The Top Items a Toddler Mom Needs at the Pool to Keep it Simple

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Remember last winter when you were so excited for the first big snow and you couldn’t wait to take your little one out? And then you did it once… And were worn out and fine to not repeat! Between dressing the toddler in the bundling up the kid(s) and yourself and then managing them in the snow and keeping the clothes on—was it worth it?

Now it’s stinkin’ hot outside and the pool sounds perfect–but will it be more tiresome than it’s worth?

I’m here to tell you the pool fun can be fun, simple and still refreshing to YOU. But it still needs to be done right or you can end up with madness. We have to pack up and drive for our pool trips. My problem was figuring out what to bring for two toddlers without going overboard. Not to mention I had to get them inside the pool AND carry my stuff in one trip. (And those under age three can’t help carry much more than a floaty toy!) 

How do you avoid eight bags of stuff? Here’s my top items, suggestions broken down into 3 bags; however, you can easily combine these bags, especially if you have only one kid.

Bag #1: Wet Items

Obviously, nothing should be wet arriving at the pool, but leaving you’ll want the wet stuff in one bag. Initially I keep toys/water gear in this bag. 

Item: Swim suits
My suggestion: Swim shirts.
I have one of these for Jacob and need one for Lou. They help so much with the sun cover and are much easier than sunscreen. I suggest two piece suits for girls to make potty breaks/diaper changes simpler. (I also do hats, but I know many kids won’t wear them.) Also, I dress and sunscreen my kiddos in the car. It’s convenient to open the back of my van and do it there. It makes containing more than one toddler much easier! So you know the others are safe while one gets dressed.

Item: Swim Safety wear
My Suggestion: Stearns Puddle Jumpers.
Although they are bulky to pack, they kids wear them well on the occasions they get in the deeper pool. (I have a traditional one and an infant style.) I also like my inflatable raft/carrier they can ride on but deflates for packing. 

Item: Sunscreen
My Suggestion: 50+ SPF
While I actually prefer traditional lotion (and it’s what I use initially), I highly suggest having some spray sunscreen and a sunscreen stick for faces. If you plan to be out more than an hour you NEED to reapply on your kids and the spray will be much easier once they are already running wild. 

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Item: Toys
My suggestion: Smaller inflatables, floating toys
This will vary with your kids, but the key is to limit it if you have limited bag space. Here are some tips.

  • I like the small inflatables because they pack up well and don’t take long to blow up. Lou loves something to float on even in the kiddie pool. (I bought $1 inflatable rings and she loves them!)
  • I prefer floating toys to diving toys because Jake sometimes falls over when trying to pick up the diving kind.
  • I suggest squishy balls and toys that hold water as opposed to things like water guns—they are kind of hard for young kids to use.
  • Another thing to try are items that can poor water (cups, watering cans).
  • I’ve also found mini fish nets to be a hit—kids love collecting things!

Bag #2: Dry Items

Nothing is guaranteed safe from wetness at the pool, but we try our best. One bag for be specifically for the dry clothes and items like your phone. But bring plastic bags for wet clothing/towels in case you need to put wet items into this bag when leaving.

Item: Towels
My Suggestion: Hooded towels.
You may have toddler-sized hooded towels for bath time, but I prefer them even for the pool. My kids like them and they stay on well. 

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Item: Shoes
My Suggestion: Croc-style shoes.
Pavement and concrete get HOT. Kids are in and out of the water. Jake is out as much as he is in, so I make sure he has shoes that stay on his feet well, have good traction, but can also be wet. Both of my kids are too young to tolerate the standard flip-flop/thong between their toe-style sandals at this point.

Item: Dry clothes
My Suggestion: Bring extra!
I like to have two extra sets of clothes. You just never know what might happen. Dresses for Lou because they are so simple and shorts & shirt for Jake. Making sure they are comfortable for the drive home is key because mine always fall asleep. Also, have a plastic bag for the wet stuff at the end of the day. (Just use a plastic grocery bag–we all have a zillion anyway!) 

Item: Purse essentials
My suggestion: Cash & phone
Leave your purse so it’s one less thing to carry. Put some cash (or your card if you think you’ll need it) in a safe place in your dry bag and take your phone. 

Bag #3 Food & Drinks

I list this bag separately because you may bring a cooler to ice items or, in my case, I know this bag will get torn through by both myself and kids at different points, so I don’t want to be digging among other things for snacks. Most pools probably sell food, but I like having my own. It saves trips to the concessions as well as money. And swimming makes kids hungry–trust me!

Item: Drinks
My Suggestion: Water
Being out in the sun, you and your kids need continued hydration. Fruit drinks and soda may seem more fun, but you need to get the water.

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Item: Lunch
My Suggestion: Peanut butter & jelly.
This sounds so simple because it is! You can whip up several before leaving the house but they are just filling enough while being light enough to really hit the spot in the hot sun.

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Item: Fruit
My Suggestion: Watermelon
This especially helps if you have trouble getting your kids to drink water. Any fruit is nice at the pool, but you can load a plastic container with watermelon and have an easy, refreshing snack that lasts awhile.

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Item: Snacks
My Suggestion: Serving-size dry snacks
I won’t give exact suggestions because you know your kids and I don’t. Having single-serving size things is helpful because toddlers can get unplanned things wet and if something were to happen, only a small amount of a particular snack gets ruined, not an entire bag. You can always prepare plastic baggies at home if you like don’t want the added expense of snack-sized servings.

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