Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Why I love wool for cloth diapering

Welcome to the First Annual Freedom of Cloth Carnival

This post was written for inclusion in the Freedom of Cloth Carnival hosted at Natural Parents Network by Melissa of The New Mommy Files and Shannon of The Artful Mama. This year's carnival will run from Sunday, July 3, through Saturday, July 9. Participants are sharing everything they know and love about cloth diapering, including how cloth has inspired them.

One of my favorite fabrics for cloth diapering? Wool.

Soft fabric for diaper covers, stretchy knits for soakers, fluffy fleece for a mattress cover, and workhorse wool for puddle pads.

Wool has a bit of a reputation for not playing nice, so let me clear up some misconceptions:
  • Myth #1: Wool is itchy.

    This depends entirely on what type of wool. Cloth diapering companies use soft wool (usually merino), and anyone handmaking items will (or should) similarly seek out the comfiest fabrics and yarns. If you haven't petted a soft wool diaper cover yet, give it a go. You'll be pleasantly surprised at how comfy it is. You could use it as a pillowcase.

  • Myth #2: Wool is too hot.

    Wool is an all-season fabric. It is warming in winter but cooling in summer. If your mother dressed you in wool growing up, you probably wore it only in winter, in the form of coats or mittens, but wool is very breathable and won't make you or your baby sweat or trap moisture. I'm not saying you should wear a wool suit in the summer, but your baby's bum won't overheat in a wool cover in August! Our baby wore wool covers all year round, and because of our good experience with wool, we put a wool fleece mattress cover under our sheets — it has protected the mattress from any leaking or sweating, but it's breathable and cooling even in the summer months, unlike sticky plastics. In fact, wool covers can go a long way toward preventing diaper rash due to the breathability and absorbency.

  • Myth #3: Wool breaks people out.

    When people consider themselves allergic to wool, they're usually allergic to chemicals used to extract the lanolin in conventionally manufactured wool. It's best to seek out an organic wool for baby products to prevent this problem. In fact, wool is hypoallergenic. Wool does not contain dust mites so is an excellent choice for bedding. A soft merino wool puddle pad is a wonderful addition to a baby's bed, to prevent leaks onto the sheets. We use a small merino wool blanket as a puddle pad and it nearly always absorbs any leaks before our sheets get wet. For this reason, I recommend a puddle pad and wool mattress cover to anyone doing cosleeping and/or elimination communication.

  • Myth #4: Wool isn't waterproof.

    If you're used to plastic, you might scoff at the idea that a mere fabric could repel moisture. Think again! Wool can absorb up to 30% of its own weight in moisture before it feels wet. And even when it's wet, it retains heat, unlike other materials that turn clammy and make the wearer cold. This is why wool is used so much in winter outerwear, and it means wool covers are ideal for nighttime use, because even a soaking-wet baby will stay toasty all night. Besides absorbing moisture, it also repels it! I know — magic, right? Wool is made up on the microscopic level of tiny overlapping scales, and lanolin is the grease that sheep's skin secretes that acts as a sort of waterproof barrier. That means a wool cover alone over a prefold or fitted diaper is plenty of protection from leaks — no plastic or vinyl needed!

  • Myth #5: Wool is hard to care for.

    While it's true that most wool products can't be tossed in the washer and then dried on high, it's easy to care for wool once you learn a few key steps. (If you've ever accidentally shrunk a wool sweater, you know whereof I speak!) I managed our rotation of wool covers when we didn't have our own washer/dryer, so I know firsthand how simple it is to do. The main thing to keep in mind with wool is to be gentle: tepid temperatures, delicate washing, line drying. There are great tutorials out there to help you with lanolizing (adding back lanolin for extra protection against leaks) and laundering. (And stay tuned for an upcoming giveaway for Eucalan, my wool wash of choice!)

  • Myth #6: Wool is expensive.

