Can You Use Cloth Diapers As Swim Diapers?

Can You Use Cloth Diapers As Swim Diapers?

People often ask us - Hey, Simple Being, can you use cloth diapers as swim diapers? So here’s everything you need to know about cloth diapers, reusable swim diapers, and water safety. But, spoiler alert - No, you can not use regular cloth diapers as swim diapers.

Instead, you need to use a swim diaper, made especially for use in the water. Let’s take a look at why. 

How do Swim Diapers work?

All swim diapers, whether reusable or disposable, are made to hold feces in and let fluids out. The leg cuffs and waist are snug to prevent the escape of poop, and the fabric doesn’t absorb much water.

Although a regular cloth diaper looks similar and, in many ways, is similar, its essential purpose is different. 

Cloth diapers are made to absorb and hold in as much fluid as possible. The outer layer or cover prevents those fluids from leaking and soaking into clothes, bedding, or the unsuspecting lap of whoever is holding a baby when they pee.

Why Can’t You Use a Regular Cloth Diaper in the Water?

There are three reasons why you can’t use a regular cloth diaper as a swim diaper.

Regular Reusable Diapers Soak Up Water 

When a child wears a regular cloth diaper in the water, that diaper will soak up fluid until it is saturated. Depending on your preferred diaper style, either the PUL layer or the cover will hold as much of that fluid in as possible. This makes it difficult to move, feels super uncomfortable, and has the potential to be dangerous by weighing a child down. 

Using a regular cloth diaper in the water is just like wrapping several large towels around your waist, covering them in waterproof fabric to prevent any of the water from escaping, and trying to swim.

Did you know, a cloth diaper can, under some circumstances, hold up to two pounds of water?

Yes, you read that right - two pounds!

Regular Cloth Diapers Keep Fluid In

Also, the outer layer of a reusable swim diaper is different from regular cloth diapers. Unlike the standard outer layer of a cloth diaper, the outside of a reusable swim diaper is better able to withstand the chlorine in public pools and water parks.

Fewer Poops Escape From Swim Diapers

A group of six babies in a circle, in the swimming pool with their legs pointing inward.

Regular cloth diapers are snug at the legs and waist to prevent nuggets of poop from escaping. 

However, If you use a standard reusable diaper in the water, it will take on an excessive amount of water which can, under some circumstances, cause it to push the cuffs away from the skin.

This will increase the chance of poop getting out and floating off into the water.

On the other hand, reusable swim diapers tend to have a wider cuff area at the waist and legs. This, combined with the fact they do not take on water, is what prevents your baby’s poo from escaping.

Entirely Breastfed Babies, Poop, and Swim Diapers

A quick note for those with entirely breastfed babies. As you know, the poop of EBF babies tends to be more liquid and is water-soluble. 

If your EBF baby does an especially liquid poop while wearing a swim diaper in the pool, their poop will begin to dissolve and leak through the swim diaper fabric. This can cause faint, slightly yellow clouds to drift from your diaper.

So it is especially important to keep an eye out for your little one’s “I’m doing a poop” face while you are in the pool.

Swim Diaper Guidelines

Some public pools, water parks, and other water-based attractions have specific requirements for swim diapers? It is always worth calling ahead or checking their website to ensure you are not caught unawares.

While using a swim diaper is as easy as putting on a regular cloth diaper, there are some health, safety, and comfort considerations you should know.Baby in cloth swim diaper is standing on the beach with their hands and head in the sand.

Reusable Swim Diapers in Natural Environments


If you are in a natural body of water, such as the ocean, a lake, or a stream, check your child’s diaper once every 30 to 60 minutes. That is if they haven’t alerted you by pulling their “poop face,” being fussy, or sending you a waft of poo stink!

This way, you minimize the chance of your little one having poop next to their skin for longer than necessary.

Reusable Swim Diapers in the Pool and Similar Settings

Take your baby through the shower with you before getting into the pool. One minute of washing with water is enough to remove sweat, dirt, and other contaminants that react with chlorine and can cause irritation to the eyes, nose, airways, and skin.

Cloth Swim Diapers and Poop

Once you are in the water, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you check your child’s swim diaper every 30-60 minutes.  This is because, as the CDC tells us, although swim diapers prevent the escape of feces, they don’t prevent germs from poop entering the water for more than a few minutes.

So, if your child poops in their swim diaper, you should get out of the water and change it as soon as possible.

Cloth Swim Diapers and Pee

If you spend more than an hour in the pool, either constantly or in short bursts, the CDC also recommends you change your child’s swim diaper whether it is holding any solid waste or not.


Because urine reacts with the chlorine used to keep the pool water clean. This chemical reaction produces compounds called chloramines that irritate the eyes, skin, and respiratory system.

The chloramines give swimming pools their distinct “ clean chlorine swimming pool” smell, not the chlorine itself. Therefore, the stronger the chemical smell is in the pool, the more chloramines are in the air, and the higher the chance for irritation.

Cloth Diapers in Spray Pads

If your toddler wobbles their way across a spray pad while wearing their cloth diaper, it’s not the end of the world. They may get a little weighed down by the excess water around their behind, but that’s about it.

When you get home and change the diaper, be sure to give the outside of the diaper, or the cover, a thorough clean under the tap to wash off any chlorine.

However, don’t intentionally go out to the spray pad with your little one in a regular cloth diaper. The water will weigh down your child’s diaper, which can throw off their balance and cause them to take a tumble.

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