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Swimming and Potty Training

This is one of those parenting questions that many of us are afraid to ask. On the one hand, you have your toddler mastering the potty-training milestone with inevitable accidents along the way. On the other hand, you have the open swimming pool where the idea of them having an accident is likely to set progress way back in both the swimming and toileting milestones as well as trigger some very red faces from mum and dad.

Back to the Nappies

But the good news is that you don’t need to wait until your child is fully toilet trained to take them swimming. With more than 700 fatalities due to drowning in the UK and Ireland every year, this is not a milestone that you can afford to put off – and the sooner your toddler learns to swim, the easier and more natural it will be.

The bad news is that you may need to put your toddler back in a nappy when you take them to the pool. A swim nappy can feel disheartening after you’ve worked so hard to get your toddler into big boy/girl pants. But having an accident in the pool is far, far worse and will likely have a much more detrimental effect on your toddler’s progress than wearing a nappy ever will.

Choosing the Right Swimwear

There are some great designs that look more like little shorts with patterns, so it’s well worth shopping around to find something that your toddler will feel comfortable in and be entertained by the design. The less it looks like a nappy, the less risk there is of your toddler having a meltdown and refusing to wear it. We also advise referring to the swim nappy as “swim pants” or similar when speaking to your toddler. Avoiding the word ‘nappy’ is a bonus plus you’re showing them that they are just like mum and dad to encourage their confidence, independence and willingness to wear them.

Some swimming pools may require all children up to the age of three to wear a nappy, but we would advise to keep the swim nappy on for a few months after they are fully trained just to complement their progress and keep things ticking over well. Above all, you will feel reassured - your toddler will pick up on this mood and relax too which will enhance progress across all areas of learning and development, increase positive associations with swimming and minimise the risk of accidents.

Going through Changes

It might come as a surprise to hear that many accidents happen during the transitional stages when going swimming. Whether it’s getting changed to go into the pool or (more commonly) from getting changed out of their wet clothes, showered and back into something warm and dry, this is peak risk time for accidents.

The feeling of getting out of their wet clothes is a sure-fire trigger so we suggest distracting your toddler by bringing one of their favourite toys – don’t forget to choose something waterproof. You can also engage older siblings to speed up the process while we also recommend bringing your toddler’s favourite snack – post-swimming is a time when little ones often feel extra hungry.


The Family Seat is built with an ergonomic, solid construction resulting in a strong, stable seat to give your child confidence during the potty-training process. For advice on any aspect of potty training and for any help purchasing a Family Seat, email our team at

Family Seat supports the children’s communication charity I CAN, who are experts in helping children to develop the language, speech and communication skills that they need to thrive in our 21st-century world.  We donate 50p to I CAN on each and every seat purchased through the official Family Seat website.



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