You may be feeling a little nervous when it comes to taking your baby to experience swimming for the first time, but you’ll soon learn that most babies love water play.
It’s a wonderful sensory experience for them as they get to splash about in the wetness all under your watchful eye.
Along with getting the travel bag packed for your trip to the local pool, one thing that is an absolute must when taking your baby swimming is a nappy. It has to be a suitable baby swim nappy that won’t get waterlogged and make the whole water experience a total misery for both you and baby.
What type of swim nappies are there?
Swim nappies can either be disposable or reusable and are available at most supermarkets and pharmacies.
Disposable swim nappies - They look like regular nappies and are thrown away after one use. If you opt for these you may need to take a few more as back up especially if you’re heading to the seaside or going to the beach. Your baby can’t wear them for extended periods of time when they are wet as it can cause nappy rash.
Reusable swim nappies - These tend to look like small pants, shorts or part of a swimsuit that can be washed and worn again. They are designed to dry quickly so if your child has come out of the water there isn’t a risk of nappy rash.
What features to look for in a swim nappy?
- Leakage - Swim nappies are designed to contain most stools until you can remove your child from the water and to the toilet. However, loose stools and urine will not be stopped by swim nappies from leaking into the water. Make sure you take your child to the toilet at regular intervals during the swimming session.
- Size - Disposable swim nappies are sized in the same way as standard nappies. Make sure you choose a fit that will be secure and snug.
- Adjustable tabs - Parents who tested swim nappies for our Mother&Baby Awards mentioned the swim nappies they preferred had adjustable tabs for babies in between sizes so they could make sure they were more secure.
- Cost - If you plan to take your baby swimming regularly, think about the cost of a disposable baby swim nappy compared to a reusable baby swim nappy as you could spend more over time rather than one investment.
To make sure we are providing you with expert advice about what products to by many of our recommendations have been tested by an army of mums whose verdicts help decide just who deserves to get the coveted gold, silver and bronze rosettes in our Mother&Baby Awards.
Read on for our pick of the best baby swim nappies:
Winner of Gold for Best Swimming Product in the Mother&Baby Awards 2021
Splash About has designed the most reliable, reusable baby swim nappy, the New Happy Nappy. Fully-tested and approved by UK swim-schools it offers maximum protection against faecal leaks due to its distinctive ergonomic design. Technically constructed from malleable neoprene, with contoured panels to cup baby's bottom, innovative fitted gusset and specialist-pressured fabric at the waist and legs to provide a secure, comfortable seal. This form-fitting swim nappy moves as baby moves, but uniquely there's no gaping, regardless of how baby kicks/twists in water.
- Leakage protection? Secure seal around legs and waist
- Size: 0-3 months
- Reusable or disposable? Reusable
- Material: Neoprene
M&B mum tester Naomi said: "The happy nappy is a great product. It makes swimming so much easier. The fit on them is amazing and there is no risk of leaks with these. I love the reusable wrap liner as this avoids all the waste of disposable swim nappies. They fit really well, even on my chubby legged baby. There is no gaping around the tummy or legs but they seem comfortable and not too tight."
M&B mum tester Ruth said: "The design of the swim nappy makes it really reassuring that you won't have any leaks due to the high stopped back meaning it doesn't gape. The nappies are comfortable to wear and baby can still move about in the water easily. The option to use the nappy liners and wrap makes it more hygienic and able to re enter the water again after disposing of them."
M&B mum tester Krystina said: "I absolutely love this happy nappy. When I take my baby swimming I always take this with me. It gives me piece of mind that if he goes to the toilet whilst in the pool he will be 100% secure! This happy nappy first really well without digging in which some others do. It’s easy to wash and drys quick so it’s ready if you need it again the next day."
