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Ultimate Guide to Reusable Swim Nappies

The Ultimate Guide to Reusable Swim Nappies

Most little ones love the water and, in Australia, a dip at the pool or trip to the beach is a favourite pass time. Getting your baby used to the water at an early age is a great idea and one of the first steps to teaching water safety.

But, that leads to one problem - baby poo and water don’t mix very well! The solution? Swim nappies! In this guide to reusable swim nappies, we’ll tell you all there is to know and show you how easy it is to ditch the disposables.

What are Reusable Swim Nappies?

Reusable swim nappies are exactly what you might be imagining. They’re nappies specifically designed for swimming and water play that you can wash and reuse over and over again.

There are two main differences between swim nappies and regular nappies. Swim nappies don’t have an absorbent core that swells up in the water and they’re pull up style, with elasticated legs and waists.

How Do Reusable Swim Nappies Work?

All baby swimming nappies, whether they’re disposable or reusable, are designed to contain poos but not wees. Many parents don’t realise that urine is supposed to pass through the nappy into the surrounding water, rather than be soaked up.

Urine is actually sterile when it leaves the body so it’s not classed as a health hazard. It might not be a very nice idea but, let’s be real, many people probably wee in the ocean and pool all the time, whether they like to admit it or not!

Swim nappies are designed to catch poo but that doesn’t mean they hold poo for an extended period of time. You still have to be on the watch and get out of the water to change baby if they do poop. What swim nappies really do is give you that vital extra time needed to get out and deal with the dirty nappy before it escapes.

Why Do You Need a Swim Nappy?

Baby swim nappies are a must in pools - local pool policies will always require that babies wear some kind of nappies for swimming. There are a couple of reasons why (we’ll assume “It’s embarrassing to have your baby poo in a public pool” goes without saying)

  • Cost - If an accident does happen, a pool will likely have to close completely to be drained and/or treated with chemicals. Public pools are usually pretty understanding if genuine accidents happen as long as you’re taking every precaution to prevent them. If you blatantly float the rules though, you might be expected to pay back those costs.
  • Hygiene - By containing the poo, swim nappies give you a little extra time before microorganisms begin leaking into the water. Urine may be sterile but faeces is not and it could contain harmful bacteria. Plus, nobody wants to go for a relaxing swim in a poopy swimming pool!

What is a Reusable Swim Nappy Made of?

Waterproof nappies have two main parts which each serve a different purpose.

  • Inner Mesh - This inner part is designed to catch the solid waste whilst letting urine move through freely. A good inner layer gives the poo something to cling to briefly for some vital extra time to get out of the water.
  • Outer Layer - The outer layer is waterproof and usually made from a breathable PUL (polyurethane laminate) designed to keep the poo contained. Many brands of swim nappies have a wide range of colours and designs on the outer layer.

Why Should You Choose a Reusable Swim Nappy?

Disposable swim nappies are single use just like regular disposable nappies. They’re designed to be used once and then thrown away.

At Hello Natural Living we often talk about the “cradle to grave” impact of a product. The thought of all that manufacturing and effort going into a swim nappy for it to be used once, for a very short period, and thrown into landfill is exactly what we try to avoid.

As well as environmental factors, there could be some serious cost savings if you use reusable swim nappies, especially if you swim with your little one often.

Cost Savings

When thinking long term, reusable swim nappies can be much more cost effective to use than disposables. If you plan on having regular swim lessons with your little one, have a pool or live in a warm climate and swimming is something you do regularly, you will probably save some serious money.

Disposable swim nappies aren’t usually too expensive but the cost really adds up if you use a few a week. Remember, if baby does a poo 5 minutes into your swim, you’ll need a new nappy straight away so you could use more than one disposable every time you take a dip.

Most swim nappies also come in adjustable sizes. So, if you are an infrequent swimmer, you don’t need to waste money buying a whole pack just for baby to have grown out of them before you’ve finished the pack.

