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Everything You Need to Know About Reusable Swim Diapers + The Best Swim Diapers on the Market

Reusable swim diapers are amazing, and are an essential if you’re hitting the pool or beach with a baby. And yet many people have questions about how they work and what they really do. I’ve compiled everything you need to know about water diapers and my recommendations for the very best reusable swim diapers you can buy.

>>> Skip ahead to recommendations for the best swim diaper of 2021 by clicking here! >>>

How do swim diapers work?

Swim diapers don’t work the same way that regular diapers do. Regular diapers are absorbent, and are designed to puff up when they fill with liquid. They pull the liquid away from your baby’s body, while at the same time containing any solids from falling out.

Swim diapers are not designed to absorb liquid. Can you imagine how heavy and awkward they would be to wear? They are designed to contain solids and allow liquids to pass freely through like a swimsuit.

In other words, they don’t do anything to catch pee. Pee goes right out into the pool. They are there to catch poop.

Is that gross? I guess it depends who you ask, but babies don’t really pee that much and I’m pretty sure they’re not the only people peeing in that pool. I wouldn’t worry about it.

smiling baby in pool with floaties on back

Should I get reusable or disposable swim diapers?

Full disclosure: I am a cloth diaper mama, so I might be biased.

However, many people who use disposables for regular diapers choose to go with reusable swim diapers. There are a lot of advantages!

You’ll save money in the long run.

Reusable baby swim diapers are really not that expensive. A high quality one will cost you about the same as a 12-pack of Huggies Little Swimmers – around $15.

Some of them will last you for several years. This Beau & Belle swim diaper fits from 6 – 36 months, and has covered both of my kids. We go to weekly swim lessons for 2 babies, and have used this diaper off and on a lot during that time. Imagine how many disposable swim diapers I would have had to buy over the years!

mother holding baby in the air on vacation on beach

Even the ones that don’t have an adjustable fit are still a good deal. You’re not going to find a much smaller pack of disposables than 12, so even if you don’t swim often enough to use the diaper a ton before you’re on to the next size, you would have been spending the same on a pack of disposables anyway.

They don’t go straight to the landfill after 30 minutes of use.

Just like with cloth diapers, I love that I’m not adding yet another diaper to the landfill every time we go swimming. I would rather have a quality product that I can pass down to younger siblings and then to friends and cousins after that.

I’m never caught without the swim diaper.

I don’t want to get to the pool and realize I’ve forgotten the pool diapers. That would be a disaster!

If the swimsuit and the swim diaper are two separate entities, there’s a good chance I’m going to forget the diaper. But if the diaper is part of the swimsuit, I don’t have to worry about grabbing an extra item.

At least, if I’ve remembered the swimsuit, I’ve got everything I need.

They’re just way cuter.

baby on edge of pool with arms raised

I don’t love the look of swim diapers under swimsuits. Sure, that’s not the most important thing in the world, but given the choice….

This is why I prefer Green Sprouts’ swimsuits (Green Sprouts was formerly known as the i play swim diaper – easily the biggest name in swim diapers). Unlike every suit I’ve gotten from Target or Carter’s, they come with a built-in reusable swim diaper. No need for doubling up on the bottoms (which, might I remind you, is just one extra step during diaper changes as well).

And if you’ve got a preschooler or older kiddo who would benefit from a swim diaper, this actually might be more important to you. Obvious swim diapers could damage an older child’s confidence if his friends are all in regular swim gear. Reusable swim diapers are more discreet and can look just like everyone else’s swimsuit.

Many pools require you to double up with disposables.

Even the best disposable swim diapers just don’t fit as well, and pools know it. Most pools require you to double up your disposable pool diaper with a plastic or rubber swim diaper cover.

Now we’re getting even more expensive, and way less cute.

Is this really enforced? I’m not sure. I see babies at the local pool in disposable swim diapers just under their swimsuits all the time. But I’ve also read plenty of stories online from people who were forced to buy one from the pool in order to get in the water. So it depends on your pool.

I have on occasion seen signs that require a double diaper regardless of if you have a reusable swim diaper or not. I honestly don’t see how a second reusable swim diaper helps (the fitting would be all wrong), and no one has ever asked me to add another diaper.

Let’s talk about poop.

Hey, it’s an important topic when you’re thinking about the effectiveness of swim diapers.

Poop in a pool or at the beach is gross. But beyond that, it can actually be dangerous. As you’re no doubt aware, “solid waste” is full of bacteria, and swimming around with it is not a good idea.

That’s why, if someone poops in a pool, they kick everyone out. They have to. They need to cycle through the water and ensure it is safe to swim in healthily.

It is imperative that your child wears a high quality swim diaper that fits for this reason.

But there are a few things to keep in mind, if you’re suddenly gripped with fear that your child will manage to shut down the whole pool:

How often do your kids really poop?

In all of the hours of swim lessons, beach days, and family pool outings, I’ve never once had one of my children poop. Is it just luck? Is there something about being in the water that makes their bodies not want to poop? I’m not sure.

