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  • What’s the best wool for baby clothes?

    April 20, 2023 8 min read

    What’s the best wool for baby clothes?

    Snuggles, warmth and affection. They’re three things your baby needs as they begin to explore the world earthside — an exciting time of discovery, growth, learning and love.

    And as they slowly soak up their new surroundings, wool is a wonderful way to keep them cosy. With unique properties that balance warmth, comfort and protection, wool is the perfect companion for gentle skin.

    When looking at the best wool for baby clothes, we recommend 100% GOTS certified organic merino wool or a delicate blend of GOTS organic merino wool and silk blend fibres.

    Organic merino wool is different from traditional wool in a lot of ways — it’s superfine, natural, warm, non-toxic, free from dyes and sourced from ethically raised merino sheep (which have a reputation for producing the softest wool there is). More than that, the usual benefits of wool — like hypoallergenic, breathable, self-cleaning and temperature regulating — are supercharged when you choose organic merino wool or a wool and silk blend.

     

    Why organic merino wool is so great for babies

    There are so many reasons to love organic merino wool for babies — it’s soft, gentle and oh so cosy.

    A newborn baby needs to get used to living in a much cooler and drier environment than they are used to in the womb. Dressing them in a natural fibre like wool that has similar properties to human skin, helping support your baby’s warmth and wellbeing. 

    Not only that, a newborn hasn’t developed the ability temperature regulate, so their basic temperature can drop easily (by feeling your baby’s hands and toes you can get an immediate sense of their core temperature). Keeping them warm is vital to the development of their organs and such an important part of loving care. It’s why we love wool after experiencing first-hand the nurturing support it provides newborns and peace of mind to new parents. 

    Because of wool’s incredible properties, your baby’s core temperature will remain stable and in balance (wool will be warm or cool depending on the body’s needs). Since a newborn’s skin is only about one fifth as thick as adult skin, it’s much more sensitive to irritants, like dyes and chemical finishes. Choosing organic GOTS certified wool fibres means the clothing is free from pesticides and synthetic finishes. 

    Benefits of Wool for Babies by Woollykins

    Interested in diving deeper? Grab a cuppa and snuggle up, here are 9 reasons why we think organic merino is the best wool for baby clothes…  

    1. It’s natural 

    In a baby’s first few months of life, their skin is more sensitive, thin and fragile. By choosing GOTS certified merino wool, you and your little one can sleep easy knowing it’s free from irritants like dyes and chemicals.

    Another wonderful thing about choosing organic wool is you can be sure it’s free from Superwashing — a chemical process that removes tiny scales from the wool fibre to prevent it from felting or shrinking. Over 70% of wool on the market today is Superwashed. The downside of Superwashing is the environmental impact (like chemicals and waste). It also reduces the amazing benefits of merino wool, like the ability to absorb and release moisture and odours and it makes it no longer chemical free.

    Undyed and chemical-free wool will create a haven for soft skin.

    1. It’s warm and cosy

    Your baby will spend a lot of time snuggling in your arms — a place where they feel nurtured and supported. And perhaps organic wool is the next best thing to your cuddles.

    Warm and cosy clothing is important for your newborn, as at this age they haven’t yet learnt to regulate their temperature. The exciting news? Wool fibre has a similar structure to our skin, which is why it’s often referred to as our “second skin”.

    The natural crimp of the wool “traps” plenty of air pockets, creating an air layer that balances the temperature of the skin and outside environment. This is the perfect insulation, working to keep your little one warm and cosy in the winter months and cool and breezy when in the warmer months.  

    1. It’s hypoallergenic

    Despite some common beliefs, GOTS certified organic merino wool is hypoallergenic. The perfect companion for sensitive skin.

    For starters, merino sheep are selectively bred to produce superfine fibres, which reduces the “scratchy” and irritating feeling on skin (a reputation wool has earnt due to the fact there are multiple breeds of sheep that produce varying degrees of softness – they all have different benefits and uses but for babies, you can’t go past merino wool).

