Your Guide to Swimming Nappies

Swim nappies are a must for any child who isn’t potty trained and wants to enjoy a dip in the pool, baby and toddler swim classes, or the sea.

Our in depth guide to swim nappies will help you avoid the inconvenience and embarrassment of your child having an accident in the water.

This guide features:

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Disposable and reusable swim nappies comparison chart

Disposable

Reusable

Will they soak up urine?

Do not soak up urine.

Do not soak up urine.

Are they reusable?

No. They will last for the duration of a swimming session but can only be used once.

Can be reused multiple times so are more eco-friendly than disposables.

How do they stop leaks?

Although disposable swim nappies have leak guards around the legs, these are very limited in preventing faeces from entering the pool. 

Feature tightly woven fabric and secure but comfortable leg and tummy cuffs to fully contain any faeces.

What swimwear can they be worn with?

Can be used on their own, underneath regular swimwear or underneath a reusable swim nappy.

Can be used on their own, underneath regular swimwear or over the top of a disposable swim nappy or liner.

How expensive are they?

Cheap to buy.

Approx. £5 for a pack of 12.

More expensive than disposable nappies but can be more cost-effective if used regularly.

Approx. £10 per pair.

What brands should I look for?

Huggies Little Swimmers and Pampers Splashers are amongst the best known brands.

Splash About Happy Nappy is one of the leading reusable swim nappies.

Swim nappy size guide

Disposable swim nappies come in set sizes similar to standard nappy sizes – most brands sell nappies in the following sizes:

  • 2-3 (to fit babies who weigh approx. 3-8kg)
  • 3-4 (to fit babies who weigh approx. 7-15kg)
  • 5-6 (to fit babies who weigh approx. 12-18kg)

These numbers refer to the nappy size and not the age of the child, so choose a size similar to your child’s regular nappies. Choose a snug but comfortable fit to minimise the risk of leaks.

Some disposable swim nappies designed for smaller children have adjustable tabs for a more secure fit. 

Reusable swim nappies are sized by children’s ages – 0-3 months, 3-6 months, 6-12 months and so on. Your child’s age should be used as a guide for buying a reusable swim nappy but it’s important to also measure your child’s waist and thighs for the best fit.

Swim nappies look like regular swimming shorts and should fit snuggly at the waist and thighs and be tight enough without leaving a red mark. Click on any Happy Nappy on the Splash About website and follow the ‘Check Size Before You Buy’ link for a size calculator to ensure the best fit.

Happy Nappy swim nappies come in a range of designs, including the pretty Pink Blossom style for girls and the Noah’s Ark style for boys.

Waist

Thigh

(XS) Birth

31-36 cm

15-20 cm

(S) 0-3 m

34-41 cm

17-22 cm

(M) 3-6 m

37-44 cm

19-24 cm

(L) 6-12 m

40-47 cm

20-26 cm

(XL) 1-2 y

42-50 cm

22-31 cm

(XXL) 2-3 y

44-52 cm

26-33 cm

                          Thigh: Measure the circumference of the fullest part of the thigh

                          Waist: measure the circumference of the fullest part of the waist

Why are swim nappies so important?

If faeces leaks into a pool it is likely the pool will need to be closed while the water is drained and/or treated with chemicals.

This can mean scheduled swimming lessons and activities are cancelled and some pools even issue parents with a fine.

What about sizes for older children?

Most disposable and reusable swim nappies are suitable for children up to the age of three. There are a number of reasons why children older than this may require swim nappies:

  • Potty training is taking a little longer
  • Your local pool requires all children under a certain age to use swim nappies
  • Your child is affected by faecal incontinence

Splash About Jammers are designed to fit children up to the age of 9 and should a faecal accident happen, it won’t leak into the pool. They look just like swimming shorts and can be worn on their own or worn with other swimwear. There are styles suitable for boys and girls or unisex designs such as the Splash About Jammers in Navy/Pink.

Buy Splash About Jammers

5 Top tips for using swim nappies

  1. Disposable swim nappies are not very effective at preventing faeces from entering the pool, especially looser stools. If your child has had diarrhoea then skip the swimming session until they are completely better.
  2. No swim nappy can contain urine, so don’t put them on your child too soon! Urine in the pool is not a problem because it’s sterile when it leaves the body. If there are any pathogens from an infection for example, the pool chemicals kill them.
  3. Regular nappies should not be used for swimming as they absorb too much water, making them extremely heavy, which can be dangerous for little ones.
  4. Check your baby’s swim nappy regularly and change immediately if soiled.
  5. Ensure toddlers have a potty break every 30 - 60 minutes. Most leaks into pools come from toddlers who can’t hold it or are so excited they forget to hold it.