But it’s unlikely that you’ll be in the pool for more than maybe 30 minutes with a baby before everybody is worn out. Statistically speaking, you’ve got a good chance of them not pooping in that time.

And with an older child, you can hopefully encourage them to go before you hit the pool.

What about breastfed babies?

Here is something that most people (except cloth diaper moms) don’t know: breastfed babies have water soluble poo.

I’ve seen this as an argument for not bringing babies into the pool, because their poop will disintegrate into the water and flow right through newborn swim diapers.

I disagree that you should keep your baby out of the pool because of it, but I do recommend checking often. It’s not like the poo hits the water and immediately disintegrates and seeps out, but I don’t think it would be ideal to hang around for a long time and see what happens. Change that diaper quickly.

What about diarrhea?

No one should be in the pool or swimming at the beach if they have diarrhea, and that includes babies. Whatever illness is causing the diarrhea can spread to everyone else in the water, so please don’t do it.

Sometimes things can happen suddenly, without you knowing that your child is sick. I get it. Should that unfortunate event happen, I would much rather see it happen in a reusable.

A good cloth diaper can contain diarrhea, a hell of a lot better than a disposable can. You’ll never see a fountain up the back in a cloth diaper! Likewise, a good cloth swim diaper will contain it, at least for a bit. This is another instance where you really want to know right away! But at least you will have a chance.

baby at the beach in a swimsuit

How do you clean poop from a reusable swim diaper?

So what happens if your little cherub does manage to poop in the swim diaper? It depends on the poop.

If you are fortunate enough to see solid nuggets, brush them off into the toilet. Then toss it in the laundry just like you would a swimsuit.

If it is exclusively breastfed baby poo, you can honestly just rinse this in your sink and then wash it with your laundry.

If you are unfortunate enough to see paste/peanut buttery consistency, use a piece of toilet paper (not a baby wipe!) to wipe as much as you can off and into the toilet. Soak the diaper for a bit. You can do this by dunking it into the toilet to get some more of the solid stuff off.

Run it on a short, hot cycle by itself. Then run it on a normal hot cycle with any other laundry that can handle that cycle. This goes against most manufacturer recommendations, and might shorten the life of the materials. But if you’ve got a serious poo mess, this is the way to attack it.

The Best Reusable Swim Diapers

Now that you know everything you need to know about swim diapers, how about some recommendations. We’ve been through a handful of them at our house!

I Recommend: Green Sprouts (formerly known as iplay swimwear)

Note: The link above is to their website. I prefer to buy directly, and take advantage of 15% off if you sign up for the newsletter! But these will take you to Amazon.com if that is your preference:

I love the water diapers from Green Sprouts. The iplay swim diaper was the original, and they continue to be the best. They rebranded in January 2020 to Green Sprouts, but continue to create the same high quality baby swim gear that they always have.

Here’s why I love Green Sprouts swim diapers so much:

three colorful iplay swim diapers

Just the right amount of material. They’re not thick like cloth diapers, but they do have some chunk to them. That’s because they have 3 layers: a wicking layer next to the baby’s skin, a padded absorbent layer in the middle, and a waterproof liner. This, right here, is why these are the best.

  • The wicking layer is breathable and helps prevent chafing and diaper rash.
  • The absorbent layer is there in case of accidents outside of the pool, and this is something that is lacking in most swim diapers. Usually, you need to get that diaper on immediately before you get in the water, because it will not hold in any pee. But these will hold a decent amount of pee in case of out-of-the-water accidents. I wouldn’t replace my cloth diapers with them, but it’s so nice to trust putting these on and then buckling into the car seat.
  • The waterproof layer. Remember when I said that reusable swim diapers are not waterproof diapers? That is still true with these. They will not 100% prevent pee from getting out in the water, and they are not designed to. But that waterproof layer – like in cloth diapers – protects from out-of-water accidents, and goes a LONG way toward improving the odds that breastfed baby poo and any other runny poo will stay inside. This is the only style I would put on a breastfed baby.

Well designed to fit snugly. The Green Sprouts diapers fit nicely with elastics around the legs. Yes, you need to buy them more often because they fit for a shorter period of time (6 month ranges up to 2T, then 1 year ranges). But that is worth it for a solid fit, and again – you’d be buying a new pack of disposables anyway.

Lots of styles to choose from, including full swimsuits! I love that their diapers coordinate with their swim tops and rash guards (and their sun hats even!), and you can buy them as a complete swimsuit! They also have swim trunk style for boys and one-piece style for girls – both with the swim diaper built in!

The newer styles have side snaps, making for super easy diaper changes. Although honestly ours do not have them, and they’re still pretty easy. Snaps would be a nice improvement, though.

Made with high quality materials. These diapers, like all of Green Sprouts’ swim wear, are UPF 50+ sun protection and STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX certified. This is one argument against buying a knock-off version.

