Pool Checklist: What to Pack in Your Pool Bag

Use this pool checklist to remember all the essentials for a family swim.

Pool checklist - remember the goggles
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Lists are a parent's best friend, and this pool checklist is no exception. I can't tell you how many times I've searched my pool bag in vain (dumping out the contents all over the locker room, ick!), and then had to shell out two dollars for an emergency swim diaper. Or dried off my kids in the pool's locker room only to realize I didn't pack any clean underwear or dry clothes for them to wear home.

Now I always review the pool checklist before we head out the door. Just as important: Remember to restock the bag when you get home so you'll be ready for next time.

Don't-Forget Pool Checklist for Families

  • Swimsuits
  • Swim diapers
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses and/or hats
  • Towels, if not provided at pool
  • Swimsuit cover-ups
  • Goggles
  • Pool toys, if allowed at your pool
  • Flip-flops or water shoes
  • Clean underwear and/or diapers
  • Plastic bags for wet items
  • Shampoo
  • Combs
  • Padlock or quarters for locker
  • Water for everyone
  • Change/cash for vending machines/snack bar
  • (or better yet—pack your own healthy snacks)

Pool Safety Musts

If your pool allows flotation aids or life jackets for young children, add those to your pool checklist. But remember that they are not a substitute for close, careful supervision. Nor are they the same as a good series of swim lessons with a capable instructor.

Most important of all: For safety, make sure you and your children know and follow these swimming pool rules.

Make Swimming More Fun

It's no surprise that kids who grow up to love swimming spend lots of time in the pool, starting when they're very young. Even if swimming is far from your favorite sport, just splashing around in the water together is a good way to help your child enjoy swimming.

At around age 4, most kids are developmentally ready to learn swimming strokes.

But plenty of playtime in the water is what they'll enjoy most. Stock up on goggles and scope out swimming spots with warm water and fun features, like fountains or sprayers. All of these can help kids relax and enjoy their splash time. It's also important to avoid pushing kids into skills they aren't ready for. This can zap their motivation and can even be dangerous.

That's true as kids get older, too. If they're interested in competitive swimming, try a low-key league first. (You can often find these at community pools or swim clubs.) Frame it as a social activity—a way to have fun with friends in the pool on hot days. If your child enjoys the team camaraderie, or simply has a strong competitive drive, then you can move on to a more competitive or challenging team.

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