    It’s naturally resistant to bacteria, mould, and mildew — which are all common triggers for allergies. Not only that, wool fibres are naturally breathable, temperature regulating and neutralise sweat from the body, all of which can help prevent the build-up of bacteria and allergens like dust mites.

    A study by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute found that when children who experience eczema switched to superfine organic merino wool after wearing cotton, their eczema decreased in severity.[4] On the flip side, swapping from organic merino wool to cotton saw their eczema worsen. 

    1. It absorbs moisture

    Wool absorbs moisture from the surrounding environment (up to 35% of its weight!) without feeling wet. So even in damp conditions, your little one will stay warm and dry.

    Wool also absorbs sweat and skin secretions and little nappy leaks! Plus, when sweat comes into contact with organic wool, an acidic environment develops which prevents the growth of bacteria and fungi. This leaves your little one feeling dry and fresh, without encouraging bacteria growth (which makes it the perfect fibre for nappy covers as well as baby clothes).

    1. It’s self-cleaning

    Wonderful news for mamas and dadas, woollen baby clothes don’t need to be washed as much thanks to their self-cleaning nature. Organic wool has a protective outer layer that prevents dirt, odour and other particles from penetrating into the fibres. This environment discourages bacteria growth and allows dirt and dust to literally fall away.

    While wool fibres don’t need to be washed as much as other fibres, when washing day does roll around, we recommend a calm and gentle hand wash.

    1. It’s temperature regulating

    A common myth is that wool is only for winter. Truth is, wool can regulate a baby’s temperature no matter the season.

    The natural crimp and small fibres of merino wool “trap” air pockets and balance the temperature between a baby’s skin and the outside environment. This has a delightful cooling effect in summer and warming effect in winter. Plus, because wool is incredibly absorbent it’ll capture your little one’s moisture to keep them cool for longer.

    1. It’s durable

    Merino wool is wonderfully durable thanks to its fine, elastic and moisture-wicking fibres.

    Because merino wool fibres are finer than traditional wool fibres, it makes them stronger and less prone to breakage. Merino wool also has a natural elasticity, so it can stretch and move without reducing the integrity of the fibre. Finally, the moisture-wicking nature prevents the growth of mould and mildew (which only weakens fabric over time). 

    1. It’s non-toxic

    Merino wool is naturally wonderful, so there’s no need to use chemicals and toxins to process the fibres (although, for various reasons many companies still do, but that’s another story for another day).

    By choosing GOTS certified organic wool, you can feel confident baby’s clothing is free from chemical treatments, pesticides or synthetic finishes that could irritate their skin. Just pure, natural goodness.

    1. It’s environmentally kind 

    A big difference between GOTS certified organic wool and conventionally farmed wool is the impact on the environment. When we talk about organic wool, it starts with the grazing process — the sheep are reared on organic pastures free from pesticides and herbicides. This is in contrast to conventional wool, where they often graze from fertilised pastures and bathe in pesticide tubs to prevent parasites and pests (a process known as dipping).

    Not only that, organically farmed sheep contribute to regenerative agriculture — a system of farming principles that focuses on the rehabilitation of land and helps the soil capture and store carbon and water. Conventional wool often doesn’t allow time for the land to recover from grazing.

    After the farming of sheep, a lot of conventional wool on the market undergoes Superwashing, a chemical process that makes the wool machine washable and less prone to felting or shrinking in the machine. But the downside of Superwashing is the chemicals and waste that are poured into the environment as a result. With GOTS certified organic merino, Superwashing is forbidden, so you can feel confident you’re purchasing a product from ethically raised sheep on green pastures.

     

    Why an organic merino wool and silk blend is also great for babies 

    As you can see, there are so many reasons to choose 100% organic merino wool for your little one (it’s impressive enough on its own!) But when combined with soft, luxurious silk, the fabrics work in harmony to create something truly magic… Insulating, delicate and breathable clothing for baby.

