Reusable Swim Diapers: Everything You Need To Know

by Bailey Bouwman

 Taking your little one to the pool or beach can be a fun and exciting experience, but it's important to make sure you have all the right gear. One essential item you'll need is a swim diaper - and making the switch to a reusable swim diaper will save not only money, but sanity in knowing you've always got the poop caught.


In this article, we'll cover everything you need to know about reusable swim diapers - what they are, why they're important, and how to choose the right one for your child. We only have one type of swim diaper in store right now, but maybe we'll have options. 

Cloth Swim Diapers are for everyone, but maybe you are in learning more about cloth diapering? Check out our comprehensive guide on Cloth Diapering 101,where we break down the different types of cloth diapers and provide tips and tricks for success.

What is a Swim Diaper?

A swim diaper is a specially designed diaper that is meant to be worn in the water to capture poop. Both disposable and cloth swim diapers don't absorb water. They are also designed to contain solid waste, which is important to prevent accidents in the water. Because accidents in the pool are no good. 

Swim diapers have the same shape and form as a disposable or cloth diaper that forms around the baby's body creating a seal to keep the poop in. Pee is not captured - because if it can catch pee it can absorb pool water.

Types of Swim Diapers

The swim diaper niche is not the biggest, but it is one that is occupied by many different manufacturers resulting in a few different styles. We see some that mare more like pull on underwear and some that more like a cloth diaper. 

  • Disposable Swim Diapers: These are single-use swim diapers that are similar to regular disposable diapers. They are designed to be worn once and then thrown away. They are available in various sizes, and they are easy to use. They are very expensive for one-time use.

  • One Size, Snap On Cloth Swim Diapers: These swim diapers are designed to fit most babies from about 8-35 lbs. They usually have adjustable snaps and elastic to ensure a secure fit. One size swim diapers are an economical option since they can be used for multiple seasons, and can really be customized to fit your child.  This is popular style among cloth diaper brands. 

  • Pull On Sized Swim Diapers - Sized swim diapers come in different sizes, and you must choose the right size for your baby. This can also be a custom fit, but also not depending if your child meets the same dimension of the swim diaper. This style of diaper is common amongst brands that manufacture children's swim accessories. You'll need to change sizes as your child ages.

  • Disposable Swim Diapers: These are single-use swim diapers that are similar to regular disposable diapers. They are designed to be worn once and then thrown away. They are available in various sizes, and they are easy to use.

Why Choose Cloth Swim Diapers

There are many reasons why parents choose cloth swim diapers over disposable options - and in fact, I'm surprised that the disposable industry has convinced us that disposable swim diapers should be the norm because they are an expensive product with a relatively high rate of failure (note the experience that is some pools requiring double swim diapers). 

  1. Eco-Friendly: Cloth swim diapers are a sustainable option that helps reduces waste. Disposable diapers consume about 2-3% of our municipal waste and once upon a time I was privy to waste audit of a BC municipality where we learnt that one of the biggest expenses to the city for waste management was disposable diaper removal at their pools. So switching to swim can help our municipalities save some money - theoretically.

    Cloth Swim diapers are reusable and can be washed and used multiple times.

  2. Cost-Effective: While cloth swim diapers may cost more upfront than disposable options, they can save you money in the long run, especially if you swim often. They can be washed and reused many times, and can also be passed down to younger siblings or other families.

  3. Comfortable: Cloth swim diapers are designed to be comfortable for children to wear. They come in a range of sizes and styles to offer kids comfort, but also they need to feel wet!

  4. Easy to Clean: Cloth swim diapers can be washed and dried in the same way as regular cloth diapers. Many brands are also machine washable and can be tumble dried on low heat.

  5. Adorable Designs: Cloth swim diapers come in a variety of fun prints and colors, making them a stylish choice for your little swimmer. And swim diapers can totally function as your Childs swimwear - the only thing they need to wear to the beach besides a stylish hat and some sunscreen. 

Should your child poop in the pool in a swim diaper, you still need to exit the pool promptly and change their diaper. And yes, you will have to now clean a poopy swim diaper, but it's a simple task that will save you big time and is about the same as cleaning a poopy sleeper or any other blow out incident. 

How to Use a Reusable Swim Diaper

The process is near identical to using a disposable swim diaper and using a swim suit. If you know how to wash a swimsuit, you can tackle a cloth swim diaper. I promise. 

  1. First, make sure the swim diaper is the correct size for your child. It should fit snugly around the waist and legs without being too tight. You may need to adjust the rise settings on the exterior of the diaper if your diaper has one, or refer to the size chart if you've chosen a sized swim diaper.

  2. Before putting on the swim diaper, make sure your child's bottom is clean and dry! Seriously, we don't want poop in the pool so all bums need to be clean. 

  3. Put the swim diaper on your child like you would a regular diaper, making sure it's snug around the waist and legs.You'll wan the elastics to fall into the leg crease just like underwear would fit. If there's gaps, tighten up different snaps to give a good fit. 

  4. Once your child is in the water, monitor them closely for any signs of discomfort or leakage.

  5. When it's time to take off the swim diaper, carefully remove it and dispose of any solid waste in the toilet.

  6. Rinse it out and wash it according to the manufacturer's instructions - generally like a swimsuit - or any other piece of poopy clothing. The goal is to really rinse out any solids and flush down the toilet, then wash until clean. 

