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Introduction to Cloth Diapers: Reusable Swim Diapers

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Just in time for Summer…..  oh….. it is almost Fall?  Well, so much for that!

I wanted to get a video and post about reusable swim diapers out for Summer but life has just kept getting in the way.  In any case, hopefully those of you in warmer climates can get some use out of this information and it will always be out there in the archive by next Summer when more folks are looking into them.

This is one of many posts and videos in my Introduction to Cloth Diapers Series.  Each video explains the type of diaper in detail for those of you who are new to cloth diapering or who want to try a new type.  View them all here: Introduction to Cloth Diapers.

Reusable Swim Diapers take a variety of shapes and forms.  Pattern wise they resemble a cloth diaper, however they should fit tight around the back and legs to hold in any solid waste.  Most swim diapers have polyester mesh next to baby’s skin, with a PUL lining.  Some are only Mesh, and others have PUL and a small amount of cotton in the wet zone.

There are a few main types of reusable swim diapers.

Velcro Closing-  The swim diaper closes using velcro so it is easy on.  If your baby likes to remove diapers then you will either want a different type of diaper or you’ll want to put swim trunks or bathing suit bottoms over the top.   An example would be the very popular Bummis Swimmi.

Snap Closing- These close using snaps.  An example would be the AMP Swim Diaper shown in the video.

Pull On- This diaper would pull on and off.  These look much cleaner and more like bathing suit bottoms but in the event of an actual “Code Brown” and a wet baby, this might be a mess to pull down.  You have been warned.  An example of this type would be the Charlie Banana shown in the video.

Pocket Diaper with no insert or Cloth Diaper Cover- if you don’t want to pay more money then check your cloth diaper stash.  You might have a potential swim diaper out of a pocket or cover.  The important thing is to first check that what you use is tight around the legs and back.  If you plan on swimming in chlorinated water then use something you don’t want in your regular stash.  Chlorine can de-laminate the PUL causing it to leak.  It will also contribute to faster wear on the elastic.

Why Should You Use Reusable Swim Diapers over Disposables?

Cost Savings:

One Package of Little Swimmers is 9.99$.  This contains 12 Diapers.

One Swim Diaper is 9.99-12.99 on Average.  This can be used as many times as you want as long as it fits.  And it can be used through multiple children, and/or resold.  It is the gift that keeps on giving.

If you are an avid swimmer you might want 2-3 per child in case you need to change one while already swimming.  We don’t swim often or for very long so one per child has always worked for us.

Cute Factor:

If you have ever watched a commercial for disposable swim diapers or seen a print ad, then compared their version of the diaper to the real thing then you might be dissapointed.

What they advertise

In reality the ink is faded and the designs are less than attractive.

Reality compared to a Reusable Swim Diaper

Reusable Swim Diapers stay cute swim after swim.  They come in attractive designs and you can even find embroidered diapers with cute images on the bum like the Monkey Doodlez brand.

Comfort:

I have always found wet swim wear to be less than comfortable.  Just put yourself in the place of your baby wearing a plastic diaper in a pool.  Wouldn’t you prefer polyester mesh or suedecloth/microfleece next to your skin over pulp and plastic?!

Effectiveness (poop):

I considered doing an experiment using a Poo like food item in a disposable swim diaper, then one in a Reusable Swim Diaper, while my son sat in a fish tank of some sort.  I would dye it so any leaks would be visible.  I’m SO GLAD I didn’t because it has already been done, mostly.  A Local News Channel, in reaction to a crypto outbreak, decided to test Little Swimmers in this very fashion using oatmeal.  Baby was placed in a fish tank and the oatmeal was dyed.  After some time the water started to look cloudy and bits of oatmeal were seen floating.  The most effective at holding in the oatmeal was a Plastic Cover.  Considering Reusable Swim Diapers ARE much like a plastic cover in their fit, and since many have PUL, it only stands to reason that this would be as effective.  You can read the entire story here: KL5 Putting Swim Diapers to the Test.

Are They Allowed?

If you are visiting a public pool, chances are that there is a swim diaper rule in place.  The cost of cleaning up after a Code Brown is very costly.  If you plan on using a reusable swim diaper be prepared to argue your case FOR them.  Many employees are unaware that they exist!  Hopefully your know how and their common sense will prevail.

What About The Pee?

A disposable swim diaper really isn’t that absorbent.  I did some testing, and while they did keep my blue dyed water out of my clear water, this was only because the leg casings held it in.  When I opened the diaper the water was still sitting inside.  Same goes for the PUL lined diaper.  At some point, that pee is coming out.  Possibly in the pool, or when you remove their diaper.  If you think that a disposable is better because it HOLDS pee you are mistaken.  It holds less than 2 oz.  Chlorinated water is meant to take care of the yucky stuff that comes with pool ownership.  Ocean/Lake/River water is already being peed in by its residents, your baby’s pee isn’t going to do any more harm.

Another good read on Swim Diaper Policies and Absorbency: Swim Diapers Are Not Designed to Absorb… Really

Where to Buy:

You can find reusable swim diapers at your local Babies R Us.  They sell a brand called iPlay.  Or visit your favorite Cloth Diaper Retailer.  Diapers seen in my video: AMP Swim Diaper, Bummis Swimmi, and Charlie Banana Swim Diaper.

More from the Introduction to Cloth Diapers Series

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Kim Rosas began Dirty Diaper Laundry in 2009 out of a desire to help more parents understand modern cloth diapers. She lives in Florida with her husband of 5 years and her two boys. Even though none of her boys wear diapers anymore she is still just as committed to promoting them. In her spare time Kim enjoys video editing, photography, and coffee.
  • Hannah Elise

    We’re not big swimmers but just came down to the ocean for vacation with in-laws.. we’ve been using a FuziBunz without an insert, and that has worked well for us. :)

  • http://profiles.google.com/fishielpk.88 Felicia Martinez

    I have a question for you before summer is fully up as it’s still really hot here in northern Idaho! I recently discovered a swimsuit/swim trunks for babies that have a swim diaper built into them by iPlay. Do you know anything about them? It would be nice to be able to use a swim suit with a swim diaper already built in…

    • Anonymous

      I have seen those but haven’t tried them out. If the “diaper” part fits well it should work fine. But if they pooped you would be out an entire swim set and have to have another pair or diaper around.

    • http://profiles.google.com/lauralitabeth Laura Cantrell

      I have those and we love them!  But we are not usually in the pool very long, so I think Kim’s point is very valid!  Originally we had an iPlay swim diaper (not the set) and a one-piece rashguard-type suit over top–that might be a good solution if you were going to be swimming for long periods of time.

  • http://www.comfycozydiapers.com Amy

    I find that reusable swim diapers make a great baby shower gift and are a gentle way to introduce families to reusable diapers.

    • Anonymous

      That is a good idea!

  • http://profiles.google.com/lauralitabeth Laura Cantrell

    the swim diapers iPlay makes do absorb some, which is nice for peace of mind going from changing room to pool, but not necessary.

  • http://www.domesticdevotion.com Ali

    I use my GroVia hybrid shells for swimming.  They are adorable, work great and are one size so I can use them until we are potty trained!

  • lindsay

    We love the mother-ease swim diaper!! Have one for both of my boys!

  • Amber

    Thank you for this post. This is our first summer with a swimming baby, and, until now, I was a bit unsure about taking our cloth wearing babe to the pool.

  • A L&C parent

    Thanks for info.

  • Lurel

    Thanks! Our apartment has a nice pool and I’m looking forward to taking our daughter a lot this summer, as well as to the lake for vacation. With disposable swim diapers costing around $1 each, it will definitely pay for itself quickly!


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