Everything Babies Need to Take Swimming (To Wear & Stay Safe!)

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Summer with a new baby brings all kinds of fun adventures, and when planning their first swim outing, you probably have a lot of questions. What do babies wear swimming? How can I keep my little one safe? What do I need to pack?

A day at the beach or even swimming in your own pool requires more preparation than it did before you had a little one in tow. At the minimum, you’ll need a swim diaper, swimsuit, sunscreen, and a towel. In addition to the basics, you’ll probably also want a hat, goggles, life jacket, and swim shoes, plus a wetbag to take everything home in!

Keep reading to find out everything babies need to take swimming, what the deal is with swim diapers, and a few extras that may make your outing even more successful.

What do babies need to wear swimming?

To plan a successful outing at the pool or beach, you’ll need the right gear.

Your little one should have a swimsuit, swim diaper, water shoes, sun hat, and possibly some sunglasses or goggles. You’ll also want to make a bag with the essentials like a towel, sunscreen, plenty of extra diapers, and a wetbag.

Do babies need to wear a swim diaper in the pool?

Most pools, water parks, and other public swimming locations will require that your baby wear a special kind of diaper known as a swim diaper. In fact, these regulations are usually in effect until the age of three. 

Swim facilities don’t want to deal with potty accidents (and who can blame them). A simple diaper leak could be the reason the whole pool must shut down for an afternoon for cleaning.

So in short, yes, your little one should have a swim diaper on anytime they go in the pool. It’s safer and more sanitary for them, you, and everyone else.

Should babies wear swim diapers under swimsuit?

Swim diapers replace your baby’s regular diaper while they are in the water and are meant to be worn under their swimsuit just as their regular diapers are worn under their clothes.

Baby swimming necessities

It’s important to make sure you have all the right gear in your swim tote to fully protect your baby and enjoy a safe day at the pool or beach!

Swim diaper

Your little one will need to wear a swim diaper under their bathing suit for at least the first few years of their life.

Unlike regular diapers, swim diapers are specifically designed so as not to absorb water (or urine) and it only traps feces. While it is necessary for your baby to wear a swim diaper in the pool, it should be removed immediately once you’re done swimming.

There are 2 types of swim diapers – disposable and reusable. Each kind has its own benefits as well as its own drawbacks. Deciding which kind is right for you will be dependent on what works best for your family.

Getting the proper fit is very important for swim diapers. Purchase a size too small and the tight material could cause rashes and chafing, but purchase a size too large and you could have leaks.

Be sure to do a trial run with your little one before getting in the pool. Their swim diaper size should generally be the same size as their regular diapers.

What’s the difference between a swim diaper and a regular diaper?

Regular diapers are insufficient for use in water. They will swell up, leak, and risk exposing others to harmful bacteria.

Swim diapers on the other hand are specially designed to be used in water, do not swell up like normal diapers, and do a better job of keeping in the poop.

Swim diapers do NOT hold in urine. You should put them on right before getting in the water in order to prevent any accidents and take them off as soon as possible afterward to prevent discomfort, diaper rashes, and chafing. They also must be changed as soon as they are soiled to prevent leaks from contaminating the pool.

Check your child’s swim diaper often, and always pack plenty of extras!

How do swim diapers work?

Regular disposable diapers contain a superabsorbent polymer that is capable of holding moisture and keeping it away from your baby’s skin.

Disposable swim diapers do not contain this material and so cannot hold urine. Instead, their main purpose is to trap your child’s poop. 

Swim diapers work by using a water-resistant outer layer such as polyester or neoprene as well as creating a snug fit around the legs to prevent leaks.

Do you layer diaper and swim diaper?

It is never a good idea to outfit your little one with a regular disposable diaper in the pool, even if you cover it up with a swim diaper on top.

This is because the absorbent materials of regular diapers will simply swell up with water the second you hit the pool. If you want to dress your little one in layers, it is better to layer a disposable swim diaper with a reusable one.

In addition, bathing suit bottoms can provide an extra layer of protection as well.

Sunscreen

In the right weather conditions, serious sunburns can occur in as little as 30 minutes!

Children are especially suspectable to burns, and many times a burn will not show up until hours after sun exposure. Look for a broad spectrum sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays to protect your baby’s precious skin.

Apply at least 15-20 minutes before getting in the water and reapply often.

Can baby use regular sunscreen?

Because the skin absorbs so much of what is placed on it, many parents strongly prefer to use natural and non-toxic sunscreen products that are specially formulated for babies.

In a pinch, your little one can use regular sunscreen without any immediate dangers as long as you are very careful when applying near their mouth, nose, and eyes.

