Last summer, my toddler was a baby, and pool bags looked slightly different! We also lived in an apartment complex with a private pool, so we didn’t need to think too hard about what to bring. We mostly threw whatever we needed in the basket of our stroller.

Now that we moved to the suburbs and we became members at the town pool, I had to figure out what to take along in our “pool version of a diaper bag” to account for all types of situations. There’s changing, snacking, drying off, diaper changes and playing.

I scoured the internet for what to pack for my toddler when we go to the pool, and I think I’ve covered all the bases. See what I take along, and how I pack my toddler’s pool bag for a day of swim.

What to pack in your toddler’s pool bag

I’m dividing the “what to pack” checklist into five parts…

  • Sun protection
  • Swimming and playing
  • Drying off and changing
  • Diapers
  • Snacking and drinking

Sun protection

Sunny days at the pool are best matched with child-safe sunscreen, sunglasses and a sun hat! I’ve started using a spray sunscreen (in SPF 50+) because it’s less oily, and goes on fast. Some families may prefer the solid type because it’s less prone to leaking.

Here’s a checklist for toddler sun protection at the pool:

Swimming and playing

Now we’re ready to swim. There are a few things we take along that aren’t going to fit in our pool bag, and that’s just a fact of life! When I take my stroller out of the trunk, I pack my toddler’s pool toys and just throw them in!

For swimming, don’t forget a swimsuit (to change into if you left the house in real clothes) and a trusty swim diaper.


Thank you Nike for gifting us the Nike Sunray Protect 2 Baby/Toddler Sandals in order to review them here; all opinions are our own.

Drying off and changing

For drying off, I pack a fresh towel (a fun one), a new outfit and a fresh diaper. Some other things to include might be (depending on your child’s hair), a hair comb, detangler or after-sun lotion.


One convenient thing about the bag I use is that it has a wet and dirty compartment at the bottom, where I can put a wet swimsuit or clothes without having to bag it up. It’s a plus if you find a pool bag that has this sort of feature.


I take along several diapers (enough so that if I forget to restock, it’ll still be fine for another day). I also pack a swim diaper or two. For these, I’m taking along the Getaway Bag’s Sidekick fanny, a fanny pack and belt bag with a changing pad included. It packs into my travel diaper bag in the top “slot” among the organizers.

If I want to go use the pool restroom for a more “private” diaper change, I can take this belt bag with all the diapering essentials, rather than an entire pool bag.

Here’s the checklist:

  • 5-6 diapers
  • Wipes
  • Changing pad
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Diaper balm or cream

Snacking and drinking

The last part of what to take to the pool when you have a toddler is—of course—snacks and drinks. My toddler usually wants to eat before we even go in the water, and when we get out, I suggest drinking water to rehydrate after the sun.

Here are some checklist suggestions…

What kind of pool bag to use for a toddler

I see a lot of families come to the pool with big beach totes and carry-alls. I’m more of a backpack person, to be honest. It’s enough that things spill out of totes here and there in our car, so to contain all my child’s things in one go, I choose an expert-level diaper backpack.

I recently started trying out the No Reception Club diaper bag, and it’s a travel diaper bag made for all sorts of situations and every organizational need I can think of. I’ll be using that bag as a pool bag in this article, as I list out how I pack it!

To see more on the bag, check out No Reception Getaway Bag review at Half Half Travel.

What should you take for baby swim lessons?

There are a few other things to pack for swim lessons, as it’s a different activity to do at the pool (you probably won’t be using that fishing toy I recommend above!).

A few swim lesson items to pack for your toddler’s pool bag are:

  • Toddler goggles!
  • A swim cap (if required)
  • Coins for lockers at the pool (if needed) or a lock for lockers
  • Flip flops or pool shoes