These vintage plastic wading pools from the 50s & 60s are still just as fun for kids today – here’s a splash from the past!

Vintage plastic wading pools from the 50s and 60s

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In the sun-dappled backyards of the mid-20th century, plastic wading pools — both inflatable and ready-formed — emerged as symbols of simple summer fun.

As suburban living gained traction, families sought recreational outlets that matched their lifestyles. Enter the affordable backyard wading pool, offering a respite from the heat.

1955 Doughboy swimming pool - Backyard beach

Post-World War II economic growth gave families more discretionary income, coupled with the desire for at-home leisure activities. The plastic kiddie pool was an easy answer. Not only did it offer a convenient way to cool off, but it also acted as a focal point for family gatherings and neighborhood playdates.

Inflatable kiddie pools — often featuring vibrant colors and patterns ranging from playful fish to iconic 1950s and 60s designs — could be easily set up and stored away. The whiff of freshly-inflated vinyl (remember?) became synonymous with summer, as did the giggles and splashes that ensued.

But it wasn’t just inflatable versions that caught parents’ fancy. Hard plastic wading pools were equally popular. Typically molded in bright colors, these sturdy basins provided endless hours of entertainment, and could double as sandboxes. Their durable construction meant they often lasted through several summers, and their lack of required inflation appealed to those seeking a more straightforward setup.

Vintage 60s wading pool for kids and adults (1965)

While inflatable pools required a pump or some dedicated lung power to bring to life (and vinyl patches for the inevitable pinhole repairs), the non-inflatable counterpart was ready to go with just a simple fill-up from the garden hose. Parents appreciated the ease, while kids just focused on the fun. Bonus: Grown-ups could use these plastic basins to cool their weary feet in the summertime, and they also worked nicely as dog pools and pet bathtubs.

The evolution of backyard pools didn’t stop there. As the 60s (and beyond) rolled around, innovations continued, and the market saw the introduction of more intricate designs and additional features. Yet, the foundational appeal of these simple plastic wading pools — whether inflatable or hard plastic — remained unchanged. 

And perhaps most remarkably, and in spite of the various fancy, yet still inexpensive, kiddie pools available today, there is still a market for the pure, virtually unchanged versions we remember from way back when.

Retro 50s-style yellow blow-up plastic wading pool

Month after month after month… this wading pool stayed outside through sun and storms… withstood roughhouse abuse from healthy youngsters!

Plastic kiddie pool from the 1950s - 1952

Yellow vintage inflatable wading pool for babies & toddlers

Vintage kiddie swimming pools - Inflatables

Vintage kiddie pools: Oceans of fun… right in your own backyard!

The whole family’s getting in the swim this summer with pools and playthings made of wonder-wearing, waterproof KRENE, Sturdily built for fun and action, they inflate quickly and easily … can be compactly folded for easy packing and winter storage.

Krene identifies the amazing, modern-day material made by Bakelite Company, leader in the industry for 43 years. Every step in its making is carefully controlled to ensure high quality, excellent performance.

MORE: Huge old outdoor public swimming pools like these made summertime cool for everyone 100 years ago

LIKE DUCKS TAKE TO WATER! No wonder water playthings made of KRENE are popular as summer itself with boys and girls… even grown-ups!

In sunny colors and bright, imaginative designs, there’s a variety wide enough to appeal to everybody. Watertight and lasting, they resist ripping, cracking and mildew. Each buoyant, bouncy toy is easily and quickly inflated …so compact when folded, you can take it anywhere!

Jun 7, 1954 Bakelite Krene backyard swimming pools

Vintage Doughboy above-ground swimming pools & water toys (1954)

Doughboy water playmates: Inexpensive fun for the whole family

LOOK! DOUGHBOY’S 12 FT. FAMILY POOL. No digging, no installation costs. Large enough for young and old to swim in clean safe water. 1600 gal. capacity, 2 ft. depth. Valves for water circulation. $100. Other Doughboy “Family” Pools from $50 to $175. [Note: These are 1950s prices.]

Tough and terrific… Doughboy… These giant inflatable beach toys are easy to inflate, deflate, carry. And they last and last, because they’re made of rugged FORTI-PLYED Vinylite two layers thick.

Jun 7, 1954 Doughboy pools and backyard fun

Backyard beach with your own wading pool

They’re happy and safe at home, with a sturdy Doughboy inflatable wading pool. It’s easy to inflate, fill and drain, Illustrated: Deluxe 6 ft, Poot (155 gal., 10-in. depth), $15. Other wading pools from 38 in. to 7 ft. Priced from $3 to $30.

MORE: Retro pool toys: Inflatable animals, rafts & more vintage water fun from the ’60s

Jun 8, 1953 Doughboy backyard pools

Smaller vintage Doughboy inflatable swimming pools


Inflatable plastic toys and pools are built to last season-after-season with Doughboy’s exclusive Forti-Plyed film (two layers of tough plastic, permanently bonded together) and patented heat-sealed seams. Colors and decorations are part of the plastic — won’t wash or fade out.

Smaller vintage Doughboy inflatable swimming pools from the 50s

Little retro ’50s blow-up pool for preschool-age kids

Little blow-up wading pool from the 1950s

MORE: How to be a perfect ’50s housewife: In the kitchen

Air wall baby pool in blue

Also: America’s favorite pool pal & beach buddy: Hampshire’s fabulous Dolphin — weighted bottom makes him float upright, actually makes it look like he’s leaping out of water

Inflatable wading pools for children from the 60s (1)

Inflatable pools by Hampshire (1969)

Inflatable wading pools for children from the 60s (2)

MORE: Vintage pool floats & air mattresses from the ’60s delivered fun in the sun

Vintage vacuum-formed plastic kiddie pools (not inflatable)

Vintage 1960s water toys (4)

1955’s Swim-A-Rama oval pools (15″ deep)

Swim-A-Rama pool in red & the Carousel pool in blue with merry-go-round horses

Plastic kiddie pools from 1969 (1)

Vintage Hampshire vacuum-formed rigid pools and sandboxes (1950s)

Plastic kiddie pools from 1969 (2)


A sturdy, roomy pool youngsters will be content to play in for hours! Tubular steel frame goes together in minutes without screws or bolts. Heavy-duty pool liner lasts for years; nothing to inflate.

Plenty of fun-filled extras, too: four steel “clip-on” corner seats; die-cast aluminum “shower” attaches to any garden hose; decorated “Waikiki” pattern bottom. See this new type pool at your dealers now. Prices begin at $10.00.

1954’s “Miss Universe”, Miriam Stevenson, wearing new 1955 Catalina bathing suit exclusively created for this photo.

Vintage rectangular kiddie pool from 1955

MORE: Vintage above-ground pools like these made swimming & summer water fun affordable

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