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Headed to the pool or lake with your little one? Decided to give baby swim lessons a try? Whatever the reason, if you’re spending time in any body of water with your baby, you’ll want to be prepared!

First and foremost, make sure you’re familiar with the American Academy of Pediatrics’ swim safety tips. Then, make sure to pack the right gear for fun in the sun with baby.

In addition to some sunscreen and a towel, your baby is going to need — and we mean need — something to contain the inevitable poop.

If you’ve never heard of a swim diaper and are considering putting your baby in the water in their regular diaper… well, you might want to keep reading.

If your child is not yet potty-trained, the answer is: Yes!

Regular diapers are not meant to be worn for swimming — they’re designed to absorb liquids. A regular diaper will quickly become waterlogged when submerged. This means it won’t be able to absorb additional liquids (read: pee). And the extra weight is likely to make them fall off your baby’s body!

For the health and safety of your fellow swimmers (and to avoid some serious potential embarrassment), you’ll want to make sure to use a swim diaper if your baby is going in water.

There are two main types of swim diapers: reusable and disposable.

Reusable diapers

These can be used again and again with just a trip through the laundry machine between swims, making them eco-friendly.

They’re a great option for those with a pool or who take their little one to weekly swim lessons.

They have a higher upfront cost and don’t contribute to landfill waste. But, if you don’t swim often, you may not get enough use to warrant the moderate cost.

Disposable diapers

These are generally easier to put on and more affordable (though it depends on the amount of swimming you plan to do, as constantly replenishing could exceed the cost of a reusable diaper).

However, they’re often less mess-resistant, as the fit isn’t as customizable as that of reusable options.

Disposable diapers work best for those who don’t intend to swim often, or who vacation where they’ll spend a lot of time in water but won’t have time to wash and dry swim diapers between uses.

While regular diapers are designed to absorb liquids, swim diapers are made to withstand water while containing solids. We know what you’re thinking, and yep, this means that their pee is likely going to pass through a swim diaper into the water.

However, the goal of swim diapers is to keep poop inside, since the germs from poop in a pool are what public pools and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) fear most! They’re designed to contain solids but let liquids pass.

That said, swim diapers aren’t necessarily designed to contain diarrhea or liquidy newborn poop. So, very young babies and children with diarrhea should not swim in public bodies of water — even with a swim diaper.

That said, teens, adults, or anyone else with diarrhea shouldn’t swim in public pools. Cryptosporidium or “crypto,” a germ that causes diarrhea, can spread through water and even survive chlorine, according to the CDC. If you have crypto, you shouldn’t go into pools for 2 weeks.

Bathtubs and kiddie pools are a great way to introduce your newborn to water without potentially infecting the community pool!

When weeding through both reusable and disposable swim diaper options to bring you the best, we considered things like price, availability, fit, and design. And, of course, one of the biggest things we considered is what fellow parents had to say!

Pricing guide

Note that some of the options below are reusable, while others are disposable, so pricing isn’t exactly apples to apples.

If you plan on swimming with your little one often, paying a little more for reusable swim diapers might actually save you money in the long run!

  • $ = disposable (under $2 per diaper)
  • $$ = reusable ($15–$20 per diaper)

Best overall swim diapers

Beau & Belle Littles Nageuret Reusable Swim Diaper

  • Price: $$
  • Sizes available: One size fits newborn to size 5 (6 -35 pounds).

Looking to reduce your carbon footprint without having to worry about buying a bunch of different sizes of reusable swim diapers? The Nageuret stands out from the rest thanks to its adjustability. This laundry-friendly diaper accommodates kids anywhere from 6 to 35 pounds.

Well-placed snaps allow for multiple sizes around the waist and legs as well as three different height options.

Parents praise the adjustability of these diapers and say they live up to the poop-trapping hype.

Buying a reusable diaper with this size versatility means it’s a one-and-done purchase.

Beau and Belle Littles is a small family business that donates 5 percent of their yearly sales to charity. They also offer a 1-year guarantee where you get not only the cost of the diaper back, but also a new one if you’d like to try the brand again.