    I'll grant you, buying fancy 100% wool covers, soakers, and blankets new can hit you in the pocketbook. That's why I almost always buy used. Wool is a perfectly reusable resource, so why not? I've found covers on eBay and in consignment shops, and wool blankets, sweaters, and jackets (for converting into your own covers, shorties, or longies) can be found at thrift stores or even in your own closet. And if you're handy with the needles, you can knit up a soaker yourself.

Want another random tidbit in wool's favor? It's naturally flame resistant. Wool is a safe fabric to have around young children because it tends to smolder when exposed to flame rather than burn dangerously, even though there are no harsh chemicals added, and it self-extinguishes if the flame is removed. (But you already knew that if you've ever tried to set a sheep on fire.) (Just joking.) (No sheep were harmed in the writing of this blog post.)

So, particularly if you use prefolds or fitteds, add some wool covers and soakers to your stash, and toss a wool puddle pad on your baby's or family bed. Give it a try and see if you and your little one enjoy wool as much as we do!

What's your cloth diapering must-have?

freedom of cloth carnivalVisit Natural Parents Network for the most up-to-date news on the Freedom of Cloth Carnival!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants on the following themes. Articles will go live on the scheduled theme day:

  • Sunday, July 3rd, 2011: Cloth Related Recipes — Writers share their best cloth-related recipes and tutorials.
  • Monday, July 4th, 2011: Choosing Your Cloth Style — Today’s posts discuss parents' individual journeys to finding the cloth diapering "style" that best suits their families.
  • Tuesday, July 5th, 2011: Cloth Diapering Must Haves — Parents talk about the most important items in their diapering “stash” and why they love them.
  • Wednesday, July 6th, 2011: Wordless Wednesday, Inspired by Cloth — We asked parents to share their favorite cloth-related photo with us and turned them into a fluffy Wordless Wednesday photo montage on Natural Parents Network. Link up your own Wordless Wednesday post there!
  • Thursday, July 7th, 2011: Cloth Through the Stages: From Infancy to Potty Independence — Today’s participants explain how cloth diapering has served their families throughout one or more stages of their children’s lives.
  • Friday, July 8th, 2011: Cloth Troubleshooting and Laundry Day — Seasoned cloth diapering parents share their best tips and tricks for handling common cloth problems and tackling the diaper laundry.
  • Saturday, July 9th, 2011: Inspired by Cloth — For today’s theme, we’ve asked writers to explore the ways cloth diapering has inspired them to become "greener" overall.


Laura said...

I did like how absorbent the wool soakers I borrowed from a friend for when Sylvia was super tiny. She doesn't fit them anymore, but I liked how they fit her and how they worked. I didn't know they would be nice in the summer too!

melissa said...

Alright, thanks to you and the ArtfulMama I'm now off to shop for wool! Thanks for the great information, and the adorable pictures of your wooly, handsome boys.

Shannon @ The Artful Mama said...

I think I fall more and more in love with your blog each time I visit! Wool rocks! I never knew that I could get a mattress protector for my bed too - I will definitely have to look for that now.

Inder-ific said...

Yep, I'm a huge fan of wool diaper covers. We use them every night, over two prefolds, and rarely/never have leaks, even though Joe is two years old and a very heavy wetter. He's been wearing the same size Aristocrats covers since he was six months old, so they are a little ratty now, but wow, was that was a good investment!

Rosemary said...

I just recently tested out a wool soaker from a friend and was convinced! I'm in the (intimidating) process of knitting one. So excited to use it! :D

Zoie @ TouchstoneZ said...

I love wool, too. My favorites are the recycled sweater longies and the lightweight snap-side wool covers. Wool is one of the often overlooked eco-friendly options for cloth diapering. I'm glad you gave it a highlight in this post

Kathleen said...

We recently switched from pocket diapers to wool covers, and I LOVE them!

In case any of your readers are interested, I'm giving away a week's worth of fun baby items, including several wool covers. :)


Related Posts with Thumbnails