Read Mother&Baby's full review of the Splash About New Happy Nappy here
Winner of Silver for Best Swimming Product in Mother&Baby Awards 2021
Charlie Banana swim nappies are great swimming nappies and potty training pants in one. There is no need to use disposable swim nappies as reusable ones do the job perfectly for the pool or beach. Charlie Banana 2-in-1 Swim Diaper & Training pants have a waterproof, outer layer and a soft organic cotton interior lining, which is gentle against your baby's skin. These make ideal training pants when potty training a child because of the trim fit, easy removal and a fine absorbent layer to minimize little accidents!
- Leakage protection? No
- Size: S (10-14 lbs), M (14-20 lbs), L (20-27 lbs), XL (27-55 lbs)
- Adjustable? Yes
- Resusable or disposable? Resuable
- Material: Polyester, Polyurethane, Organically Grown Cotton
M&B mum tester Libby: "We have been using reusable nappies and have been keen to switch to reusable swimming nappies in order to save money, reduce wastage and be more environmentally friendly as a family. These nappies are so beautifully designed it makes it exciting for both my son and I. The nappy is an all in one nappy, which is easily washable and dries relatively quickly (within 36 hours). I have absolutely no reservations in using them in the future."
M&B mum tester Bonnie: "I would definitely recommend these Charlie Banana 2 in 1 Swim Diaper & Training Pants to a mum friend. The pants keep in what was needed to be kept in and it's great that's it's reusable. Easily dried in the sun so can wear over and over and over again thoroughout the day if rinsed and left to dry in the sun."
M&B mum tester Harriet: "This swim nappy is very easy to use. I really like the pull up style as opposed to Velcro or popper like other reusable swim nappies I have. It makes putting it on a wriggly baby very easy. Because of the drawstring it is also very easy to undo and take off while wet too. The nappy can also be used as training pants so it does have an absorbant part but I didn’t find this to be too bulky while in the water which is good."
Read Mother&Baby's full review of the Charlie Banana 2 in 1 Swim Diaper & Training Pants here.
Shortlisted for Best Swimming Product in Mother&Baby Awards 2021.
The TotsBots reusable swim nappy is the perfect addition to any swim kit. Ideal for lounging at the seaside, paddling in the garden or splashing at the local pool. This swim nappy has elasticated legs and adjustable waist for a super-soft flexible fit and neoprene free so no chaffing for baby. Quick and easy waist fastenings means no pulling down poopy nappies over baby's legs and with soft fleece interior next to skin too for maximum comfort in and out of the water. Made from recycled plastic bottles and manufactured with love in the UK.
- Leakage protection? Yes, snug fit
- Size: Size 1 (10-20lbs) and Size 2 (20-35lbs), Toddler
- Adjustable? Yes
- Resusable or disposable? Reusable
- Material: Polyester, Plastic, Terrycloth lining
M&B mum tester Poppy: "My son hates wearing single use swimming nappies as they tend to leave imprints at the top of his legs, however the TotsBots nappy is so soft and comfortable on him that we had no issues at all and he seemed to love wearing it. He also wears swimming shorts which fit perfectly over the swimming nappy as they’re not big and bulky like some. The waterproof bag that comes with the nappy is also great as it fit everything in until we could clean them properly once home."
M&B mum tester Roisin: "We tested this product while we were on holiday and were taking my daughter swimming in the pool and the sea. By using a reusable product, it minimised the amount we needed to pack by saving on the use of disposables. The wet bag that came with it was very handy for keeping the nappy separate from other clothes after use."
M&B mum tester Sam K: "The great thing about this is, it can just be chucked in the bag after use along side all the other swim gear after use, no need to go and search for a nappy bin. The fact it’s reusable means it gets washed and put away with everything else, ready to go next time. No more realising you've got no swim nappies left just as your heading into the changing room!"
Read Mother&Baby's full review of TotsBots Reusable swim nappy here.
Winner of Silver for Best Swimming Product in Mother&Baby Awards 2020.
The swim nappy and swim rash top is the perfect duo for when your baby takes a dip in the summer. They both include UPF 50+ protection so your baby's delicate, sensitive skin is protected in the high temperatures. It also contains spandex for ultimate stretchy comfort.
