Baby in sheep's clothing

Baby in sheep's clothing

This post was written in response to questions over at The Mommy Blog and is cross-posted here with permission.

Emily of Mommy Made Green had the following questions to kick off this wool segment: ""The one area of cloth diapering I haven’t tried yet is wool, I would love to learn more about wool. What are your favorite brands? How easy are they to take care of? What do you use to wash them? SO many questions!"

Since wool allowed me to cloth diaper at night, I'm a huge fan of it, and was pleased to be invited to submit this guest post.

First, a little background on me.  I am the (volunteer) leader of the San Diego Real Diaper Circle, which is a group of hundreds of local cloth diapering families who support one another in finding and using reusable cloth diapers.  I do a lot of outreach, consulting with new parents to find the right cloth diapering solution for their families.

I ALWAYS recommend some wool when I'm helping to build a stash.

Next, a little background on diapers.  Every diaper consists of two parts - absorbency and moisture resistance.  You must have enough absorbency to soak up all the liquid.  But you must also have moisture resistance to keep that liquid from communicating to the outer clothing (or bed sheets!). While some diapers have put those two pieces together (like an all-in-one), many diapers rely on separate pieces for each job - a prefold, flat, or fitted diaper with a cover over it.

Covers are generally made of PUL, fleece, or wool.   If you prefer to put all natural fibers against your baby's skin, you'll naturally (hee hee) choose wool.  However, even if you're not worried about that, there is a place for wool in everyone's stash!  It is very breathable, and since wool can hold up to 3 times its weight in liquid without feeling wet to the touch, it is PERFECT for making that nighttime diapering solution bullet-proof.  (Of course, you also need to make sure you have enough absorbency underneath - we usually doubled up prefolds, fastened with a Snappi, and put a wool cover over it.)

Wool comes in a variety of shapes.

  • Wraps are shaped like PUL wraps, usually with snaps to close it.  While nice for easy on/off when diapering during the day, we looked for more coverage for nighttime.
  • Soakers are shaped more like underwear with a high waist and long leg cuffs.  They pull on and off like pants.
  • Shorties and longies are wool shorts and wool pants.  Some longies even have feet attached (called footies) so they're perfectly made for nighttime pajamas.

Care of wool is easier than you think.  While it must usually be hand-washed, it only needs to be cleaned once every few weeks or if it gets soiled.  (If your wool still smells even after it's dry, it's time to wash it).  Hand washing is simple - get yourself a wool wash bar (preferably with lanolin in it) and wash in the sink gently with lukewarm water.  Rinse and squeeze dry with a towel, then lay flat to dry completely.  That's it!

Heard about lanolizing?  You use lanolin (like is originally in wool fibers) to keep the wool nice and soft and water resistant.  But this only has to be done very infrequently (especially if you're use a wool wash with lanolin).  Use the Lansinoh most people have on hand for nipple relief during the early days of breastfeeding.  Dissolve a tiny amount in some boiling water, then put it in your sink full of lukewarm water.  Swish it around and then dunk and soak your wool cover.  Voila!  Lanolized.

While anyone can knit up a wool cover pretty easily - or even upcycle an old wool sweater (lots of directions available via internet search), we preferred interlock wool for nighttime.  Yes, it made for some BIG nighttime bottoms, but isn't a big diapered bottom part of what makes a baby look like a baby???

Heather McNamara
Executive Director, Real Diaper Association
San Diego Real Diaper Circle Leader
The Real Diaper Association is a 501(c)(3) non-profit whose mission is to get more babies into reusable cloth diapers. Join us today!


THANK YOU for this post! I've read lots and lots of cloth diaper blogs but never a post on Wool 101. I thought soakers, longies, and shorties were the same thing. Oops! And I never got why they were called soakers until now. So thank you! You've piqued my curiosity...I may have to try wool. :)
YEAH! I just talked to Heather and took the 100% cloth challenge...I have to say I was FREAKED out AND I'm a CD Service OWNER! :) So I totally understand the fright about nighttime CD' any event we're taking the challenge and since I talked to Heather, umm...last Wed...we have only used sposies at night...I JSUT bought 6 wool covers to get through the nighttime and I'm SOOOOOO excited to get them in the mail ESPECIALLY now since this article has really made me confident I can do! Thanks Heather!

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