Why Do Children Poo in the Pool?

Why Do Children Poo in the Pool?

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Taking your children to the pool can be the highlight of their week and yours, but it can also go south in an instant. 

So whether you’re taking your baby or toddler to the pool for the first time or had one of these accidents already, you’ve come to the right place!

So why do children poo in the pool? What can we do as parents to control this? And what does this mean for the pool visitors and leisure centre? 

Read on to find out the answer to these questions and more.

Why Do Children Poo in the Pool?


There are lots of things that can contribute to the likelihood of your child soiling themselves in a pool.

While these are the most common reasons, only you as a parent will be able to figure out if they apply to your child or if it’s something else entirely.

1. They’re Too Young

If your child can’t hold their poo on dry land, there’s no reason why they would be able to in the water. Children that still need diapers daily are even more likely to soil themselves in the pool. They will need a swim nappy, even if they’re older.

2. Their Potty-Training Is Not There Yet

Even if your child has finally gotten to the point where they know how and when to use the bathroom, this doesn’t mean that they can do this in the pool.

There are lots of reasons why children may miss nature’s call during pool time, especially if they’re only newly potty-trained. Here are just a few examples:

  • The physical sensation of swimming may be too distracting for them to notice that it’s time to go. Swimming is fun, especially with floats, so they may leave it too late.
  • The warm water and movement make it harder than usual to hold their poo. Cold pools are better.
  • They may feel unwilling to go out just for potty time.
  • They may feel uncomfortable with the idea of using a public bathroom.
  • They may find it harder to let you know they need the bathroom than in usual circumstances.

3. They’re in the Pool During Poo Time

A lot of children have regular bowel movements and poo around the same time every day. If pool time coincides with poo time, they’re a lot more likely to have an accident in the water.

For the reasons mentioned above, “holding it” in the water is harder than normal, so even potty-trained children may have an accident.

4. They’ve Held It for Too Long

Whether they’re infants, toddlers, or older, if they remain in the water for too long without a bathroom break, there’s bound to be an accident.

Remember that even if they pooped a couple of hours before they go to the pool, the water and physical activity stimulate bowel movement. This means that they’ll likely need to go poo much quicker than their normal routine.

5. They Don’t Fully Grasp That It’s a Problem

If you’ve already had multiple accidents despite all your attempts to stop this, your child may have made a habit out of it. They may do it out of habit or because it’s fun for them.

Do Babies Poop in the Pool?

Yes, babies poop in the pool rather frequently. They’re more likely to poo in the water, especially if it’s warm. Warm water gives a relaxing sensation to babies, causing them to poop or pee. This is why babies often pee when you’re bathing them.

On top of that, the support of the water makes their leg movement easier, which in turn relaxes their muscles overall.

How to Prevent Pool Pooping

There are three main ways you can manage a pool-pooping issue with your child. The best course of action is to use all three to eliminate the issue.

1. Swim Diapers

First and foremost, plan for the worst. If you’re here, it means you’re at least unsure if your child can hold their poo in the pool. This means that you must use a swim diaper whenever you take them to the pool.

Keep in mind that swimming diapers don’t do much against diarrhea, which is the most dangerous thing about pooing-in-the-pool accidents. If your child has diarrhea, do not let them into the water.

2. Potty Breaks

Strategically plan potty breaks around pool time. Here are some suggestions:

  • Initiate getting ready for the pool straight after they’ve gone potty.
  • Take a potty break around the time of day they usually poop.
  • Consider staying out of the water for a little while or disguising it as a snack break to move past how focused they are on being in the pool.

3. Talking About It

Naturally, this works with toddlers, but feel free to do it with children of all ages till they get it. 

Make a deal with them that you’ll be taking frequent potty breaks until they actually poo. Make a habit out of it and encourage them when they’re being receptive.

Most importantly, remember not to get frustrated with them if they refuse but do it anyway so they’d understand that no fits will keep them in the pool, only a potty break.

Will Poo in the Pool Make People Sick?

Yes, bacteria in the poo can make people of all ages sick. So much so that it has a name! 

Recreational water illness (RWI) is an umbrella term that includes all illnesses people can contract by coming in contact with contaminated water.

The most common health issue is diarrhea, but other things such as eye irritation and stomach ache among many others can happen.

What Should I Do If My Child Has Pooped in the Pool?

Immediately take your child out of the water and alert the person responsible for pool upkeep. Alerting them quickly can save other swimmers from getting sick.

What Do Leisure Centres Do If a Child Has Pooped in the Pool?

Most often, leisure centres have to close the pool for a minimum of a few hours and up to two days to properly sanitise the pool again. This depends on the size of the pool and, well, the consistency of the accident.

During this time, they’ll take out any poop they find, elevate chlorine levels and the temperature of the water and keep it that way for a couple of hours. If the child that soiled themselves has diarrhea, however, they need to close the pool for upwards of 14 hours.

My Child Poops in the Pool But I Want Them to Swim – Should I Stop?

Don’t let an accident or two discourage you; your child is bound to grow out of it sooner rather than later.

If you go through the steps needed to manage this, talk to them, and encourage them to hold it like “big people”, it’s possible for this problem to be solved within just a few visits to the pool.


There are lots of reasons why children poop in the pool, but there are also lots of different things you can do to address these reasons.

It’s important to prevent this and quickly contain the situation if it happens because fecal matter in a pool can cause people to get sick with RWIs. Swimming is a fantastic recreational activity which is sadly not given enough attention and could be a lifesaver so it’s not to be missed!