- Leakage protection? No
- Size: S-XL (6 month to 2 years)
- Adjustable: No
- Resusable or disposable? Reusable
- Material: Cotton, polyester with polyurethane coating
M&B mum tester Clare: The Bambino Mio swim nappy and rash vest are easy to use and very good quality. The reusable swim nappy means I no longer use a disposable nappy and is more environmentally friendly and hopefully more cost-effective long term. The rash vest means better sun protection for my child when on holiday.
M&B mum tester Natasha: It's been lovely to find a swimming product for a child that doesn't stick to them when you try and change them after a swimming session. As a mother of triplets, and now also 7-month-old, we have tried a lot of swimming products and this one is lovely. The material is great and very pretty and the drawstring to the front of the bottoms makes it very easy to get it on over swim nappies and so on.
M&B mum tester Carly: I would recommend this product to my mum's friends because it seemed really well made, and lasted a long time. Compared to disposable swim nappies, my baby doesn't get a rash, and I have not had to worry about buying new disposable nappies. The swim nappy looked like it fit my baby really well too, and didn't restrict his movement as some disposables do.
Read M&B's full review of the Bambino Mio swim nappy set here.
Winner of Bronze for Best Swimming Product in Mother&Baby's Awards in 2019
Huggies Little Swimmers swim nappies make swimming with your baby fun by giving you and your baby freedom to enjoy the water without the worry of little accidents. The unique absorbent material ensures these nappies don't swell in the water and they are designed with unique easy open sides for quick removal when your baby is wet, as well as leak guards to help stop leaks around the legs. They come in fun, colourful Disney designs too (to help you identify the back or front!).
- Leakage protection? Yes, leak guards
- Size: Size 2-3 (3Kg-8Kg) Toddler
- Adjustable? Yes
- Resusable or disposable? Disposable, 12 pack
- Material: Plastic
M&B mum tester Bryony: "I would recommend this product because of the side tape features. Other swim nappies on the market are pull up only which can be really frustrating if your child is not in a cooperative mood. The fit was good and so there was no leakage. The durability was also good. They seemed comfortable and there was no chaffing or soreness."
M&B mum tester Stacey: "The design is bright, colourful and appealing to children. The pant style makes it very easy to put them on and the top sides make it very easy to remove. The swim pant is very thin and not bulky at all making it easy to store them and put them in a swimming bag. They are comfortable for a child to wear and the size covers a broad range."
M&B mum tester Emma: "Yes I would recommend them to friends or a fellow mum. They are very easy to use and of good quality. After a recent swimming session, I discovered my little girl had been to the toilet in her swimming nappy. It did not leak at all so I was very impressed. I like the cartoon designs and they are easily distinguishable from regular nappies."
Read M&B's full review of Huggies Little Swimmers here.
Shortlisted for Best Swimming Products in Mother&Baby's Awards 2020 and 2021.
Pampers Splashers are perfect for little ones to splash around in. Unlike regular nappies, they have a no swell core which makes them a comfortable fit when wet or dry. Splashers 360° stretchy waistband and dual leak-guard barrier gives the feel of swimwear but still prevents any messes and they have easy tear sides to help with a quick and easy removal.
Leakage protection? Yes
Size: Size 3 to 6
Resusable or disposable? Disposable, pack of 12
Material: Cotton & plant based materials
M&B mum tester Amy: This product is easy and quick to put on. The last thing you want is to mess about with an awkward nappy when your little one wants to get on and have some fun. The easy tear side strips make getting the nappy off quick and easy too, so you can get on with getting changed quickly and not getting cold.
M&B mum tester Rachel: These nappies were great, I loved how they were so easy to use and much more durable than other brands I have used. The stretchy sides were very useful when putting on a baby, I found them to be easy to pull up even on a wriggly baby. The nappy doesn’t swell like other brands which meant the baby was secure for our swim. The easy rip sides were great for pulling when trying to get the baby dry after the swim.