Environmental Considerations

Using reusable Swim nappies means you won’t be adding to landfill every time you take a swim with your baby. When they’re taken care of, they could even be used for multiple children to lessen the environmental impact even further.

Just like cloth nappies, there are a few ways that you can keep the environmental impact of swim nappies down.

  • Washing temperature - Washing on a cold wash is a much more eco friendly option and it’ll use less power, saving you money on your energy bills.
  • How you dry - Tumble dryers use even more energy and a more environmentally friendly option is to line dry your swim nappies. Better still, if dried on the line in direct sunlight, stains will naturally bleach out.
  • Chemicals used in washing - Use detergents that are low in toxic chemicals to help the environment. They’re also kinder to babies sensitive skin.

Different Types of Reusable Swim Nappies

There aren’t as many types of swim nappies as there are regular cloth nappies but you still have a few types to choose from. It’s a good idea to put some thought into which type best suits your personal situation.

  • Press Studs - This type of swim nappy look very similar to modern cloth nappies and are usually one size fits all and will grow with your baby. These are great option for regular swimmers who want to be able to adjust themselves as baby grows for the perfect fit.
  • Drawstring - These make good newborn swim nappies as they usually come in the option of a small size. Press stud nappies can be big and bulky for particularly small babies and these are a great alternative.
  • Pull Up - This style of swim nappy are great for toilet training toddlers. Some look a little bit like modern cloth nappies and others are more like long trunks and made from a wetsuit type material like neoprene.

Reusable Swim Nappy Sizes

Reusable swim nappies are sized differently depending on the style of nappy and the brand.

Many press stud nappies are one size fits all and will grow with your baby as they get older. Just like modern cloth nappies, they have adjustable snap fastenings around the legs and waist so you can be sure to get a snug fit.

It’s common for other styles of nappies, like pull ups and drawstring types, to be sized according to babies age or weight. You might see them described as small, medium, or large but they will usually come with an age/weight guide as well. Check specific brands product descriptions to be sure you’re getting the best size.

How Many Do You Need?

You can usually get away with just one swim nappy that fits well. However, it’s a smart idea to have a back up, just in case. We all know how our little angels like to surprise us and do a poo as soon as you put a new nappy on them!

How to Clean Reusable Swim Nappies

Cleaning reusable swim nappies is quick and easy. If you use cloth nappies, the process is much the same.

  1. Dispose of the poo by shaking it into the toilet.
  2. Rinse in cold water or soak if you’re not washing straight away.
  3. Wash in the washing machine.
  4. Preferably air dry to protect the outer waterproof layer as much as possible.

If you’ve rinsed all the poo and soaked the nappy there’s no reason why it can’t be washed in with your normal load. Cold water washes are more eco friendly but warm washes are fine if you have a particularly dirty load.

Try not to use a tumble dryer and air dry as much as possible. This will prolong the life off the nappy by protecting the outer waterproof layer. It’s also more eco friendly and line drying in direct sunlight will naturally bleach any stubborn stains.

Where to Buy Reusable Swim Nappies

If you’re wondering where to buy reusable swim nappies, Australia has plenty of brands and options. We've got some of the best reusable swim nappies right here at Hello Charlie. 

Pea Pods Reusable Swim Nappies

I used the Pea Pods swim nappies with my kids for years and really love them. They have a soft cotton inner lining and a contoured fit. My kids were real water babies and would wear them for long periods of time without any discomfort.

The elastic legs and tummy were really good at containing accidents and they come in three sizes, small, medium, or large. They come in a choice of colours and patterns so you’re sure to find something you like.

Take a look at more reviews on Hello Charlie.

Baby Beehinds Washable Swim Nappies

Baby Beehinds have adjustable sizing, with press studs and a velcro-style waistband. These work for most sizes and ages, with the weight range going from approximately 4kgs all the way up to 16kgs. 

Again, there's a beautiful range of colours and patterns.

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