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My kids love going to the pool, but it used to fill me with anxiety. I would worry about the chlorine in the water, the PVC in the pool toys and the chemicals in the sunscreen. Fortunately, companies are making a lot of progress when it comes to offering safe alternatives to toxic pool gear. And I am discovering my own cheap and easy DIY alternatives to things like pool toys. If you want to be stress-free at the pool, read on!
1. Reusable Swim Diapers
A cloth swim diaper is a must-have for moms who want to be eco-friendly and save money. I personally prefer the ones that have Velcro or buttons versus the pull-up kind for easy diaper changes. I bring along an extra one to the pool in case the first gets dirty. And I do keep a couple of disposable swim diapers in my pool bag for emergencies but I have yet to use one. I own the following swim diapers and love them:
2. Eco-Friendly Bathing Suits
I am one of those moms that dresses her kids in long-sleeve rash guards. My kids don’t mind and I feel better knowing they are more protected from the sun. Of course, I look for swimsuits that have high sun protection ratings. Unfortunately, most swimsuits are made out of materials such as nylon and polyester, which aren’t the safest materials or the most eco-friendly. Although some companies make adult swimsuits out of materials such as organic cotton or bamboo, I have yet to find any for kids (please comment below if you know of any!). The closest thing I have found is a rash guard from City Threads. They claim to make their rash guards with safe dyes and no harsh chemicals.
3. Choose a Safe Place to Swim
Typical swimming pools use chemicals such as chlorine and bromine that can cause skin irritations and other complications. My kids’ favorite place to swim is at one of our local lakes, where we don’t have to worry about pool chemicals. When we do feel like going to the pool, we choose a YMCA pool that uses a salt water system. There is also a private swim club in our area that uses a spring-fed pool!
4. Non-Toxic Sunscreen
Choosing a safe sunscreen has become super easy thanks to EWG’s Safe Sunscreen Guide. They rate sunscreens from 0 to 10 based on the safety of the ingredients as well as the degree of UV protection. There are now a bunch of sunscreens for kids that have earned a “1” from EWG. The sunscreens I have in my pool bag are:
5. Organic Cotton Beach Towel
You can’t forget a towel when you head to the pool (of course, I seem to manage that half the time). Choose eco-friendly, safe materials to wrap around your little one. Organic cotton or bamboo are best if you can afford it, but plain old cotton will do if you can’t. Or pick up a towel from a consignment shop. Here are a couple of suggestions:
6. Pool Toys
The toys that I prefer to bring to the pool and the beach are ones that I don’t care if I lose, which happens almost every time we go to the pool. I bring those plastic scoopers from laundry detergent for digging in sand or for scooping water. I take large vinegar bottles, cut the tops off (leaving the handles) and use them as large scoopers or for collecting treasures. Plastic dish soap bottles become great water guns. This is what I have been using for years now and the kids almost never ask for anything else.
If you do want to buy dedicated pool toys, choose those made from recycled or biodegradable plastic. And don’t forget to put your name on them, especially if you just spent a lot of money! These labels from MightyNest are waterproof, BPA-free and PVC-free.
7. Non-Toxic Pool Floats
Most pool floats and safety gear are made out of PVC, which I do not want on my kids. For the most part, I just avoid the floats and vests but I do like to have something for those times when I don’t feel like carrying around a toddler. Fortunately, there is a product that seems to be free of most harmful chemicals. Schlori Swim Cushions are actually made out of 100% cotton! I have not tried them yet but they are on my wish list.