Why They’re Better: Non-Disposable Swim Diapers

Protect the little ones from fecal matter--get them a non-disposable diaper.

When my first born was a baby and the cold winter days were being replaced by warm spring ones, I dutifully went out and purchased a package of Huggies swim diapers. I clearly remember taking Kieran to the beach, pulling on the swim diaper, and quickly realizing that disposable swim diapers. . . suck. They really do–no nice way about it. First of all, I couldn’t tell which side was the front. Secondly, he instantly peed and it went all over me. Next, I tried to get it off, and I tugged and tugged and it barely budged. (This was before I learned the trick of just ripping the sides.) I didn’t even finish the package of diapers that summer. I detested swim diapers, and my son either wore a regular diaper (which would be an interesting science experiment–just how much water can those diapers hold??) or he went naked.

When he was 2 1/2, I signed him up for swim lessons at Waterbabies Swim School. Waterbabies employs a “no disposable” swim diaper policy, and though Kieran was potty training, I got him a non-disposable just in case. I couldn’t believe the difference. Easy on, easy off, soft, and it didn’t get bogged down with water–why hadn’t I done this before? So when it came time for Emily to be in the water, I turned back to the non-disposable swim diapers. Here are four brands that we recommend, plus a little tutorial from the founder of Waterbabies, Wendy Gallagher, on why disposable swims are just so . . . bad. –Alex

From Wendy:

Everyone can reduce their footprint at the pool, and create a cleaner environment for their child, their friend’s children, and of course, their favorite swim teachers. We recommend Finis polyester reusable swim diapers, and have made a rule to eliminate the Huggies brand of disposable entirely. . . There are several reasons for this.

  • You should see how many bags of wet diaper trash we generate every week, it is frankly appalling.
  • Huggies don’t work. They leak. Fecal matter won’t stay in a Huggies disposable swim diaper, due to the fit of the pants themselves. There is an open back, and loose leg holes. They will not absorb anything when wet, so that aspect is not even part of the issue.
  • [The reason why fecal matter in pool water is concerning is because of] two strains of bacteria, one is Cryptosporidium, (the waterpark illness) and the other is Giardia. These can be found in fecal matter. Crypto is not killed instantly by chlorine, and has been known to stay alive in high chlorine concentration for over 12 hours. These are very serious issues, but the good news is, most healthy kids won’t have these in their stool, but, sick children presenting with diarrhea, or other internal illnesses may have them in their stool.
  • Most children do not have accidents in the pool while wearing the swim diaper, so we throw away dozens and dozens of one time use “clean” swim diapers. Curious to me as a spendthrift mom.
  • I could buy a reusable diaper for $10.00!  Once!
  • One drawback: if you have an accident, yes, clean up is going to be a bit messier, but at least it has not gotten into our pool water. I have only had two accidents with Trey [Wendy’s son], and both were contained.

From Alex:

Below are the three brands that I love, plus Wendy’s recommendation. . .Kushies Swimsuit Diaper

I received this one piece swim diaper for Emily and my first thought was, “Is this it??” Remarkably thin and non-bulky, I was convinced that this was only the outer lining, I emailed the Kushies PR rep, and sure enough, this suit was the entire diaper. I love the one piece for girls–no need for any extra baggage to lug to the beach. For those of you with boys, they have boy bottoms as well. From the Kushies site: “Our swim diaper features a quick drying nylon outer shell with a 100% cotton-terry inner lining chosen for softness, durability, and retention ability.  Easy to get on and off, the wrap style design makes it easier to change your little one while the adjustable waist with added ties provides a secure fit every time.” Kushies Swimsuit Diaper, on sale for $8.99. Click here to purchase.

Breezy Exclusive! Enter code breezyswim2010 and receive a 10% discount for any purchase made on the Kushies site. Valid through 9-13-10. Click here!

Charlie Banana

This diaper really got put to the test–Em pooped in it. She was in a backyard baby pool, so we also got to see how well it worked. No floaties or any remnants, the diaper did “swimmingly well.” From the Charlie Banana site, “Charlie Banana™ swim diapers have a outer layer that is waterproof and a soft lining inside against your baby’s gentle skin.Charlie Banana Swim Diapers. Click here for price and purchasing info.

i Play

This was the brand that I bought for Kieran, and I couldn’t have been happier. I’ve also received a hand-me-down pair that I’m currently using for Em and though it’s (at least) second generation, the leg holes and elastic are in perfect condition. From the site, My Swim Baby, “iPlay Ultimate Swim Diapers are a reusable swim diaper with an improved waterproof and absorbent design.  iPlay Ultimate Swim Diapers  have 3 layers – a waterproof layer to prevent leaks, a super absorbent layer absorbs wetness and a wick-away lining to keep moisture from baby’s skin.  The outer material is a coated poly shell that has no PVC or phthalates and the absorbent layer has no suprabsorbent gels. i Play Swim Diapers, $12.99. Click here to order.


From Wendy:

Finis swim diapers fit well, and contain fecal matter in the case of an accident.  The leg holes and waist band are tightly fitted, they do not break down in the chlorine, and Trey has been wearing the same swim pants for two years now… I still have good swim diapers from my older kids ages 16 and 12, if you can believe that. From the Finis site, “Washable and reusable. Comprised of 100% polyester, chlorine-resistant material.Finis Swim Diapers, prices range from $8.95 to $9.99. Click here to purchase.

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About Wendy Gallagher: Wendy has been teaching children and babies to swim since 1986. With her extensive knowledge, she has developed the Waterbabies Swim School curriculum. All teachers at Waterbabies are continuously trained and instructed by Wendy, and the school maintains a high level of consistency from instructor to instructor. Waterbabies Swim School has been a member of the United Swim School Association since 1998, and all the teachers have received their individual certifications from the USSA in infant swimming. Wendy is also the mother of four children, each could swim on their own before their second birthdays.  This alone, has added immense knowledge to the Waterbabies infant swimming program.  Experience is everything.

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  1. We use a reusable diaper from Bummies (a Quebec company). I think it cost $10, and it works great. There is absolutely NO REASON whatsoever to use the disposable kind.

  2. Wow, I’m really impressed with the swim school which encourages the use of reusable swim nappies like that. They just make perfect sense to me in every way – regular swimming lessons would not be affordable for us without them!

  3. Love iplay! I have tested many because that is what we do at our Earth Friendly and Kids Safe Children’s Store in Montecito before i put any products on my shelves!iplay is truly great. Love your Blogs and informative website. Adriana

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