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Understanding Swim Diapers for Kids: Best Options and How They Work

If you’ve ever thought about taking your baby to the pool, beach, lake, or water park, you might be wondering how to avoid possible accidents or discomfort in water. That’s where swim diapers come in! To help you understand what swim diapers do, how they work, and their benefits, we created this guide, so your little one will always be ready to make some waves.

What are Swim Diapers?

Swim diapers, also known as swim pants, are diapers specifically designed to be worn in water. Unlike regular diapers, they do not absorb liquid and expand, leading to a soggy, bulky, unsanitary mess from feces that can leak out. Plus, swim diapers are usually much easier to put on and remove when wet.

A baby wearing a swim diaper during swimming lessons

How do Swim Diapers Work?

Swimming diapers are intended to be non-absorbent, which allows urine to pass through, while solids remain properly contained using the leak guards. As a result, bathroom accidents and discomfort can be avoided. Outfitting your child in swimming diapers is key to maintaining hygiene, especially at the pool, as well as preventing the spread of E. coli and other dangerous bacteria.

Types of Swim Diapers

Swim diapers are primarily offered in two types: disposable and reusable. Some public pools require one variant rather than the other, so be sure to check the type of swimming diaper your child will need before heading out the door. Fortunately, both types are sold in stores, including Target and Walmart, and online.


Disposable swim diapers are typically more affordable than reusable options, but they must be thrown away as soon as they are soiled, which makes them less eco-friendly than their counterpart.


Even though reusable swim diapers can be worn multiple times after getting washed, they still need to be cleaned and changed out if they get soiled. Additionally, some children love that reusable swimming diapers are often offered in fun colors or patterns, making trips to the pool or beach that much more fun!

It’s important to note that both disposable and reusable swim pants do not soak up urine, but the latter does a better job of containing and preventing the spread of feces, which is why many caregivers tend to double up with a disposable swim diaper under the reusable one. Doubling up can also make the clean up process easier. If solid stool is present, the disposable swim diaper can simply be tossed, leaving the reusable one to be cleaned without worrying about the stool contaminating their wash spot.

Remember, if your child has loose stools, swim diapers will be unable to contain their bowel movements, causing leaks, so it is better to fully avoid the water until they are feeling well again.

A swim instructor lifts a baby out of the pool

Benefits of Using Swim Diapers

One of the main advantages to swimming diapers is their ability to preserve hygiene among public and private pools. By containing solid feces, harmful bacteria and germs are significantly less likely to spread in the water, ensuring your child and others remain healthy and safe. Plus, if your child’s bowel movements cannot escape the swim diaper, public pools are less likely to shut down for deep cleaning, which is a big win for everyone!

Additionally, swim diapers are comfortable for young children, as they splash and float in the water. Since these diapers do not retain water and swell, your child will not be weighed down by the soggy material and are less likely to experience skin irritation. Diapers specifically designed for swimming allow for ease of movement, without dragging your child down.

Of course, parents also love that they can finally combine swimming and diapers together for the peace of mind, convenience, and economical benefits. Swim diapers often ease many parents’ worries that an accident might seep into the pool, thanks to the handy leak guards. At the same time, swim diapers are easy to throw on and off, even if you decide to use both types, all while saving you money.

A mom holds her baby in the pool, smiling at each other

Choosing the Best Swim Diapers

There are a few different factors to consider, when selecting the best swim diapers for your little one, including fit, absorbency, material, and brand reputation. Swimming diapers are offered in a variety of sizes, based on your child’s measurements and age range. They can be made from different fabrics, such as polyester, nylon, or cotton, to minimize absorbency and remain comfortable for your child.

If you’re considering disposable swim pants for your little one, Pampers and Huggies are top brands, with plenty of size options. They frequently have tear-off sides for removal but are not quite as easy to pull on. If your family spends significant time around water, though, it might be worthwhile to invest in reusable swim diapers from popular brands, like Charlie Banana, Splash About, Green Sprouts, or Nora’s Nursery. Depending on your child’s preferences, determine which type of snaps, elastic, or adjustable waist and leg features are most comfortable.

Quick Tips for Using Swim Diapers

  • To ensure proper fit, swimming diapers should be snug enough that they don’t slide or sag down in the water, but not too tight that they leave red marks or chafe. You can often determine the best size based on your child's weight.
  • Swim diapers should be changed as soon as they are soiled. Make sure you check your child’s swim diaper every 30-60 minutes, so you know when to immediately change it away from the water.
  • Disposable swim diapers can be rolled up and discarded the same way as regular disposable diapers.
  • For reusable swim diapers, you can roll and bag them up when soiled, and take them home to hand wash or throw in the washing machine, depending on the brand’s care instructions.

Swim Diapers and Swimming Lessons

Swim diapers are crucial for your baby or toddler to wear during swimming lessons or at public pools, since they help ensure the water stays ultra-clean and hygienic for all swimmers. That’s why many swim schools and public pools require children, who are not potty trained, to wear at least one type of swim diaper, while swimming.

At Big Blue Swim School, we require all children not completely potty trained to wear a reusable swim diaper over a disposable swim diaper during every lesson, as extra preventative measures for accidents in the pool. After all, the safety and health of our families is a #1 priority for us, and swim pants are a big help in keeping our facilities sparkling clean.

Smiling child and instructor in the pool


Do swim diapers hold urine?

No, swim diapers do not hold urine, since they are meant to be non-absorbent, which prevents them from ballooning and growing uncomfortable to wear.

At what age should my child start using swim diapers?

Every child is different, with many unique needs, but if they are not fully potty trained at the time you take them swimming or hang out at the pool, they should wear swim diapers.

Can I use regular diapers, instead of swim diapers?

No, regular diapers are not a suitable replacement for swimming diapers. Even if you put a reusable swim diaper over a regular diaper, water will quickly reach the regular diaper, causing it to expand and leak, leading to discomfort for your child.

How do I know if the swim diaper fits properly?

Similar to bathing suits, swim diapers should be snug, but not tight enough to cut off circulation. You should not find red marks or chafing on your child’s skin.

How often should swim diapers be changed?

Swim diapers must be changed immediately following a bowel movement, so you can prevent any signs of leaks and discomfort.

Are reusable swim diapers better than disposable ones?

Depending on your family’s habits, one option is not necessarily better than the other. For example, if your family does not spend much time in the water, a disposable swim diaper might get you by, but if your family regularly goes swimming, reusable swim diapers are more likely to fit your needs.

Start of a Baby Blue swim lesson

If you’re thinking about giving your little one a head start in water safety and learning skills that will last them a lifetime, we have you covered, here at Big Blue Swim School. From all the basic swim lesson essentials you might need to enrolling in a time that works best for you, we’re always by your side and in your lane!