In the spirit of telling you about products, we don’t think you need (adding to Heather‘s original series) so you can reduce your consumption and at the risk of upsetting those that find such items invaluable (like nursing bras), we wonder…do you really need swim diapers?
As the springtime weather warms, more and more readers are coming to Eco Child’s Play from swim diaper Google searches. Although Kristen did review reusable swim diapers in the past, this is one baby item that I have never purchased or used. My experiences may be different, as most of our early swim time occurred at the river or in private pools, but my cloth diapered babes never wore anything when they swam.
Does a swim diaper really prevent urine and fecal matter from entering pools? Kristen Chase wrote:
Truth be told, disposable swim diapers are more for easing our minds and less about containing bodily fluids and bowel movements. Basically, they just don’t contain all the chemicals that regular disposables do, therefore keeping them trim and less saggy when they hit water. But, they certainly don’t hold urine well. And, while they might hold a bowel movement for a good five minutes, you do not want your kid swimming around with a swim diaper full of poop.
Urine is relatively benign, and with the number of chemicals in a pool, I don’t worry about a little baby pee spoiling the water. Feces may be a different matter, but in my experience, my children never ever went poo in a pool or the river. On the beach, yes, but in the water, never. Even if they had, I doubt a swim diaper would have prevented little bits of contamination any better than the bathing suit that would hold the turds in just as well.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offer the following:
The use of swim diapers and swim pants may give many parents and pool staff a false sense of security regarding fecal contamination.
Little scientific information exists on how well swim diapers and swim pants are able to keep feces or infection-causing germs from leaking into the pool. Even though swim diapers and swim pants may hold in some feces, they are not leak proof and can still contaminate the pool water. It is unlikely that swim diapers are able to keep diarrheal stools, the most serious water contaminant, from leaking into the pool. No manufacturers claim these products prevent leakage of diarrhea into pools.
Parents should not allow their children enter the water when they are ill with diarrhea, even if they are wearing swim diapers or swim pants. They risk contaminating the pool and making other children sick.
Swim diapers and swim pants are not a substitute for frequent diaper changing. It is recommended that parents change their children often and make frequent trips to the toilet while swimming.
Pool operators should try and make sure that parents:
- Understand the importance of NOT swimming when ill with diarrhea.https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming/swimmers/swim-diapers-swim-pants.html
- Plan regular and frequent (approximately every 30 to 60 minutes) diaper changing or trips to the toilet. This will reduce the chance of fecal contamination and can also reduce the amount of urine in the pool that binds with disinfectant and creates irritants in the air (see Irritants (Chloramines) & Indoor Pool Air Quality).
I think swim diapers are an extra expense that doesn’t really serve many purposes. They get soggy and leaching occurs. My children learned quickly not to soil their bathing suit, even at a tender young age, or when they were swimming naked didn’t soil the water. There may be some rules necessitating swim diapers at baby swim classes, but for regular water play, I just never found the need.
I think they do serve some purpose, but I also think it’s correct that we over-value them. They may allow SOME leakage of fecal matter, but that’s different than a whole BM just squirting straight into the water unhindered. Many older kids and adults might (unknowingly) have small amounts of, um, ‘skid marks’ on our butts when we get into a pool. That’s what the sanitizing chemicals are for (or even better, salt water pools if one is available near you!)
Especially when babies are quite young, and breastfed, their poos will be quite runny and frequent. In my experience with my son, the swim diapers did just fine holding messes in, though it’s true they were rare.
With my daughter, we did EC, so we didn’t use diapers in the first place, much less in the swimming pool. I was worried we’d get kicked out of the wading pool, but the lifeguard didn’t even seem to notice. If he had asked, I was planning to just tell him she was toilet-trained so didn’t need one.
I agree that swim diapers are not necessary, however they are required at all wading pools, fountains and public swimming pools in my area (Seattle) and the lifeguards do ask you to leave if you don’t have them. Its irritating since they may not even be serving a purpose! I often used a (cloth) diaper wrap with nothing inside as a swim diaper. It seem like it would catch any significant solids and was really easy to deal with later.
