Potty training: How to avoid your child from pooping in the pool!

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Avoid 'pooping accidents' in the pool with these tips that should be in your 'bag of tricks' when potty training your child.

Have you seen the movie 'Grownups'? It’s a great family movie about a group of guys who were friends in high school who come back together (along with their families) for the memorial service of their beloved coach.

In one particular scene, Kevin James pees in the pool, mortifying his tween-age daughter when the water turns blue because of what he did.

Can you relate?

While it's unlikely that your husband has ever turned pool water blue from peeing in it, as a mum you've probably had your fair share of embarrassing experiences — one of which could be having your little one poo in a swimming pool! Disgusting, right? Mortifying, definitely!

On poo in the pool: The importance of potty training and other matters

Why do little ones (let’s hope they’re still little) do that? Why do they poo (and maybe sometimes even pee) in the pool? There could be many reasons actually, a few of which are laid out below:

  • They are babies who have not 'graduated' from the 'school' of potty training.
  • They are toddlers or preschoolers who have finished potty training BUT are distracted and end up 'forgetting' that they need to go... until it's too late!
  • If the pool water is warm, sometimes the temperature of the water combined with the movements involved when swimming or moving around in the water causes the bowel muscles to relax — thus resulting in an embarrassing accident.

What can mums do to prevent this from happening?

Even if poo-in-the-pool incidents have never happened to you and your child, it's always best to be cautious, so as to prevent such things from taking place. So what's a mum to do then?

Well, first of all always put your baby or toddler in a swim diaper, NOT a regular disposable or cloth diaper, but a SWIM diaper, which is especially made to take on more water without exploding. You should do this especially if you're still potty training your child.

As for preschoolers and early elementary age children, swim diapers should be an option especially if there are recurring instances of ‘pool poo-ing.’

Another option worth taking is to not allow your child into the pool until they have at least peed. Sometimes the relaxation of muscles that causes them to pee will initiate their need to 'do more.'

You should also answer these questions BEFORE you take your little one to the pool:

  • How 'regular' is your child's bowel movements (BM)? Try to see if there is a 'pattern' every day and schedule your swim time around them.
  • Does your child know how to tell you when she needs to poo? This can and should be part of your potty training sessions.

When you're already at the pool, take your children out of the water every 20-30 minutes for a bathroom break. Older kids will not be overly thrilled with this idea, but that can work in your favour — they may actually try to go (and succeed) so they won’t have to get out of the pool again.

What to do when your child has an 'accident'

What if you took the necessary precautions but the deed was still done? What do you do now?

Well, that depends on where you are.

If you are in a private pool such as one at a friend’s house, your house or a hotel/motel/resort, inform the lifeguard or the other swimmers that there has been an ‘accident’ in the pool. Everyone will need to be asked to get out of the pool so the poo can be removed and the pool can be sanitized with high doses of chlorine or other pool chemicals that will sanitise the water and kill any and all bacteria.

Having said that, it is important to note that children should be taken out of the pool immediately, as any water ingested is likely contaminated with bacteria that can be life-threatening.

Of course, when accidents like these happen, there's no point in getting angry or annoyed with your child. Infants and young toddlers will not understand the significance of what is going on or what they have done — it’s just part of being a baby.

As for children who are old enough to undergo potty training, parents should speak to them in a kind but firm manner, letting them know that doing what should be done in the bathroom in a pool is inappropriate and unacceptable.

Last but not least, it goes without saying that you should also apologise to the ‘offended’ parties i.e. the pool owners. A written note of apology is never out of order. It will definitely be much appreciated and go far in smoothing over what might have been a touchy situation.

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Written by

Darla Noble