Best Swim Diapers
If you have a pool or are close to the beach this summer, you’ll need some swim diapers so your kid doesn’t fill the pool with doodies.
Swim diapers are special because they don’t contain water crystals (sodium polyacrylate) like their regular ‘sposie counterparts and therefore, do not absorb liquid. If they did, they’d puff up immediately (like regular diapers) once they hit the water and lose their “containment” power.
Yes, my friends, the sole purpose of a swim diaper is to contain poop and prevent all the nastiness that comes with it. Contrary to what you might assume, its job is not to contain pee.*
You can do whatever you please at the beach, but some pools have special rules about kiddos in diapers. Again, the main concern of pool operators is preventing the spread of illness and disease** from poop accidents. For example, pools on cruise ships completely prohibit children in diapers (of any kind). The pool at our swim school requires a double-up system: a reusable diaper OVER a disposable diaper, whereas our neighborhood pool allows either. You never know.
Types of Swim Diapers
There are two kinds of swim diapers: disposable and reusable. The key to any swim diaper is that it FIT SNUGLY to prevent an embarrassing poop accident; and honestly, cloth swim diapers (reusable) that are adjustable tend to fit better than disposables.
The two big disposable swim diaper brands are Pampers Splashers and Huggies Little Swimmers. They are pretty much the same, so just pick whichever one is cheaper.
Disposable diapers start at ~13 lbs (size 3-4). The reason for this is because it’s really hard to contain the loose stools of young babies who haven’t started solid foods yet. I do not recommend anyone bring a baby less than six months old into a public swimming pool for this reason (speaking from [bad] experience…).
Disposables come in diaper sizes 3-6 (Huggies) and S, M, L (Pampers). For smaller babies, you’ll have to use reusable swim diapers (see below).
- Pros: Easy to remove by tearing the sides, and soiled diapers can be tossed in the garbage without a second thought.
- Cons: Don’t always contain poop very well, don’t come in smaller sizes, can cause rashes and chafing, can be very saggy.
If you don’t swim a lot, disposable swim diapers are the most economical way to go. Always bring extras with you in case your little one needs a change (they always do!).
For added protection with ‘sposies, I highly recommend adding an extra layer by using a reusable “waterproof pant” over your disposable swim diaper. About $5, they are cheap, durable, and easy to clean and reuse. Gerber makes them, as does Dappi. These are practically impossible to find in stores. Anywhere.
Reusable Swim Diapers
Reusable swim diapers seem to be preferred by most parents and pool operators — especially by frequent swimmers.
These diapers generally fit better* because they don’t stretch out and sag.
*Remember, you want the diaper to be fairly tight to contain stuff, so be sure not to order them too big because they won’t do their job as well. That said, you don’t want them so tight that they cause redness around the thighs.
Reusable swim diapers are more economical if you’re a frequent swimmer, as two or three should get you through the summer, three or four if you swim a lot. Remember, you’ll need to buy at least two to change your baby after a numero dos. I always bring two extras with me just in case there are TWO poopages to deal with because INEVITABLY, the day you take your baby swimming, she’ll have two back-to-back poops, right? Murphy’s Law.
The swim diapers that snap (or velcro) on the side are MUCH easier to change. I really dislike the pull-on style swim diapers because they make changing #2’s really hard. Not to get graphic, but pulling a wet, poopy diaper down your child’s legs and through their feet makes a HUGE, disgusting mess. This is why regular diapers have tabs on the sides. Seriously. If you take nothing else away from this article, I recommend you steer clear of the pull-up style swim diapers (the reason I don’t love Finis or Honest Co.).
The cost for reusables varies, from $8 to $25, averaging somewhere in the teens. You may have noticed that some children’s swimsuits have a reinforced swim diaper-like bottom, but I wouldn’t rely on this alone. I prefer to use a snug-fitting reusable swim diaper under a lined swimsuit for added protection (and for easier changing).
The big downside to reusables is that you’ll have to wash them well after a #2 (this is par for the course for cloth diapering moms; the rest of you may find it a little icky). To wash solid waste from a swim diaper, simply flush the solids down the potty, then (at home!) rinse the diaper with a diaper sprayer or in the sink or potty, then wash in the machine as instructed. Be sure to bring some disposable diaper sacks or a wet bag along to contain the mess until you get home because pools and public restrooms do NOT want people washing poopy diapers in their sink. This is where disposables have a definite advantage.
Favorite Swim Diapers
Below is a list of the best reusable swim diapers – from the Lucie’s List team, many parents and readers alike.