Buy the New Happy Nappy for just £9.99

Step-by-step guide to using a reusable swim nappy

Reusable swim nappies are simple to use. Just follow these steps:

  1. Put the reusable nappy on your child. Most reusable swim nappies work fine on their own but you may want your child to wear a disposable swim nappy underneath. The Happy Nappy can be used with a Nappy Wrap with optional nappy liners for easey cleaning.
  2. Put your child’s regular swimwear over the reusable swim nappy or just use the nappy on its own. The Splash About Happy Nappy is designed to look like regular swimwear so can be worn on its own.
  3. Regularly check your child’s swim nappy for soiling.
  4. If your child has a bowel movement then change them immediately in the baby change facilities, not at the side of the pool.
  5. Remove the soiled liner from the Nappy Wrap, if using, and flush this away. If you don’t use a liner or Nappy Wrap, simply tip the faeces off the swim nappy into the toilet and flush it away.
  6. Rinse the swim nappy in cold water and store in a plastic bag.
  7. If you want to continue swimming then simply rinse the swim nappy and your child can put it back on.
  8. Depending on how soiled the reusable nappy is you can either hand wash in cool water or in a warm wash in a washing machine with a gentle detergent.

How many swim nappies do I need?

Disposable swim nappies are designed to be used just once. If your child will be spending long periods out of the water (e.g. exploring the beach or having lunch at the swimming pool) then pack enough to ensure they have a clean, dry swim nappy every time they get back in the water. Wearing wet disposable swim nappies for extended periods out of the water can be uncomfortable for children and lead to nappy rash or chafing.If your child is suffering from nappy rash and you're worried about taking them swimming, find out how the Splash About Happy Nappy can help protect your little one's delicate skin.

Reusable swim nappies work just like regular swimwear so shouldn’t cause soreness or chafing if worn outside of the water, as they will dry quickly, so your child could wear one for a full day’s swimming and exploring. Regular swimmers may require two on rotation so you always have a clean, dry pair to hand in case of accidents.

Remember – disposable and reusable swim nappies are NOT designed to hold in urine so make sure you take your child for regular potty breaks or switch to a normal disposable nappy when they’re not in the pool.

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Swim nappy FAQs

When should I stop using swim nappies?

Once your child is potty trained and you are confident they will tell you when they need a poo you can stop using swim nappies, Splash About’s Happy Nappy range is suitable for children up to 3 years old and look just like regular swimwear (such as the super-cute vintage style Navy Dots costume) so if your child has recently been potty trained, this range can give you peace of mind that there will be no leaks should an accident happen.

How do I clean and care for reusable swim nappies?

Reusable nappies can be hand washed in cool water. If the nappy has been soiled, it can be put in the washing machine on a warm wash with a gentle detergent.

What are reusable swim nappies made from?

Reusable nappies are made from similar stretchy material to swimming costumes. The Splash About Happy Nappy range is made from super soft 1mm thick neoprene, this fabric is water resistant and helps to keep a snug fit over your baby’s bottom, the neoprene used is a much thinner and softer neoprene to that used to make wetsuits.

How long will a swim nappy contain faeces for?

Swim nappies are designed to hold faeces long enough for you and your little one to leave the pool without any leakage. They are not designed to hold faeces for a long period so you should ensure that you leave the pool immediately.

Will a swim nappy contain a loose stool?

Disposable swim nappies may not contain loose stools as they are not very robust and can leak around the seams. The Happy Nappy features wide cuffs made from neoprene fabric which creates a tight (but comfortable) seal around the thighs and tummy, which will keep faeces at bay.

While very loose stools are completely normal for young babies that are exclusively breastfed, if your child is older and is experiencing diarrhoea, then it’s important to keep them away from the water until they feel better.

Can my child wear a regular disposable nappy under a reusable swim nappy?

No, regular disposable nappies are designed to soak up liquid so can become bulky and uncomfortable very quickly if submerged in a swimming pool. However, disposable swim nappies can be worn under a reusable swim nappy.

What should my child wear under a reusable swim nappy?

Most reusable swim nappies can be worn on their own, however, for extra protection you may want to combine with a disposable swim nappy, a Nappy Wrap, and/or liner.

Some swimming pools and most swim schools insist on a disposable swim nappy being worn under a reusable one so check your local pool’s policy.

Are swim nappies suitable for boys and girls?

Absolutely. Splash About Happy Nappy comes in a range of designs suitable for boys and girls, or unisex designs suitable for both. A popular choice for boys is the Vintage Moby design and the Dragonfly design is a hit with girls.

You can view Splash About’s full range of Happy Nappy swimwear here.

Unsure about what to dress your baby in at the pool or beach? Read our guide Where to Start: Baby Swimwear Essentials