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What Is A Swim Diaper (+ How Does It Work)?


illustration of a swim diaper

Swim diapers are designed for babies and toddlers at the pool, beach, or other public water activity. Unlike regular diapers, swim diapers are non-absorbent. This means they allow water to flow through them and do not swell when they come in contact with liquid.


Can Babies Swim In Regular Diapers?


Regular diapers create a balloon butt if submerged in water. Balloon butt is a term used to describe a diaper full of water. Balloon butt is different from a diaper full of urine, because pee typically collects in between baby’s legs in the bottom of the diaper. When a diaper is submerged in water it expands in all directions. This means even the back of the diaper becomes full, mimicking a balloon shape.


Eventually, an overextended diaper will burst. When it does, the little gel-like balls from inside the diaper spread everywhere and are a little difficult to clean up. Regular diapers can also weigh baby down in the water, limiting their mobility, and creating a potentially dangerous situation. As a result, most facilities require little ones to wear swim diapers.


Can Babies Swim Diaper-Less?


We totally understand you may want your little one to experience the freedom of swimming unclothed. Bath time or your own personal pool may be a better time to do this. Most shared facilities will require some kind of bottom covering for hygienic reasons. Using a swim diaper is one way to ensure public water stays free of fecal matter (aka poop).


Are There Any Swim Diapers That Hold Pee?


No! Swim diapers are designed to not hold any liquid (including pee). Instead they are made to trap solids. This means that if your little one poops, it should remain inside the diaper instead of spilling out.


Swim Diaper vs a Regular Swim Diaper Illustration

Can You Put A Regular Diaper Under A Swim Diaper?


No! The regular diaper will eventually burst. The only time you may want to put a regular diaper under a swim diaper is when you are getting your little one dressed. You may need to travel to the pool, beach, sprinklers, or whatever water activity you are doing. Once you arrive, you should remove the regular diaper.


Can You Use Swim Diapers Instead of Regular Diapers?


Swim diapers do not function the same way as regular diapers. Since swim diapers do not hold liquid, urine will go straight through them. This means that if you forget to change your baby after swimming and hold them, put them into a car seat, or stroller, they may have an accident.


Do Swim Diapers Hold Runny Poop?


Swim diapers are designed to hold solid waste, so they may not be as effective at containing runny poop.


Can Newborns Wear Swim Diapers?


The umbilical cord site can take weeks to heal and should not be submerged in pool water. As a result, most swim schools don't start accepting infants until around 3 to 6 months old.


What's The Smallest Swim Diaper?


Pampers (a disposable brand) makes a swim diaper for little ones starting around 7 pounds. All babies are built differently, meaning there can be a 7 pound baby with tiny legs that can leave the swim diaper a bit baggy. AlvaBaby (a reusable diaper brand) starts at 10 pounds. We recommend seeing if the diaper brand you currently use also sells swim diapers. That way you'll know how it will fit your little one. Below are sample sizes, but please check the specific brand you are buying from.


Weight (lbs)

Size

7-18

x-small

13- 24

small

20-34

medium

30+

large


Can You Reuse Swim Diapers?


Types of swim diapers infographic

Disposable swim diapers generally can not be reused. Huggies claims that you can refasten the sides of their diapers. In our experience, once a swim diaper has stretched and conformed to our little one's legs, it needs to be thrown out. If it's reused, the fit is loose and solids can seep or float through the gaps.


If your little one needs to use the bathroom, a good swim diaper should easily slide up and down so that you do not have to rip it off.


Another option is a reusable swim diaper. Reusable swim diapers are super cute eco-friendly options that last a couple of years. The problem with reusable swim diapers is finding the perfect fit. Some fit comfortable around the waist but are too snug around the thighs. You'll have to shop around until you find a brand that's right for your baby.


Do You Need To Put Anything On Or In A Swim Diaper?


Your little one can wear a bathing suit over their disposable swim diaper. We think tankinis or any other two-piece swim suit is best because it makes diaper changes and last-minute potty runs easier. For reusable swim diapers, some brands sell disposable liners (for inside the diaper). The liners can be thrown away and make poop-cleanup less messy.


How Expensive Are Swim Diapers?


Swim diaper prices vary per size, diaper count, and brand. Below are average prices per diaper.


  • Disposable ~$0.52 - $0.95

  • Reusable ~$4.50 - $25.00


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