The poop on potty training and pool time

The poop on potty training and pool time

When the Poop hits the pool – swimming with a potty training toddler

We are dedicated to our twins learning to swim and are spending as much time in our pool as possible this summer. The inevitable fallout of this is pool pooping. No one wants to talk about this because the idea of swimming in a soup of toddler poo is horrifying. Aside from making sure the pool you are in uses proper chlorination, there are a number of factors to consider when taking your pre-potty trained kid into the water. With Toddler Twins, in the midst of toilet training, I feel like a bit of an expert at this point.

Just so we are super clear: DO NOT TAKE YOUR KID IN THE POOL if they have had diarrhea or vomiting in the last 24-48 hours. Just Don’t. Report any escaped solids (poo) or liquid (diarrhea) immediately to pool staff. Safety is more important than your embarrassment.

Boy in Nasa rash guard at the pool
Potty training toddlers are also the prime age for playing in the pool during a hot summer.

Swim Diapers

Your child should wear a swim diaper combination until they are fully potty trained for at least six months (cause accidents happen). We pair the washable swim diaper with a lined bathing suit bottom. Believe me, that swim suit netting is good for something.¬†Swim diapers aren’t really diapers – they are barrier and containment systems. And temporary ones at that (CDC references). Regular diapers should not be used – they suck up all the water and create a saggy weight that won’t hold anything inside. We don’t use disposable ones because we are in the pool every day (sometimes more than once) and they get expensive.

swim wear for potty training toddlers
The washable wet bag, extra swim diaper, and wipes go along with two full sets of change of swim gear in our emergency pool pooping kit.

We like Wegreeco Reusable Swim Diaper because they are adjustable, size well, and are the right price. Make sure to look at the weight limits and sizing. Diapers should be snug around the legs and waist. Some people complain about cloth swim diapers being too pink. “I can’t possible use them with my son. Heaven forfend.” But poop doesn’t have gender, and my hand-me-down pink mermaid diapers work just as well as the ones with primary colors.

Boy in trunks and diaper
SWIM DIAPERS, amiright? Just kidding, this is actually a disposable diaper OVER his swim diaper and trunks for a swim test during lessons last winter. Regular diapers can hold approximately one million gallons of water but do a terrible job of holding in poop.

Poop Kit

box with pool poop supplies
We use this Suncast Deck Box to keep all our pool poop supplies in one place by the pool.

We keep our tiny potty poolside for easy access at our own pool. And a box of essential items, aka the poop kit. Poop Kit Contents:

Gear to put in a poop kit by the pool

Part of the poolside poop kit. Note the white poop-only towel.

Dos and Don’ts

Do Not diaper before you hit the pool. Swim diapers are NOT meant to hold in urine, only solids. You are warned. They will leak. You will get peed on.

Do Double Diaper. We use a combination of cloth reusable swim diapers and snug swimsuit bottom. [Make sure to know the policy at your pool. Some places want you to use a disposable swim diaper covered with a cloth swim diaper or rubber pants.] Suits need to be SNUG around the waist and legs.

Do insist on regular potty trips during any swimming excursion. Being in the water seems to cause temporary amnesia and intense allergic reactions to getting out of the pool in children. When possible be as close to a potty as possible – we literally set one up pool side. This is mostly optimism on my part.

Do check your little swimmer’s diaper regularly. The research indicates that fecal particles are only contained for a matter of minutes. Swimming toddlers are consummate liars. You need to actually check, at a minimum, every 20 min, according to the CDC.

Don’t ignore potty dances. Don’t think to yourself, “Oh, I can wait another minute.” You can’t and they won’t. No one likes to interrupt the fun for a trip to the potty; that’s part of the reason we keep ours close by the pool side.

Pool potty
This BABYBJORN Smart Potty is perfect for right by the pool, it’s small, easy to clean up, and way faster than trying to wrestle a sopping wet poopy toddler into the bathroom.

Do time your swim according to likely pooping. Pay attention to their normal pooping schedule. You are safer if you swim after a bowel movement has already occurred (but even then, you aren’t in the clear. Trust me.).

The bottom line is that prevention is EVERYTHING. You are better off preventing the pool poop.

When poop happens

So when your sweet little swimmer hops out of the pool to jump in your arms and you catch the whiff of elephant house, it’s too late. Hopefully, your double diapering has contained all of the fallout. But I’ve learned a few things that help make this regrettable moment less repugnant.

First and most importantly

If ANY solids or liquids have escaped you must notify staff at a public pool. I know this is a major bummer. But it’s also a major health risk. Hopefully your double diapering and constant vigilance will catch any poop before it escapes.

Leave the pool area to deal with the poop soup. Wrap the pooper up like a burrito in a designated Poop Towel and get to a clean up area asap. Use a towel so you don’t contaminate yourself when moving your little one. We use a white towel so it can be easily bleached.

In a public pool, go to the bathroom where hot water and soap are available for cleaning the offender up, and for thorough hand-washing afterwards. We go to the laundry room sink.

Giant laundry sink
Our giant laundry room sink is the perfect place to wash up a soiled toddler. Nothing but real life happens here.

Plan ahead before you unwrap anything

A simple turd that you caught immediately can be easily transferred into a toilet. If things went unnoticed longer than a few minutes you may want to use a catch system. After I unwrap, I fold the towel back onto itself to make a place to put the soiled swim wear.

I stand the pooper in a rubbermaid container and unsnap carefully letting the accumulated contents carefully fall into the catch bucket. Not gonna lie, this can be especially awful. If you can SAFELY do so, dump the contents into the toilet (but don’t leave your child unattended).

Soap and Hot water and more soap

Then it’s time for lots of soap and hot water. And a lecture about not pooping in the pool. Then, at our house, the tiny hiney gets to sit by the pool and think about what he did while his brother gets to stay in the pool. Rinse out the swim diaper as much as possible and spray liberally with Nature’s Miracle (I swear by this stuff for stains and smell). Bag the diaper, suit, and towel securely in a washable wet bag or in a plastic bag. Launder at home – hot water and lots of it.

Wash your hands. Scrub them. Then scrub them again. Then I use a disinfectant cleaner on the entire laundry sink and on the catch bucket. Then wash your hands again.

Lastly, use this as an incentive to work on potty training.

I watched my toddler assume a peculiar posture in the pool last week and I asked him what he was doing (I assumed it was a game of some sort). “I’m POOPING in the pool!” he exclaimed. It is entirely possible I muttered a string of obscenities at him while I bundled him up for clean up. So, when my 2.5 year old calls his brother, “You GD A-hole.” At least I know where he learned it.

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