A great company to support. I prefer to buy from companies that I trust and admire, and this is one. It has been mother-daughter owned and operated since 1982! You can find more of Green Sprouts’ innovative products here.

You won’t find any other brands who focus so heavily on specifically creating swim diapers.

But there are other great cloth swim diapers out there! Here are some different perennial favorites:

Price Comparison Chart

Scroll down for detailed information!

Beau & Belle Nageuret Swim Diapers

This is the only other major brand (that I know of) that truly specializes in reusable swim diapers. We have one of these, as well, and we are happy with it. It’s a very different swim diaper from the Green Sprouts. It is ultra-thin, with no attempt to hold in pee outside of the pool. This is fine, it just means that you need to change when you’re out of the water for sure.

One advantage is that these fit from 6-36 lbs, making these a one-size-fits-all that will grow with your child from birth to about 3 years, thanks to an extensive adjustable snap system. They also now make a large size that fits 30-45 lbs.

I really like the gender-neutral designs on these. I also appreciate the high quality of the materials. We use this diaper when we want it to fit under a swimsuit (like a one piece or just too cute of a two piece).

After a long day at the beach, there are always little marks where the snaps have been digging in, which I imagine would be the case with any of these swim diapers that are super thin and have snaps. It doesn’t seem to bother my daughter.

Alva Baby Swim Diaper

Alva Baby is primarily a cloth diaper company, with a handful of other baby products as well. These swim diapers have almost no absorbency for a lightweight, comfortable experience. They are one-size-fits-all for ages 0-2 or 0-3, depending on the size you buy. They come in about a million adorable styles.

Applecheeks Swim Diaper

Made by the well-respected cloth diaper brand Applecheeks, these swim diapers come in 3 sizes. They basically took their beloved cloth diaper covers – complete with the signature ruffles – and adapted them into a swim diaper. These are a non-absorbent mesh.

Bummis Swim Diaper

Another great cloth diaper brand, the Bummis are unique because they are the lightweight mesh like many of the others, but they also come with a microfiber insert for use outside of the water (the newer version only). So you can use this like a regular diaper until you’re ready to get in the pool or beach, then pull out the microfiber liner. Pretty smart! These come in one-size-fits-all for 10-35 lbs.

Finis Swim Diaper

Finis is a swimwear brand, not a diaper brand. They specialize in swimsuits for all ages. Usually, I would steer away from brands who “add-on” baby products to their usual line, but these ones are really well-reviewed and seem like a good balance between absorbent padding and flexibility. There are many complaints about sizing (too small), so keep that in mind. I also notice a lot of people in the reviews use these in addition to disposables, rather than instead of.

Whatever you choose, I hope you feel confident that you know how to use reusable swim diapers, and what the best reusable swim diaper is for your family. Playtime at the pool or the beach with babies is so much fun, so let’s not spend that time worrying about poop!

baby asleep in the nap system of a veer cruiser

Do you have a favorite swim diaper that wasn’t mentioned here? A positive or negative experience? Or maybe just some questions? Leave them in the comments!

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high quaity i Play. Baby Girls Cloth Reusable Swim Diaper - 2 Pack: Clothing luxury brand

Iplay Reusable Swim Diaper and Drawstring Bag:Bundle includes 1 Iplay #1 best selling baby swim diaper and 1 drawstring carry-all beach bag.
Iplay Swim Diaper: Iplay reusable absorbent swim diapers can be worn alone as a swim suit bottom or under a standard swimsuit, swim trunks, or bikini bottom as a swim diaper. Boys and girls swimsuits have a pull-on style diaper built in. All Iplay's swimwear has UPF 50+ sun protection. Swimsuit diapers are available in a variety of colors and prints.
- Trim, lightweight diaper encourages swimming; Easy-lock snaps
- Snug fit helps contain solid matter and is approved for public swimming pools (many other swim diapers are not)
- Economical and creates less waste - use and reuse!
- Comfort seams around the waist and legs
IPLAY Swim Wear: Iplay Inc. is the original swim diaper manufacturer with over 20 years of experience developing and testing their unique patented and approved swim diaper. Swim diapers have become an important health issue. Public pools in over 27 states now require or encourage the use of approved swim diapers-waterproof pants with snug-fitting legs and waist. Iplay swim diapers help prevent embarrassing accidents, as well as provide ultimate secure protection for babies and swimmers.
Black Drawstring Backpack: black drawstring canvas backpack bag can be used as a beach bag, pool bag,gym bag, diaper bag or just a carry-all to carry anything you need for a day out. Bag has a large opening on top and straps can be adjusted to fit children or adults. This bag is not made by Iplay.
Iplay Swim Diaper Size Chart: Small 3-6 Mths 10-18 Lbs, Medium 6-12 Mths 18-224 Lbs, Large12-18 Mths 22-25 Lbs, X-Large 18-24 Mths 25-30 Lbs, 3T 2-3 Years 30-38 Lbs, 4T 38-46 Lbs.

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