Pool Essentials: What to Bring to the Pool


pool essentialsMy daughter is a fish, so spending last summer at home in a kiddie pool was quite a downer. We went all out this year and got a pool pass to the two Ankeny swimming pools. The pass was DEFINITELY worth the purchase, and we have already learned some tips and tricks to a smooth pool visit. Here are our pool essentials

Set up a Base Camp

We have established a general area of the pool that our “base camp” will always be (aka, our towel). This way, I can let my 7-year-old go play about while I use the restroom or read without worry. I have seen some moms at the pool even bring these beach umbrellas or a small sunning shade.

Pack the Essentials

All you *really* need at the pool is a swimsuit. But, certain essentials definitely make the trip more enjoyable. My list of must-have items include SUNSCREEN, towels, water bottle, and a large bag to carry it all.

Pro Tips:

Our pool “Base Camp”
  • I like to bring a YETI cup full of ice and drink the cold water it slowly creates in the summer heat. You will get dehydrated so fast – so drink up!
  • We put sunscreen on before we get into the car so we don’t forget in all of the excitement once we arrive at the pool.
  • I got a SandCloud towel for myself at the pool and LOVE IT! It is a large Turkish towel, which soaks up the same amount of water as a terry cloth towel, but is lighter (and gorgeous). Plus, they have a sustainable mission.
  • Seems like a no-brainer, but bring cheap sandals you can walk around in. That cement gets so hot!

Pool Extras

Our nice-to-have items include goggles, dive toys, a book, crackers/dry snacks, a big sun hat, hair ties, and a change of dry clothes in a dry bag.

Pro Tips: 

  • At first, I froze snickers bars and brought those. No matter what, they were always a melted mess. Instead, we bring animal crackers or goldfish as a quick snack during pool breaks.
  • Check out your pool’s rules for floatation devices. Most pools allow Coast Guard approved life jackets, Personal Flotation Devices (PFD), some swimsuit attached floats, and noodles (when a parent is in arms reach of the child).
  • Dry bags are becoming more popular and cost-efficient. I got one for free for donating blood to Iowa’s LifeServe Blood Center and we use it for phones, keys, and sometimes snacks.

What are your pool essentials? 

Looking for a pool in Des Moines? Check out our Guide to Des Moines Area Pools

Not ready to brave the pool with littles? Check out our Guide to Des Moines Spray Grounds and Wading Pools

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Niki grew up in Earlham, Iowa and now lives with her husband Ryan, daughter Riley, and son Merritt in Johnston. Riley has an observant stare that inspired the Facebook page Riley Is Not Impressed. Niki is an assistant director of public relations, social media at Drake University where she runs the university’s main social media accounts. She is also the director of the world-famous Beautiful Bulldog Contest. She has an Olde English Bulldog named Dexter, but he is ineligible to compete because she already knows he’s the most beautiful bulldog. She serves as President on the Board of Directors for Animal Lifeline of Iowa, which is a special needs, no-kill animal shelter. Niki is a two-time graduate of Drake University with a bachelor’s in journalism (2008) and a Master’s in Communication Leadership (2015).


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