Baby in pink float tube

Swim Diapers vs. Regular Diapers: What's Best?

By: Brooke Hamilton


As a parent, you are probably already very familiar with diapers. You make sure they are always in the house, you keep extras in your car or your diaper bag, and you probably even have a favorite brand.

Even still, if you are heading into summer as a first-time parent, you may wonder - what is a swim diaper, and when should you use it? When considering swim diapers vs regular diapers, the best option for your baby depends on their environment and needs.

Are you curious about swim diapers? Below, we’ll discuss the difference between swim diapers and regular diapers. We’ll also guide you through which to choose and when to use each one.

What Are Swim Diapers?

Swim diapers are intentionally designed for wear in water and might be a must-have if you’re planning a trip to the beach or pool with your little one. They have a water-wicking outer layer, and feature added reinforcements at the waist and legs for a secure fit.

A swim diaper is a baby’s best defense against a water-logged bottom when worn under a bathing suit. To prevent diaper rash, though, it's important to change your little one’s diapers frequently to ensure a happy and healthy swimming experience.

Swim diapers aren’t just an aesthetic look-alike for regular diapers when beach day is around the bend—they serve a very practical purpose, too. So, make sure you have them packed away in your diaper bag along with your beach essentials for toddlers before embarking on your fun-filled summer day!

The Purpose of Swim Diapers

Whether you and your baby are building sandcastles at the beach or looking forward to pool time play, swim diapers serve a few purposes:

  • Comfort and coverageSwim diapers are less absorbent than regular diapers, so your baby's diaper is less likely to get water-logged. Made of fabrics that hug, they are designed to be snug around your baby's thighs and waist. This way, they are more effective at keeping out nature's natural irritants like sand and seaweed. 

  • Sanitary swimming – If your baby is not yet potty trained, you will want to add a swim diaper to your diaper bag or beach tote. Swim diapers minimize messy accidents and can prevent contaminants and germs from leaking into water.

So, how do regular diapers compare to swim diapers in wet environments? 

Regular Diapers: What You Need to Know

Composed of a cache of low-density, durable, and stress-resistant materials, regular diapers are designed to move with your baby and reduce the chances of any leaks.

The essential element in diapers is sodium polyacrylate—a fast-acting polymer that can absorb 800 times its weight in distilled water. When your baby goes to the bathroom, sodium polyacrylate essentially acts like a sponge.

Challenges of Regular Diapers in Water

Regular diapers are the natural choice for wear on dry land, but their sponge-like qualities pose some challenges at the beach or pool. When regular diapers come in contact with water, they:

  • Become waterlogged

  • Are no longer effective in supporting a baby’s bathroom needs

  • Become heavy and uncomfortable

  • Are at risk of slipping off

Though both are diapers, regular and swim diapers have fundamental differences that set them apart.

Key Differences Between Swim Diapers and Regular Diapers for Swimming

The distinction between swim diapers and regular diapers is their performance in and out of water. Regular diapers are durable and made with hyper-absorbent materials. 4 However, if placed in the water, they quickly become waterlogged and no longer serve their primary purpose.

If you’re heading to the beach, pool, or splash pad, swim diapers are the intuitive choice for your little one. Swim diapers can secure most solids but let liquids pass. So, if your baby is experiencing an upset tummy or a day or two of diarrhea, consider rescheduling your aquatic adventure until they feel better. 3

When using a swim diaper, check it every 30–60 minutes to prevent contaminants from entering the water. 3 And when you’re done with water play, head to the changing station to swap your baby’s swim diaper for a regular diaper and wrap them in a hooded towel so they dry quickly. 

How to Choose the Right Size and Fit

Whether you're looking for regular or swim diapers, finding the right size and fit can enhance overall effectiveness and comfort.

Consider your baby’s age, weight, waist, and thigh circumference when shopping for swim diapers. Be sure to check the corresponding measurements of your swim diaper selections—a good rule of thumb is to choose a size similar to your child’s regular diaper.

Wearing a Diaper with Swimwear

If you expect your baby to spend more time in the sand than swimming, pairing  kids' swimwear  with a regular diaper is okay. However, we suggest bringing a swim diaper in your beach bag, just in case. It doesn't take long for a regular diaper to swell and become water-logged, even with a few splashes!

Swim in Style with Posh Peanut

Swim diapers and regular diapers share several similarities; however, each diaper acts differently when it comes in contact with the water. Ultimately, regular diapers are the go-to when conditions are dry, but swim diapers win out in the water for their comfort and functionality.

Now that you’re shopping for the best swim diaper for your baby, do you need to check adorable swimwear off the list, too?

Whether your baby splashes around the beach or shows off poolside, Posh Peanut has you covered. Our collection of swimsuits and trunks channel the epitome of fun summer energy with playful prints and dynamic designs. We even have matching swimwear for the whole family!