Should kids in diapers be allowed in the pool?

And now, as they say, for something completely different. Since we’ve been talking about travel and manners recently, 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 on the other.

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.

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.

If you want to see a lively debate on this issue, check out the recent discussion on the USA Today cruise blog.

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.

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.

I ran a quick survey early this morning. Here are the responses.

(Photo: Cafe Mama/Flickr Creative Commons)

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at . Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • Daisiemae

    Wow! Whatever happened to no foul language, no racist slurs (or in this case anti-gay slurs), and no personal attacks?

    Oh, I get it. It’s all right when it’s the moderator doing it…but anybody else doing it gets their comment deleted. Or anybody disagreeing with the moderator.

    I see nothing has changed here at Elliott. The double standards and abuse by the moderators continues apace.

    I’m laughing myself silly at the hypocrisy.

    Wonder how long it will take for the moderators to delete this comment?

  • Daisiemae

    Now, now…no personal attacks.

  • Daisiemae

    My, my! Such foul language coming from a moderator. I’m shocked.

  • Daisiemae

    Wow, Chris! Your moderator really put you in your place, didn’t she? She doesn’t like your condescending tone when you reprimand her foul tone.

  • Daisiemae

    Where are the personal attack police now?

  • Daisiemae

    Watch out, John. She’ll eviscerate you. The personal attack police have gone on holiday.

  • Daisiemae

    That is some mouth you’ve got there, Cera. I guess Chris has decided to throw all his previous rules out the window. Choosing you as a moderator is an interesting choice.

    I wonder if Chris got more than he bargained for. Past moderators were rude and arrogant, but none of them hurled the kind of foul language you’re using.