from Speedo, however, that boast an adjustable fit with soft padding around the eyes that keeps water out. “These goggles fit nicely over my son’s head without leaving any visible marks on his face or letting any water in,” says one mom. “I also like that they’ll grow with him.” Oh, and they feature anti-fog and UV protection. No wonder parents—and mini Jacques Cousteaus—love ‘em. These kid-friendly goggles are designed to fit children ages 3 to 8 years old.
2. Stearns Puddle Jumper
While you should never leave kids unattended in the pool, floaties are a great way to keep children above the surface and let them experience the joys of paddling as you swim beside them. “I grew up with those 99-cent inflatable floaties, where one would inevitably deflate,” one mom tells us. “I'm so grateful for this little Puddle Jumper vest, which is easy to get on and off (my daughter actually looks forward to wearing it!) and keeps her head and shoulders above water.” With an adjustable strap, this clever device can help young swimmers weighing 30 to 50 pounds gain their confidence in the pool.
3. World’s Finest Pool Noodle
These colorful floating toys are a splash-time staple for a reason, but as it turns out, not all pool noodles are created equal. This luxe pick boasts more than 150 five-star reviews and promises to withstand sun, salt water and chlorine, so you can enjoy it year after year. That’s thanks to a triple vinyl coating designed to resist cracking, fading and peeling. (They also hold up great when used as light sabers and/or swords, we’re told.) Yes, one of these costs more than your kid’s swimsuit, but this toy is “1,000 times better than the other noodles,” one enthusiastic mom told us. It also gets bonus points for actually looking—dare we say—pretty chic in the pool.
4. Swimways Baby Spring Float Activity Center
Before tiny tots learn how to swim, they need to feel comfortable in the water. One way to help them do that is to make splish-splashing in the pool interactive and fun. Enter this floating activity center that features a removable octopus toy complete with tentacles to hold even more playthings (a fish teether, soft star, squeaker fish and stacking rings are included). “My one-year-old loves floating around in this,” enthuses a pool-owning mom. “And it has a UV-proof visor that sits over her, so I don’t have to worry about her getting burned.” Recommended for babies ages 9 to 24 months.
5. Water Sports Swim Thru Rings
These hoops magically float underwater for kids to swim through, an activity that PureWow’s chief content officer’s 7-year-old is obsessed with. The rings are collapsible for easy transport and decorated with turtles and fish. They can also be used for a range of swimming levels, since the rings’ air chambers can be adjusted to change the underwater depth, giving your kid an opportunity to improve his skills this summer. And here’s a challenge for more experienced divers: Can they swim through all three hoops in one go?
6. Balnore Diving Toys
When it comes to getting more bang for your buck, this 28-piece set for kids ages 3 and up is top of the line. It includes diving rings, water torpedo bandits, diving sticks, diving fish, stringy octopus, aquatic dive balls and a storage bag. Young swimmers will love diving for treasure and since some items sink faster than others, this set will provide entertainment for kids of different ages and skill levels. Kids especially love that the torpedoes zoom through the water instead of just sinking. “They were a hit!” raves one mom of two.
7. Finis Floating Swim Fins
The right pair of flippers can help strengthen kids’ kick and—once they get the hang of them—propel them through the water at lightning speed. These best-sellers come in a range of sizes, but before you add to cart, watch this handy video detailing how to measure your kid’s feet so that you can make sure that you get the right fit.