However, a better option may be a sunscreen like Badger that is good for the whole family.

Swimsuits with sun protection

On the other hand, many parents would rather not use sunscreen for their little ones, even though natural options are available.

One of the best ways to protect your baby from the sun is to cover up as much of their precious little skin as possible and choose suits with maximum sun protection.

Look for a long-sleeved suit if possible and consider swim shorts or pants instead of a lower-coverage option. Many brands actually have verified sun protection built into the fabric to protect your baby from burns.

Hat 

You may not have thought about it, but your little one’s head likely needs some extra protection from the sun too.

This is where a good old floppy wide-brim sun hat comes in! The best hats are the ones that your child will leave on their head. Make sure they find it comfortable and that the brim fully covers their eyes when they have it on. 

Sunglasses or goggles

Just like the rest of them, your baby’s eyes are very sensitive – both to the brightness of the water and any chemicals used to keep the pool water clean. To help protect your little one’s eyes from both, you’ll need either a pair of swim goggles or wrap-around sunglasses.

You probably won’t need goggles until you have an older swimmer who is ready to go underwater, but if you think your baby may react strongly to having water accidentally splashed into their eyes, a pair of baby swim goggles could be a good idea.

If you plan on mostly sitting poolside, or spending the day at the beach, baby sunglasses are a great (and adorable) way to shield their little eyes from the harsh sun. Look for a pair with a comfortable and adjustable band that can grow with your child, and make sure it blocks both UVA and UVB rays.

Life jacket 

While there is some debate over whether or not life jackets are the best idea for young children, if you are going to be in a situation where a life jacket makes sense, such as on a boat or at the beach, then you’ll want to reach for a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket. Life jackets should be used with caution in a pool environment and never as a substitute for actually learning how to swim.

Are swim wings safe for baby?

The latest research shows that over-dependence on floatation devices could lead to tragic circumstances.

Swim wings and other arm floaties can easily malfunction or be removed in an instant without a parent noticing. In addition, swim wings and even life jackets can lead small children to develop a false sense of confidence in the water as well as upset proper function by keeping them in a vertical position.

Instead of relying on flotation devices, invest in quality swim lessons with a focus on water safety, and ensure that your baby never leaves your arms or your sight in the pool.

Water shoes or flip flops

It’s important to protect your little one’s feet in the water or when walking on the beach.

Even if your baby isn’t toddling around quite yet, water shoes can still be a great way to protect their feet from getting burned or encountering sharp objects that could be hidden in the sand.

It’s also a good idea for them to start getting used to the feeling of wearing water shoes now, as you will likely be purchasing them for your child for many years to come. A pair of infant flip flops with a back strap is also a great option.

Towel

When packing for a day at the beach or pool, you can’t forget the towels!

You may even want to pack extras to use as blankets, changing mats, or to clean up messes. Look for a towel that includes a hoodie for maximum coverage and enjoy the adorable photo op.

Wetbag

Wetbags are one of the greatest inventions for parents on the go!

When you have a bunch of wet clothes after a day at the beach or local swimming pool, you don’t want to simply stuff them in your bag or in the trunk of your car. Wetbags eliminate this problem by offering you a designated place to put all those wet items until you can get home to throw them in the washing machine!

They can be found in many sizes and most of the time come with a zipper and some sort of clip or handle for maximum convenience.

Nice to haves

If you’re planning on spending many long summer days in the water, you will probably want to invest in some high-quality baby-friendly pool or beach toys as well!

Here are a few of our top picks for baby’s nice-to-haves for a day at the beach or pool:

  • SwimWays Baby Spring Float Activity Center with Canopy – With this adorable pool float, you can shade your baby from the sun and give your arms a break too!
  • Green Toys My First Tugboat – Green Toys water toys are perfect for the pool or the bath and are durable enough to last your family for many years to come.
  • Monobeach Baby Beach Tent & Pool – If your idea of summer fun includes a day at the beach, you may enjoy a portable beach tent like this one which even doubles as a pool!
  • SwimSchool Splash Play Mat – Not quite ready to have your little one join their big siblings in the pool? Give this inflatable water seat a try.
  • Baby powder – Don’t particularly enjoy sand all over your car? Baby powder is excellent for removing sand from your baby’s skin (and yours too) before getting in the car. Simply air dry as much as possible and then gently rub the powder over any sandy areas. To make the task easier, you could also use a refillable powder pouch or special sand-off glove, or even invest in a special sand-free blanket for the whole family to prevent sandy mishaps in the first place.

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