Alva Baby Washable Swim Diaper ~ $10+ for 2 — ECONOMY PICK
Love, love, love the Alva Baby 2-pack. Because, yes, you will need at least two of them anyway. These diapers are a great value ($10+ for 2!) and perform well.
These diapers have a variety of snap positions (I prefer side snaps over velcro because they don’t snag in the wash) and perform pretty darn well. The interior has mesh for easy clean up and the exterior is a polyester laminate.
Fits babies starting at 10lbs (with snaps on smallest setting) up to a 3-year-old. If you’re looking for a diaper for a 3+ year-old, look elsewhere; these are not meant for older toddlers and preschoolers.
iPlay ~ $9+
Cute, cheap and easy to find. They don’t fit as snugly as others on the list because they can’t be cinched or tightened.
All in all, this is a cute, economical diaper that’s also very comfortable. It performs reasonably well, but note this brand is quite bulky under your child’s swimsuit.
AppleCheeks Washable Swim Diaper ~ $10 — EDITOR’S PICK
Another mom favorite, the AppleCheeks swim diaper has two layers of 100% Canadian-milled mesh that permit water to move through the diaper while still containing solids. This diaper has two rows of snaps to choose from, so use them on the tighter setting if at all possible.
The AppleCheeks is a nicely designed swim diaper that lasts forever. This is my favorite swim diaper, just sayin’…
AMP Swim Diaper ~ $16
A lesser-known but amazing swim diaper from Canada is the AMP. The beauty of this diaper is that it’s also highly adjustable, with multiple rows of snaps, providing a snug fit at the thigh and in the back, which is exactly what you want. Ships easily to Canada or the U.S.
REMEMBER, folks, there are NO guarantees that a swim diaper – disposable or reusable – will contain your baby’s poo in every scenario. Many frequent-swimming parents have a horror story (or two) to share. Honestly? Your job is to pray to God that your kid doesn’t poop while swimming and if he does – get to it right away before, you know… just get to it as soon as you can. Once you see the red, scrunched-up poop-face, declare a Code Brown and evacuate the premises, stat!
Happy summer, everyone!
Honest Swim Diapers cost $13.95 on their website. https://www.honest.com/baby/honest-swim-diapers
I wish it was in stock so I can buy some. For now we are using Charlie Banana swim diaper from Target.
I don’t know why Amazon charges an arm & a leg for it.
I started going to the Y with my daughter for parent-tot swim lessons once she reached 4 months. The AMP fit brilliantly, and even contained the ebf poos!
I used the honest company swim miss last year. I did order them in march!! Lol as I knew they would be out of stock if I didn’t . I was happy with them and they work great if you have a little boy who will be wearing regular swim trunks over a swim diaper . 🙂
I read on someone’s blog that she found it best to double up with EBF babies. My son does eat some solids at 9 months old but I plan to use AppleCheeks under Bummis for extra protection.
iplay swim diapers with side snaps?!
also, looks like bummis swim diapers have been discontinued?
thank you, as always, for your suggestions! i use your website whenever i make a purchase for my baby!
Hi Katie – yes Bummis are running low on Amazon but more will be in stock in late May. In the meantime you can also find them on BabyEarth 😉
thought my last comment was going to include the website for iplay swim diapers with side snaps.
Here it is: http://www.amazon.com/play-Baby-Boys-Classics-Ultimate-X-Large/dp/B00SKUM73A/ref=sr_1_1?s=baby-products&ie=UTF8&qid=1430839643&sr=1-1&keywords=iplay+swim+diaper
are these good?
Hi Katie! I love iPlay swim diapers. I’ve used both the pull up and side snap. They both work just the same and depending on your child, the side snap may be easier to put on.
We have used the Bummis Swimmi for several years for our two kids & love it! I bought mine through diaperjunction.com, but many cloth diaper stores or online stores carry reusable swim diapers.
You can also designate a nicely fitting cloth diaper cover or empty pocket diaper as a reusable swim diaper. I did that last year with my under 1 yr old. You wouldn’t want to use more than 1 that you’ve designated because the chlorine will break down the waterproofness most likely and then you won’t want to use it sans pool.