Thanks for this, Ruthie! I’m in Seattle too and start lessons today. Have been searching the internets trying to find what people do, and I think I’ll go with just a diaper cover on her, like you suggest. Only problem is she’s still exclusively breastfed and poo is runny still. And it’s been a while since she’s gone. Oh well, we’ll see what happens!
Sure, if everyone had access to private pools and rivers, life would be great! However, some city dwellers like myself rely on the openness of public facilities, and it’s really disrespectful to others to say “Hey! A little poop doesn’t bother me, so it shouldn’t bother you other patrons either.” Sure, we all know that pee or poop could be in the water regardless. But it *does* bother other people, and they have as much right to that feeling as we do to the laissez faire feeling that hits folks as they become accustomed to many, many previously-seen-as-horrifyingly-grody things in the world of babes. I think it’s only fair that we try to be respectful of that, as, admittedly, the idea of swimming in poop is universally grody. Hah.
Yeah, swim diapers certainly don’t catch everything. But, as a mother of three kids, all of whom seem to LIKE to poop while in the water sometimes, I do know that they catch a great deal more than they leak. The idea that my kid would just let loose in a public pool is horrifying in a way, (because truly, it would be about on par with the Baby Ruth scene in The Sandlot). A cloth diaper wrap will suffice just fine, and will hold much more than a disposable would. While it’s cute to see a naked baby bottom anytime, quite frankly, it’s wildly disrespectful to allow that same cute bottom free range in a public pool. (Or even a private pool if you’re not absolutely certain the pool owners are fine with it). And as for a river or stream? There’s reasons you don’t eliminate in those places while camping. Same goes for your little one. Baby poop is not less bacteria laden than adult poop.
Jilynn Bradshaw says
I reuse swim diapers! As long as they didn’t poop in them you can set them out to dry and then use them again. I usually only do this a couple of times and then get a new one.
I just let my boy swim naked. We ECed anyway, so it was pretty easy overall.
Baby Goods says
What an amazing discussion in the above lines , truly in a great confusion that should i vote for using swim diapers for babies or should i go against it. Okz let me take a side , in running water let your babies swim naked and if you are guest then use that swimming diaper for your baby.
What do you recommend for a six year old who has been potty trained and without any accidents in 3 years. However within 20-50 minutes of entering the pool, she seems to get the runs and we leave the pool immediately to find the bathroom. It happens at the public pool only, but not at the pool where she is taking swimming lessons twice a week. Any advise?
Jennifer Lance says
@Marina Do you go to the bathroom before she enters the pool? Since it occurs at only one pool, do you think it has to do with nerves there? Or is there something in the pool (chemicals) or the environment that may be affecting her? I don’t have advice other than to avoid that pool.
I think swim diapers are not useful only swim suits with nappies are some bit purposive.
Jennifer, I asked the swim instructor and she asked the same question about the quality of the public pool. I then spoke to the public pool mgr and they were so kind and have now instructed the staff to do extra testing of the water at the public pool each day. They used to test at noon and at 4pm, now they added a 3rd time and will check also at 6pm, since it seemed to be happening betw. 6pm and 8pm only. We are also working on my daughters swimming and will keep an extra eye on her so that she doesn’t swallow any water! We went again last night and had a great time with no need to find a bathroom.
My condo told me that my daughter who wears swim diapers can’t come swimming because of the posible fecus crap. First It’s I would never take my child swimming is she had diahrea . So many people in gereral pee in the water because they are to lazy to get out. Anyways I would feel more safe seeing a kid wearing an infant swim diaper because what it will come down to is people will start lying and saying their kid is potty trainned even thought they aren’t and some may not have even strarted learning because of this. If it’s so unsanitarty why do so many people swim at the YMCA for example anbd they have tos of swim diaper kids there.
Sunsational Swim says
Yes, swim diapers are very necessary. Normal diapers fill up with water and weigh a child down and are just not made to be used in the water.
Yeah, I say they should wear some kind of swim diaper. It at least keeps it from letting all of the poop in the pool. I was at a pool last summer and some kid pooped in the pool. Gross! But on top of the gross poop just being in the pool, Everyone had to get out of the pool until the following day.
Hampton Swim School says
Swim diapers have come along way in the last few years and the reusable ones are compulsory in all pools and lessons these days. The disposable ones don’t tend to do much but are great for those one off’s