These reusable diapers are a great choice for anyone who plans to take their baby to the pool or beach frequently. They’re also a good choice for parents who enjoy supporting small businesses and value sustainability, as children can grow with this product.

Pros

  • The diaper has easy-lock snaps on both sides to make putting it on and taking it off easier.
  • The adjustability and wide size range mean this diaper can be used for several years.
  • The company offers a 1-year guarantee.
  • This diaper is machine-washable.

Cons

  • These diapers can take a while to dry out after being washed.
  • The pre-set snap sizing runs small, according to reviewers.

Best swim diapers with fun patterns

green sprouts Snap Reusable Absorbent Swim Diaper

  • Price: $$
  • Sizes available: options from 6 months to 4T

If you’re looking for a swim diaper that’s functional and fun, this is a good option.

The eco-friendly brand green sprouts offers a ton of fun designs for their diapers, and even makes swimsuits with a built-in swim diaper.

This is a great diaper for fashion-forward parents and kids. The designs range from solid, plain colors, to stripes, ocean scenes, and more. You’ll even find some with ruffles.

Plus, they’re reusable, so you can feel good about not creating as much waste each time you and your kid hit the pool or beach.

Parents say these are good at trapping poop, but that they run rather small. And because they only snap open on one side, getting a super snug, poo-filled diaper off can be tricky.

Pros

  • The wide range of designs means you’ll find something that’s cute and matches their swimsuit, if that’s a priority.
  • The diapers are reusable and machine-washable, so you’ll produce less waste headed to the landfill.
  • The three-layer design helps hold in poop.

Cons

  • They only snap on one side, which can make cleaning up poop tricky and messy.
  • Parents have noted that the sizing runs on the smaller side.

Best disposable swim diapers

Huggies Little Swimmers Disposable Swimpants

  • Price: $ (pack of 12)
  • Sizes available: options for newborns to size 5/6 (7-33+ pounds)

Affordable and convenient, these swim diapers from Huggies tick many parents’ boxes. They have easy-open sides to make taking care of poop easier than pull-up style swim diapers. And the reclosable side tabs help with adjustments to ensure the diaper fits well on your little one.

Fans of these diapers say they offer a snug, secure fit. A few reviewers recommend basing your size selection on your child’s regular diaper size rather than their weight.

These could be a great choice for parents who already use Huggies diapers for their kids, or who need to quickly pick up a swim diaper at the store.

Pros

  • These Huggies diapers are a budget-friendly option.
  • The diapers’ tear-away sides are adjustable to help with getting a good fit.
  • You’ll find these at many stores, making them easier to track down while you’re on vacation.

Cons

  • The sizing can run small.
  • The diapers may be hard to take off when wet.

Best adjustable swim diapers

Thirsties Reusable Swim Diaper

  • Price: $$
  • Sizes available: three sizes available (fits 6-55+ pounds)

If you’re trying to get the perfect fit, Thirsties’ reusable swim diapers have ample adjustability.

These diapers have three rise options and hip snaps to help prevent drooping. The diaper has snaps across the front, so you’ll be able to expand or shrink it to fit a range of sizes. The diapers also have a soft mesh interior for comfort.

Reviewers say these tend to run on the smaller side.

While snaps are great at sticking together, they’re not quite as customizable as Velcro.

Customers love that the snaps that cover the front of this diaper offer a wide range of sizes and customizability when it comes to fit.

Pros

  • Snaps across the front of the diaper give you adjustability in terms of sizing.
  • The diaper has three potential rises.
  • The biggest diaper size fits all the way up to 55+ pounds.

Cons

  • These diapers tend to run on the small side.
  • The snaps don’t offer sizing that’s as customizable as that of velcro options.

Best budget-friendly swim diapers

Pampers Splashers Disposable Swim Pants

  • Price: $ (pack of 20)
  • Sizes available: three sizes available (fits 13-40 pounds)

Two things we love about Pampers Splashers: the price tag and the ease of taking them off.