M&B mum tester Hannah: They were very easy to use when we went to the beach and in the sea. It was easier that they were pull ups so I didn’t have to lay him down to put it on and take it off. It didn’t get really heavy either when he went in the sea. Much quicker to use than a disposable nappy because they can be pulled up/down in standing.
Read M&B's full review of Pampers Splashers Swim Nappy here.
Winner of Bronze for Best Swimming Products in Mother&Baby Awards 2019.
ASDA Swim Nappies are perfect for helping your little one make a splash in the pool! They're wonderfully soft to keep your baby comfy and the secure fastening provides snug protection.
- Leakage protection? Yes
- Size: S, newborn
- Adjustable? Yes
- Resusable or disposable? Disposable, pack of 13
- Material: Not known
M&B mum tester Sammie: "The swim nappy is much cheaper than standard branded swim nappies. We use these nappies at swimming lessons and they have to be worn under a neoprene nappy. Sometimes this can be quite tight to fit on both. However, they fitted nicely on together and seemed a secure fit to prevent any leaks in the pool."
M&B mum tester Sarah: "I really like the fact that it is styled as a nappy pull up pant rather than the traditional style nappy with tabs on the side. This makes it much easier to put on my wriggling toddler and I can put it on him whilst standing rather than looking for a changing table to lie him down on. They are very easy to remove too by just tearing the sides rather than having to encourage him to step out of it."
M&B mum tester Holly: "These swim nappies are pretty much the same as other swim nappies out there and they are a fraction of the price. They're also pulling up which my son is used to so it makes changing the nappy even easier. I don't need to use a changing unit at the pool I can just do it whilst he is standing up. The same goes for taking off the nappy as the sides rip."
Read M&B's full review of ASDA Little Angels Swim Range here.
This cute swim nappy comes in a number of fun prints and has been designed to keep accidents better contained. With coordinating hats available, you’re bound to fall in love with one of these cute looks and it has SPF50+ protection built in.
- Leakage protection? No
- Size: 0-3 mths, 3-6 mths, 6-12 mths, 1-2 yrs, 2-3 yrs
- Adjustable? No
- Resusable or disposable? Reusable
- Material: Cotton
Review: "My daughter is starting swimming lessons soon so I’m really excited about her wearing her new really pretty swim knickers. I’ve bought the matching swim hat for use in the summer too."
When can babies go swimming?
According to the NHS, 'You can take your baby swimming at any age, both before and after they have been vaccinated. It does not matter if they have not yet completed their course of vaccinations.' So really, the choice is completely yours.
What do I need to take my baby swimming?
- Swim nappies
- A swimming costume or baby wetsuit
- Your baby's favourite bath toy
- A soft towel or towelling dressing gown
- A snack if your baby is weaning. Swimming is hungry work!
- A bottle of milk if you're bottle-feeding
- A changing mat and your changing bag
- Your own swimsuit and a change of underwear!
How do I wash reusable swim nappies?
So that your reusable swim nappy doesn’t lose shape they should be hand washed in cool water. If your baby has soiled their nappy then wash it on a gentle cycle in the washing machine.
Baby swimming lessons
Indoor pools have opened again across the UK and swimming lessons have resumed. If you would like some in-person support when taking your baby swimming, why not see if your pool offers swimming lessons or classes? It's a great way to meet other parents and for your youngster to see other babies in the same situation as them.
There are also plenty of swimming programmes in leisure centres or indoor pools available especially for babies all around the country. Here are a few programmes to look into:
- Turtle Tots
- Water Babies
- Puddle Ducks
- Little Dippers
What to read next?
A guide to baby swimming with advice from Rebecca Adlington
The best baby swim floats and swimming aids for toddlers
The best paddling pools to cool the whole family down
The best baby swimsuits, surfsuits, and wetsuits