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Updated 29/11/2023

Your guide to Swimming Nappies

First things first, why use Swim Nappies at all? As a first time parent you may not be be aware that if you want to take your baby swimming, a regular nappy will not do!

Regular nappies are designed to absorb water, and will therefore suck water from the pool into the nappy, causing it to swell and become heavy. This not only means it will not work to hold in any accidents, it will be uncomfortable and could become a drowning risk.

Does a swimming nappy hold in urine?

A Swim Nappy, whether disposible or reusable, will not hold water. This of course means they won't hold in urine, but they also won't swell and cause discomfort whilst in the water. Many first time users are not aware of this and are alarmed when urine leaks from the nappy on the way to the pool! Swim nappies should only be put on just before you get into the pool and should be changed as soon as possible after a faecal accident.  There are currently no waterproof swim nappies on the market.

Does my baby need a swim nappy?

A Swim Nappy is required by all swimming pools for any child who isn't potty trained. Finding the right swimming nappy for your baby can seem like a minefield, so we have devised this in depth guide to swim nappies to help you avoid the inconvenience and embarrassment of your child having an accident in the water.

This guide features:

  • Disposable and reusable swim nappies comparison chart

  • Swim nappy size guide

  • 5 Top tips for using a swim nappy

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

  • How many swim nappies do I need?

  • Swim nappy FAQs

Disposable and reusable swim nappies comparison chart

  • A disposable swim nappy looks like a regular nappy and is worn once and thrown away
  • A reusable swim nappy looks like a regular pair of swimming shorts or forms part of a swimming costume and can be worn multiple times
 
  Reusable Swim Nappy Disposable Swim Nappy
Will they soak up urine? Do not soak up urine Do not soak up urine
Are they reusable? Can be reused multiple times so are more eco-friendly than disposables. No. They will last for the duration of a swimming session but can only be used once
How do they stop leaks? Feature tightly woven fabric and secure but comfortable leg and tummy cuffs to fully contain any faeces. Although disposable swim nappies have leak guards around the legs, these are very limited in preventing faeces from entering the pool. 
What swimwear can they be worn with? Can be used on their own, underneath regular swimwear or over the top of a disposable swim nappy or liner. Can be used on their own, underneath regular swimwear or underneath a reusable swim nappy.
How expensive are they?

More expensive than disposable nappies but can be more cost-effective if used regularly. Approx. £12 per pair.

Cheap to buy. Approx. £7 for a pack of 12.

What brands should I look for?

Splash About Happy Nappy™ is the leading reusable swim nappy. 

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

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.

 

Age Range

Waist Circumference Thigh Circumference
X Small -Newborn 31-36 cm 15-20 cm
Small - 0-3 Months 34-41 cm 17-22 cm
Medium - 3-6 Months 37-44 cm  19-24 cm
Large - 6-12 Months 40-47 cm 20-26 cm
X Large - 1-2 Years 42-50 cm 22-31 cm
XX Large - 2-3 Years 44-52 cm 26-33 cm

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

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

 

 

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 the chlorine will kill any pathogens that may be present.
  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.

 

Happy Nappies

Splash About is the leading brand in reusable swim nappies. The Happy Nappy™ is made from neoprene. Its patented, unique shape is designed to fit baby's bottom and move as they do, preventing any gaping and stopping faecal leaks into the pool. The award-winning Happy Nappy™ is recommended by swim schools for swimming lessons worldwide, and for good reason! We have not had a reported leak in the Happy Nappy™ for over 8 Years! Available in a wide range of colours and designs, the Happy Nappy™ really is a swimming lesson essential. 

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

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

  • Put the reusable nappy on your child. Most reusable swim nappies work efficiently without any other nappy underneath, however some swim schools insist on a double nappy system. In this case reusable nappies can be worn with a disposable underneath or a reusable Nappy Wrap and Liners. If you choose the Happy Nappy Duo, with a second layer incorporated, there is no need for any other under nappy at all.
  • 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 without any swimwear on top.
  • Regularly check your child’s swim nappy for soiling.
  • If your child has a bowel movement then change them immediately in the baby change facilities, not at the side of the pool.
  • Remove the soiled liner from the Nappy Wrap, if using, and dispose of in the bin (Splash About Nappy Liners are fully biodegradeable). 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.
  • Rinse the swim nappy in cold water and store in a plastic bag.
  • If you want to continue swimming then simply rinse the reusable swim nappy and your child can put it back on.
  • To clean a soiled reusable swim nappy hand wash in cool water and leave to dry away from direct sunlight.

 

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 here.

Reusable swim nappies work just like regular swimwear so shouldn’t cause soreness or chafing. As they do not hold in urine, they should be swapped for a regular nappy as soon as the baby gets out of the water. They are quick drying, so can be left to dry whilst out of the pool and reused when the baby returns to the water. At most, you should only require 2 reusable swim nappies to use on rotation so you always have a clean, dry swim nappy 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 regular nappy when they’re not in the pool.

 

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 looks just like regular swimwear, 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.

What are reusable swim nappies made from?
The Splash About Happy Nappy™range is made from super soft 1mm thick neoprene. This fabric is water resistant and will fit snugly to your baby's bottom, allowing them to move freely without any gaping.  The neoprene used is a much thinner and softer neoprene than 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 specialist fabric which creates a tight (but comfortable) seal around the thighs and tummy, which will keep solid and semi-solid 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 swim schools insist on a disposable swim nappy being worn under a reusable one, whilst others insist on the Happy Nappy Duo or double layer nappy system, so check your local pool’s policy.

Are swim nappies suitable for boys and girls?
Absolutely. The Splash About Happy Nappy™ comes in a range of designs suitable for boys and girls, or unisex designs suitable for both. 

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

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

Toddler Jammers

Available in 2-3 Years and 3-4 Years, these Toddler Jammers are designed to provide the same leak protection as the Happy Nappy™ in a grown-up short design. Whilst they still have the specialist rib around the waist, the Jammers swap the thigh cuff for medical grade silicone around the inside of the leg, forming a seal that will not allow leaks, but that is discreet.  The Toddler Splash Jammers are recommended by swim schools worldwide. 

Happy Nappy™ and Happy Nappy Duo™ 3T and 4T

Our well loved Happy Nappy™ and Happy Nappy Duo™ is now available in selected styles in sizes 3-4 years and 4-5 years. This gives another option to parents of toddlers who still need swim nappy support and who know and trust the Happy Nappy™ and its benefits.

Kids & Adult Jammers

Available in kids sizes up 9 Years and Adults from x-small size to x-large, they work in the same way as the toddler jammers with a snug fitting waist rib and silicone seal on the thighs to keep in all solid leaks. They look just like swimming shorts and can be worn on their own or worn with other swimwear over the top. There are styles suitable for boys and girls or unisex designs.