Not only are these budget-friendly diapers disposable, but they also feature tear-off sides to make it even easier to get your little one out of them after a dip in the pool. These could be a great choice for parents looking to prioritize convenience and affordability.

Downsides? Getting these pull-up style diapers on can be a lot more work than getting them off — and once they’re ripped off, there’s no putting them back on. They’re also not adjustable, which means you’ll have to be more reliant on the manufacturer’s sizing guide.

Pros

  • These diapers are budget-friendly.
  • These are sold in a lot of stores and should be easier to find while on vacation.
  • The diapers are easy to remove thanks to their tear-off sides.

Cons

  • These diapers aren’t adjustable.
  • Getting these diapers on can feel like a workout.

Diaper CostDisposable/reusableSizes
Beau & Belle Littles Nageuret Reusable Swim Diaper$$ReusableNewborn-size 5 (6-35 pounds)
green sprouts Snap Reusable Absorbent Swim Diaper$$Reusable6 months-4T
Huggies Little Swimmers Disposable Swimpants$ (pack of 12)DisposableNewborn-size 5/6 (7-33+ pounds)
Thirsties Reusable Swim Diaper$$ReusableThree sizes available (ranging from 6-55+ pounds)
Babyganics Color Changing Disposable Swim Pants$ (pack of 10 or 12 depending on size)Disposable16-32+ pounds
$ (pack of 20)DisposableThree sizes available (fits 13-40 pounds)

When deciding on the perfect swim diaper for your family, you’ll want to consider things like:

Disposable or reusable?

Disposable diapers are fairly cheap and offer a lot of convenience. However, they’re not always as adjustable as reusable options and are definitely not as eco-friendly.

Many parents find they’re able to get a better fit with reusable diapers, but reusable diapers are more expensive — especially if your little one is growing quickly or you’re only an occasional pool-going family.

Reusable diapers are a lot more work to clean. And, if you opt for reusable diapers and intend to spend long days at the pool or beach, you’ll need several diapers throughout the day.

Fit

Since the goal of swim diapers is to make sure that all the poop is contained, you’ll want them to fit a little tighter than regular diapers. Be sure to read the manufacturer’s sizing recommendations.

If you pop a swim diaper on your babe while they’re in the house, don’t expect it to do the job of a regular diaper! Keep your little one in their regular diaper until it’s time to swim.

If you’re using a disposable swim diaper, you’ll want to quickly change them into a regular diaper as soon as they’re out of the water.

Reusable swim diapers sometimes offer the option to purchase inserts for the diaper when your baby is on dry land, but you might want something dry on hand.

How often should you change the swim diaper?

The CDC recommends checking swim diapers frequently — about every 60 minutes. If you suspect a change is coming, you’ll want to head for a bathroom so you can wash your hands afterwards.

If you believe your child may have pooped, the diaper should be immediately checked and removed.

Will swim diapers cause a rash?

In general, swim diapers themselves should not cause rashes. But, a swim diaper that’s too tight could cause chafing or irritate the skin.

Leaving a child in a wet diaper for too long can also irritate sensitive skin. But this should be largely avoidable given swim diapers should be checked and changed frequently (immediately, if a poop occurs).

How should I properly use a swim diaper for my baby?

A swim diaper should fit without gaps around the waist and leg openings. Because these diapers aren’t designed to hold urine, you’ll want to change your little one into one right before heading into the water. You’ll also want to check and change it frequently while swimming.

Do you put a regular diaper under a swim diaper?

No. Regular diapers are not meant to be worn while swimming. Typical diapers are designed to absorb liquids and, as such, would quickly become waterlogged when submerged.

The absorption of pool or ocean water will mean the diaper can’t take on any additional liquids (aka pee). In addition, the extra weight may make the diaper fall off your little one’s body. In other words: Don’t let your kid swim in a nonswim diaper.

Poop in the pool is the stuff of parental nightmares!

Since regular diapers can’t help to prevent it from happening, you’ll want to invest in some swim diapers before you and your little one take the plunge.

The CDC and your fellow swimmers will thank you!