Should kids in diapers be allowed in the pool?

diapers in pools?

And now, as they say, for something completely different. Since we often talk about travel and manners, one reader has brought up one of the most controversial subjects in the travel industry: diapers in pools.

I kid you not. A look at some of the forum activity on this topic suggests it’s a hot issue, with militant moms on one side who believe their offspring should bathe wherever, whenever and however they want, and those who think children in diapers shouldn’t be allowed to travel at all on the other.

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Who’s right?

Toni Vitanza is a flight attendant who is on medical leave, and she is troubled by the debate. She’s a frequent visitor to a cruise ship forum, where this issue often comes up.

The cruise lines — all of them — spell it out on their websites that you must not allow kids in diapers, or kids young enough to need them, in any pools or hot tubs, not even in the kid-friendly or family-friendly pools, and not even in so-called swim diapers.

This is a CDC, US Public Health Service type policy. There are certain ships — I think there are four on RCL — that have “splash zones” for non-toilet-trained infants and toddlers. Even Disney has this policy on their ships! (They just have, apparently, more/bigger/better “splash zones.”)

But, I think part of the problem is that travel agents and probably even cruise reps do not go out of their way to make this clear to parents before they take their money and have them sign on the dotted line. And parents fail to realize the policy and fail to realize that ship pools have different filtration systems and rules governing what they can discharge into the ocean.

Diapers in pools: a health hazard

For her, diapers in pools are a real health hazard.

I’ve seen people simply take their baby’s diaper off and dangle them in water after they were approached by staff. Godawful! A lot of cruisers are immunocompromised to a degree (not so sick they can’t cruise, but, as my cruise companion is, having undergone chemo, for example) and they don’t need this kind of exposure.

In the cruise forums, I have seen some lively debates on this issue.

Reader Lauren Bear agrees: The diapers are out of control.

We’ve seen diapers and kids who were too young to be unprotected wearing normal swim trunks. We spoke with staff several times and nothing was done. We spent most of our time in the adult pool. I feel the cruise lines are very irresponsible on this one.

Diapers in pools at your hotel

Of course, this isn’t limited to cruise lines. Hotel pools get their fair share of diaper-wearing kids. I was at a waterpark resort last weekend and saw a fair number of kids in diapers. As the father of three, I’ve also had some, er, personal experience with kids, diapers and pools. And I’m here to tell you, the “swimmy” diapers don’t work. The only way to guarantee there’s no contamination is to keep the kids out of the water.

I would be inclined to side with Lauren and Toni, that kids who aren’t toilet trained should stay out of the pool. For me, it’s a matter of good manners.

But if there are any moms (or dads) — militant or otherwise — who think their kids deserve to go into the pool before they’re toilet-trained, speak now.

Should kids in diapers be allowed in cruise ship and hotel pools?

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5 thoughts on “Should kids in diapers be allowed in the pool?

  1. The decision should be left up to the person who owns/operates the pool.  If I own an amusement park and clearly post the rules & risks for each of our pools it is then left up to the consumer whether they want to use those pools.

    If you are a 40 year old, child hating, control freak you can choose to stay away from our family pools that welcome small children.  

    If you are a parent of a child who generally chooses not to drink pool water anyway, and feel the benefits of the family pool outweigh the risks, you will likely enjoy the opportunity to swim with your younger children.

    This is not a one-size-fits-all situation.  As long as precautions are taken and the rules are clearly stated each person should decide for themselves which pools they and their children use.

    Taking your young child for a guided swim in the pool seems perfectly natural to me.  There should be facilities where parents can do this responsibly. 

  2. I happen to know a friend that took care of an olympic size pool for a private christian college.  He said that it is state law that you must empty a pool if a child has an “an accident” in the pool referring to a bowel movement.  However, he also stated that there is enough chlorine in a pool that is kept by a professional, that even urine by the time it hits the water, all elements of any kind of a nature that could bring on a sickness is out of the question!  Do you know how many children and ADULTS urinate in pools and saunas every day, everywhere?  And let’s not forget how many incontinent men and women are out there!  Go back to John Baker’s note which said that his public health board have an opinion that children in swim diapers pose MINIMAL risk to other swimmers.  You are more likely to get sick from your kitchen table!  Do your research, please.  Sincerely, Louise A

  3. Why go on a cruise with a baby anyway? But yeah, kids in diapers need to stay out of pools. And their idiotic parents need to be slapped upside the head. Is it really that hard to keep a kid out of a pool for 2 years or however long?

    1. I guess you also don’t believe in allowing children to learn how to swim either. It is optimal for a child, very young, to learn to swim. My twin babies, who are 4 months, will be learning at 6 months of age so if they fall in when I am watching the other baby, they will know what to do to get to safety. Geez.. That’s what I find so offensive about this blog.. There seems to be no care about a child learning to swim. They can’t learn to swim in those dinky baby pools and I agree with the above poster.. It’s baby haters who say blankly kids don’t belong in any pool. I also think a parent needs to be aware of the rules and get educated about swim diapers. I will be using cloth swim diapers with another plastic pant on top of that because disposable swim diapers are really bad and expensive. If a cruise line says that babies who aren’t potty trained and have to use swim diapers, then parents should obey those rules, but urine is sterile and if it isn’t, chlorine will kill everything else off. Poo would be contained in diapers.

  4. We are in a condo complex with a beautiful pool. We have a 20 month old baby girl. She doesn’t go in the pool. There is a rule here that diapered children are not allowed in the pool, and we obey. IF her Dad and I want to go, we take her in the stroller, park it under the shade, and lock the wheels. We give her something to be entertained. But, she clearly wants to come in the pool, and cries. We have had a lot of support from the other families here that have said we should just put her in a swim diaper. After all, there are a lot of other pool rules that are being ignored by everyone. For example, anyone with long hair is supposed to wear a bathing cap. All of the girls and women with long hair are ignoring that rule. And, of course, regardless of being potty trained, the older kids are still peeing in the pool. I feel that with a swim diaper and some extra protection – rubber pant or something – that poop won’t be escaping. And, it’s not like she’s pooping 24 hours a day. We could time it right so the poop is not a problem anyway.

    For those of you that think babies should be in no public pools at all, please check out this website that is encouraging little ones to be swimming very young:

    And, the perspective on a forum where the comments are in favor.

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