  7. Make sure to always follow the proper hygiene and safety guidelines when using swim diapers to ensure a fun and safe swimming experience for everyone.

How Much Will It Cost to Use Swim Diapers?

There's never a black and white answer to calculating costs - but in this equation we never really know how many times you'll use a product. Are you registered for swim lessons? Or are you a once a month swimmer?

To do this, I've calculated the cost of swim diapers at per use, the cost of swim diapers will vary. If you're buying them last minute at the pool they can be upwards of $2 each. Some pools will require an additional cloth diaper swim diaper over top. 

Sized swim diapers also flexible in their cost depending on how many sizes you'll need. In both scenarios with the reusable swim diaper, I recommended having two swim diapers because sometimes shit happens on the way to the pool and you want to go back in. A second one on hand can help ensure you're always having a positive pool experience. 

Diaper Cost Number of Diapers Longevity Total Cost
Lil Helper Swim Saver Adjustable Swim Diaper $22 2 One Size $44 over 2-3 years
Sized Reusable Swim Diaper $17 2 3 Sizes $102 over 2-3 years
Disposable Swim Diapers $12 17 One-time use $0.50 -$2 per use

How to choose a reusable swim diaper

  1. Size and Fit - make sure the swim diaper is available in a size that will fits snugly on your child. What size is your child and what size is the product to prevent any leaks or accidents in the water.
  2. Material - consider the type of material used, whether it is eco-friendly, soft and comfortable for your baby's skin, and easy to clean. The Lil Helpers swim diaper features a soft inner, some feature suede, and some brands are using innovative new textiles for the exterior. 
  3. Style - yes, you can just buy the pretty one. 
  4. Access - consider what swim diaper options are available to you, whether it be in-store, online, or through local sellers. If you're local to us, stop into the shop and see what choices you have. We love to carry products we trust and believe in .

Answering Common Questions about Swim Cloth Diaper

Question Answer
How many swim diapers do I need? It's recommended to have at least two swim diapers so you always have a backup in case of an accident. Some families will grab up to four, but swim diapers dry out super quick and easy to care for when on holidays or have multiple swim lessons a week. 
How do I choose the right size for my baby? Check the sizing chart provided by the manufacturer and measure your baby's waist and thighs to ensure a snug fit. Check reviews for additional inflation. 
How do I clean a reusable swim diaper? Rinse off any solids and wash the swim diaper according to the manufacturer's instructions, similar to washing a swimsuit - or any other poopy item of clothing. It doesn't have complex layers like a cloth diaper, os you got this. 
How often should I wash the swim diaper? Wash the swim diaper after each use regardless of poop - you want to rinse out that chlorine for textiles. 
Can I reuse a swim diaper for multiple children? Yes, reusable swim diapers can be washed and reused for multiple children or passed down to other families.
Can I use a swim diaper as a regular diaper? No, swim diapers are not designed to absorb urine and will leak if used as a regular diaper. This is true for both cloth and disposable.
How long do reusable swim diapers last? The longevity of a reusable swim diaper varies depending on the brand and how often it is used, but they can last for multiple seasons. All things are susceptible to wear and tear over time, and the exposure to chlorine can impact that. You should get several years just like a swim suit. 
Can I use a reusable swim diaper in a public pool? Yes, most public pools allow reusable swim diapers, but it's always best to check with the pool's guidelines and regulations. Some may even require a reusable swim diaper. 
What should I do if my baby poops in the swim diaper? Exit the pool promptly, carefully remove the swim diaper, dispose of any solid waste in the toilet, and rinse and wash the diaper.
How much do reusable swim diapers cost? The cost of reusable swim diapers varies depending on the brand, but we can confidently say they are more cost-effective than disposable options.
How do I put on a reusable swim diaper? Put the swim diaper on your child like a regular diaper, making sure it's snug around the waist and legs. Adjust the snaps or elastic as needed.
Can I use a swim diaper cover with a reusable swim diaper? Yes, a swim diaper cover can provide an additional layer of protection and help keep the swim diaper in place. Some pools require this because nothing beats the real elastic of a swim diaper over the fabric elastics of the disposable. 
Are reusable swim diapers eco-friendly? Yes, reusable swim diapers are a sustainable option that helps reduce waste and save money in the long run.

The downside to reusable swim diapers is that you will have to clean out the poop and can't just toss it in the garbage. As a mom, I only ever had my kid poop once in the pool over four years... so it's totally worth it to me to save the hundreds in swim diapers that would have been used. 

You will have to weigh what's important to you and if you can tackle the task of cleaning poop - and if you're a parent already you're probably a champ at that and know you can wash your hands, and move along. 

Helping Families Go Green, One Swim Diaper at a Time

Reusable swim diapers are a great investment for any family looking to make a sustainable and cost-effective choice for their little swimmer. Not only are they better for the environment, but they can save you money in the long run. By considering factors such as fit, style, and access, you can choose the best swim diaper for your child.

Ready to make the switch to reusable swim diapers? Check out our selection of swim diapers at Nest and Sprout - we can also help you find the perfect swim suit for your little one, as well as must-have beach accessories to take on the outdoors this year. 

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