    An organic wool-silk blend has similar benefits to 100% organic merino wool — plus more. Together they’re moisture-wicking, hypoallergenic, thermoregulating, self-cleaning, warm and cosy. More than that, the addition of silk gives the fabric a soft, smooth and subtle sheen, allowing the fabric to beautifully drape. 

    We love a ratio of 70% organic merino wool to 30% organic silk. Perfect.

     Benefits of wool and silk for babies by Woollykins

     

    Woollykins suppliers predominantly source their wool from Argentina

     And we get asked “why?” a lot. GOTS certification of Australian wool is less common and the supply just isn’t there. One of the reasons is many Australian sheep are subject to a painful procedure called mulesing. It involves puncturing the sheep’s skin to protect them from a fly infestation we have over here (a fly introduced from South Africa at the beginning of the 20th century). 

    Thankfully, in Argentina this fly doesn’t exist, allowing the sheep to live a happy life on green pastures, free from mulesing and pesticides. An ideal solution if you value ethically sourced clothing for your baby.

     Organic wool from Patagonia

    How to wash baby wool clothes

    Organic merino wool and wool-silk blends are incredibly gentle for your baby. But that means you have to be gentle on them, too.

    When wool fabric is natural, undyed and organic, it requires a calm and gentle handwash.

    We recommend Sonnett Biodynamic Wool & Silk Sensitive Wash. Use our traditional wool stain removers for any persistent stains. Dry naturally. Learn more about how to wash your Woollykins.

     

    Discover our favourite wool for babies

    It’s difficult to choose our favourite wool clothes for babies because quite frankly, we love them all. Nevertheless, we’ve highlighted some delightful blends we’ve loved so dearly for our own babies, so you can nurture baby from head to toe.

    organic merino wool silk baby bodysuit by Engel Natur Germany

    This delicately smooth blend is made from 70% organic wool and mulberry silk (GOTS certified). A staple in your little one’s closet. Exceptionally easy to dress for your first baby. 

    Wool Silk baby pants

    With a lovely wide waistband, these baby pants keep tummies warm and sooth colicky and windy bellies. They’re deliciously warm, smooth and soft. Made from 70% organic wool and mulberry silk (GOTS certified). 

    organic wool knitted baby dungarees

    It’s little wonder why our knitted dungarees are one of our best-sellers. They’re timeless, practical and oh so precious. Made from 100% organic merino wool (GOTS certified).

    Wool Nappy Pants by Disana from Woollykins Australia

    The natural qualities of 100% organic merino wool keeps baby’s bum aired, dry and non-sweaty. The fact they look adorable is a bonus. 

    organic wool baby blanket by Disana

    Wrap baby up like a burrito in this cuddly, warm blanket made from 100% organic merino wool. It’ll remind you of the timeless knitted blankets your Grandma used to make.

    organic wool silk baby bonnet by Engel from Woollykins Australia

    Babies lose a lot of heat from their head, particularly when they’re a newborn. A baby bonnet helps keep their temperature stable and helps them feel wonderfully cosy.

     

    Resources: 

    1. Su JC, Dailey R, Zallmann M, Leins E, Taresch L, Donath S, Heah SS, Lowe AJ. Determining Effects of Superfine Sheep wool in INfantile Eczema (DESSINE): a randomized paediatric crossover study. Br J Dermatol. 2017 Jul;177(1):125-133. doi: 10.1111/bjd.15376. Epub 2017 Jun 12. PMID: 28182252.
    1. Zallmann M, Smith PK, Tang MLK, Spelman LJ, Cahill JL, Wortmann G, Katelaris CH, Allen KJ, Su JC. Debunking the Myth of Wool Allergy: Reviewing the Evidence for Immune and Non-immune Cutaneous Reactions. Acta Derm Venereol. 2017 Aug 31;97(8):906-915. doi: 10.2340/00015555-2655. PMID: 28350041. 
    1. https://www.wool.com/marketing/consumer-marketing/wool-is-good-for-the-skin/ 
    1. https://www.mcri.edu.au/news-stories/super-fine-merino-wool-good-kids-eczema

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