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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  • Yesway

    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. 

  • Lawoman51

    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

  • Fabian

    I dont feel that is right because half of question can be fought by two different partiesi can understand the little kids that are not potty trained should not be let in any pools but try to get a opinion from someone that has to wear diapers like me I have a disability that ive had since I was born and sometimes I get in the pool and since I could never really be potty trained ive would usually go in my diaper but not in the pool but people dont look at people like me sometimes which is what they call incontinent which I dont think I am im a strong person and have been through alot

  • j

    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?

  • Jackie

    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.

  • Cera Baril

    This is just part of the ongoing change that is taking place when it comes to civility, manners and thoughtful behavior. Mothers who think that they have the right to do what ever they wish regardless of how it may hurt others are sick people. They grew up believing that there are NO good rules except for what they decide is good for them. This is why the world is changing into a crude and thoughtless place where evil is allowed to persist without good people doing anything. When a good person speaks up against evil, they are called racist and worse.
    Children who are still crapping and pissing in their pants have NO RIGHT to filthy the water that everyone is sharing. I know that there are grown ups who will piss in the pool or not shower the feces off their asses before getting in the pool, but an infant is guaranteed to add unwanted bacteria into the water which can cause problems for everyone else. The mothers who defend their children’s rights to do whatever they want are dirtbags that had no right to be mothers in the first place. They are the low life scumbags of society and ruin what is good for everyone.
    They are just selfish, pigs and cows.

  • Cera Baril

    Bottom line is this. When you live in society, infants and diaper wearing kids automatically are bringing their filth/bacteria into the pool. It’s no business of yours if the chlorine kills most of these germs. The problem here is that you are a selfish, self centered scumbag who has no regard for others except your own kids who will grow up as entitlement seekers like you.

  • Cera Baril

    What is for sure is this. Any parent who chooses to ignore the common sense of not allowing a diapered infant into a public pool is just a selfish, thoughtless, “my shit don’t stink” entitlement seeking, rude, piece of turd and is training her children to be the same. You did NOT see this kind of thoughtless, rude behavior in the 1930’s through early 1960’s. It all started to change with the civil rights and women’s rights revolution. Divorce which were unheard of have become rampant. Single mothers which were unheard of is now the norm and in fact, instigated by government hand outs for single moms. What use to be up is now down and the dumbing down of America is led by the communist inspired left who want to make problems, so they can make everyone dependent upon them to “fix the problems”.
    This is the plan and will filter down into every aspect of our lives.
    Imagine this. Now the women’s professional basketball league is saying that they need to have more homosexuals and transgender people as fans. I thought Heather Has Two Mommies was bad, but it’s just beginning.
    The USA is slipping and sliding down into third worldism. Wake UP!!!!

  • Cera Baril

    Iceland is a third world country and lives with standards that civilized folks won’t adopt. A crap in the pool automatically means the entire pool has to be decontaminated and closed down. I guess you cannot understand this simplicity.

  • Cera Baril

    You and your children are dirty minded entitlement seeking losers. It is YOU who is the hater and YOU who refuses to live by the etiquette that a decent society wishes to set up to protect the majority. It is your selfish, thoughtless ranting of calling people who wish to swim in a shitless pool baby haters that is IGNORANT. I am POSITIVE that your parents were ignorant, that they taught you to be ignorant and you are surely passing these selfish, self centered traits onto your progeny. I am certain that your kids asses are dirty because I don’t trust a word you utter.

  • Cera Baril

    correctomundo

  • Cera Baril

    You are correct in your assessment, but remember that people like Kevin are sick minded, self absorbed dick heads who think their children’s shit don’t stink. Kevin probably wears diapers.

  • Cera Baril

    Kevin and his children should be banned from movie theaters too. If you understand his personality, he it the type who will talk no stop while a movie is in progress and believe that it is his right to do so. You cannot win an argument with this kind of personality.

  • Cera Baril

    Kids? Quite condescending of you.
    This is a non- issue.
    Shit diapered children should NOT be allowed to infect a public pool.
    People who disagree with that position are just WRONG.
    There are some things that have definitive right and wrongness.
    Driving while intoxicated is wrong.
    Going through a red light or stop sign without stopping is wrong.
    Stealing is wrong. Throwing garbage on the street is wrong.
    Allowing shit assed infants into a public pool is wrong.
    Same applies for 80 year olds with diapers.

    I don’t like your tone and try to be a little more thoughtful when reprimanding your “flock”.

  • Amanda

    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:
    http://www.ymcaboston.org/swim-sports-play/swim-classes/parent-child-classes

    And, the perspective on a forum where the comments are in favor.
    http://community.babycenter.com/post/a42262429/swim_diapers_not_allowed_in_pool_vent

  • 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.