Hi!! I can’t thank you enough for the wonderfully thourough and detailed information you’ve outlined in these summer prep articles!! I’m a first time mama and am gobbling all of this information up! Really thrilled to have flound your site and plan on staying connected!
thank you for telling me!!! — Meg
I recommend the Happy Nappy, especially for children under 6 mo old. They are a European company, and I heard about them from a girlfriend in London whose son started routine swim lessons at 2 mo. They are made of Neoprene, fit snuggly, and do a great job of containing even soft milk-fed poop. What they do is allow you to take younger infants in the pool. What they don’t do is provide an easy clean, so if your child poops they are benched for a bit while you have a big poopy mess to clean. Our daughter only pooped in them once over 15 mo of wearing weekly, so I figured that was a pretty good risk. The one time she did poop, I just hosed her down in the shower at the pool locker room.
You can get them on Amazon for about $12-14.
Thanks for the reco! We love hearing about products from our readers. Here’s the link to Amazon if anyone is interested in trying something new.
My favorite reusable swim diaper is the Finis diapers. They last a long time (we swim often) and fit well. I mostly like that they are from a real swim brand like speedo and TYR.
Hi Bri! Thanks for the reco. We’ll check it out for next year’s summer series 🙂
Thanks for all the great info! I am a first time mom that loves swimming and this was so helpful to me.
Recommendations for toddler-sized reusable swim diapers (anything besides iPlay)? Most of the better ones here are not large enough. Thanks!
Hi Jenn! You’re right, most reusable swim diapers only go up to 3 years or 36-40 lbs. And depending on your child, that may not cut it.
What about this one? Or this one from Bummis that goes up to 40 lbs.
You might look for one with adjustable snaps vs elastic.
Now that Bummis makes the Swimmi with snaps instead of velcro would that be your top pick over the AMP or Apple Cheeks? Or would they all be pretty much the same?
The One-Size Swimmi’s are also super highly rated, and it’s great that they can go all the way up to 40 lbs! They are very similar in style to the Apple Cheeks swim diaper with the snaps- I don’t think you can go wrong with either! Thanks.
Can regular cloth diapers (i.e. bumGenius Original) be used as a swim diaper? Thoughts?
You can, but the insert will get soaked. If you go no insert solid poops should be able to stay contained but anything other than pure solid poops you might be in trouble – depending on the type of cloth diaper (PUL would be your best bet). Not a risk I would want to take in a public pool, but in a pinch it can work.
Bummis Swimmi have velcro and snap sides it looks like. Maybe the snaps are new. Would you recommend them as well or the other snap ones more? Thanks for the info, so hard picking one.
The Bummis One-Size Swimmi has snaps for different sizing options and works well for kids all the way up to 40 pounds. Parents have been very happy with the One-Size Swimmi as well as the original (with the velcro closures), and they will last for a lot longer! Hope that helps.
What if you are also using a bathIng suit??
Hi Jessica, you should always use a swim diaper even when using a bathing suit with an extra liner. They don’t always keep everything in (if you get my drift…). Happy swimming!
Blueberry Freestyle swim diaper is our go to!! LOVE it.
When you are looking for a swim diaper for older children (or adults with special needs) the only brand that offers those sizes is SOSecure. They are very discreet and adjustable (both because of stretch, and design) so they grow with the child. Sizes range from baby to plus size adult. http://www.SOSecureProducts.com
We bought the AMP and it fits so much better than the iplay for my daughter with chubby thighs. Do I need a waterproof cover over this, or it is good as is?? Thanks! Always love your recommendations!!
Hi Rea! It’s good as-is 🙂 Also, check out their other options besides just the one we recommend: https://www.ampdiaperstore.com
I love the iplay ones. They also make tankini tops that match the diaper, so you dont have to worry about how bulky it is.
Thank you so much for the great information! I’m a FTM and always look to your guides first! I just purchased the AppleCheeks, I can’t wait to use it!
Hi! As a cloth-diapering mom, I’m big into reusable everything. We really love the Best Bottoms swim diapers! It’s the same brand that we use for our cloth diaper covers, but it’s mesh inside so it’s comfortable and breathable, but keeps in all solids. Even when my daughter was just starting solids but still mostly breastfed, it kept in her semi-solid-mostly-mushy poo. What makes it unique is that it has double legs gussets for extra grip around their legs. It allows for movement without springing a leak! They have lots of snaps for size adjustments and fit babies (and toddlers) from 10lbs-35lbs. My daughter is 2.5 years old and weighs 34lbs, and she still fits into them. They’re usually about $18 on Amazon, and you can find them on other sites too. They’re great!
We purchased 2 i-play diapers in size 12 months and our daughter outgrew them by 8 (before we ever used them), so we sized up to 24 months at the advice of our local baby shop. She’s 11 months now and I can barely get them up. If your baby has larger thighs, go with another brand.