As parents we all have a common goal ~ the best for our children.
We buy only the finest nursery décor, frilly pink for our little girls and bold bright colors for our little men. We paint the nursery, add the finest and cutest curtains with a matching throw rug and blankets. We investigate breastfeeding vs. bottle feeding, attachment parenting vs. a more traditional up bringing. Then we go on to consider being a stay at home mom, work at home mom, or work outside the home mom, and child care issues.
I feel the one thing we rarely consider is the clothing that goes directly next to our children's skin. Most of us simply got to the local mall or department store and buy what we think is cute. Rarely do we consider which fabrics are best for their skin, or which fabric allows for more movement and comfort. With a little knowledge of each fabric ~ cotton, cashmere, wool, hemp, and silk ~ together as parents we can decide what it the best for baby.
Cotton has been with us for years, it is the most popular and best selling fabric in the world. There have been hundreds of commercials that tell us that cotton is the fabric of our lives. And for the most part it is true. A 100% cotton garment is superior in comfort, and allows for all of babies movement. Cotton is non-irritating, never itchy or scratchy and is easily worn by most everyone. Cotton is especially good for people who are allergic to wool or synthetic fibers.
Cotton is also highly durable, it is 30% stronger when wet, so it washes well even in the hottest of water, and releases dirt and germs better than other fabrics. Cotton is free of static electricity which causes fabrics to cling and soil easily. Easily accepting dyes, cotton can provide you with the most vibrant of colors, and colorfast textiles. Due to its unique fiber structure cotton can absorb up to 25 times it's own weight in water. It breathes and helps remove body moisture by absorbing it and wicking it away form the skin. Thus keeping baby's skin dry. Dry skin is healthier skin, reducing the risk of rash and irritation.
Wool has been woven into fabric for use by human civilization for more than 10,000 years. It was spread world wide by the natural migrations of people, the spread of religions, and the conquests of armies. After all these millennium wool is still a major textile cornerstone for clothing, bedding carpeting and household furnishings. Wool is versatile and useful.
Wool is composed of the same protein that makes up the outer protective layer of our skin, and wool works with our outer protective layer of skin.
Providing natural UV protection, is another benefit of why we choose wool.
Everyone knows the best item of clothing on a harsh winter day is the big wool sweater, but wool is naturally breathable, it also keep us cool in the summer. Buffering the extreme cold or hot air on the outside, wool keeps our bodies in the perfect comfort zone.
Wool may be overlooked, and thought of as itchy and bulky. Today it can be blended reducing these qualities. It is naturally absorbent, resists mold and mildew, and a great insulator, I'm not sure we can find a better fiber for our children. Not only for clothing but for bedding as well. Next time you are shopping for your children keep wool in mind!
Cashmere is another wonder natural fiber. It is one of the world's most rare and valuable fibers, prized by the textile and knitwear industries for its softness and handle. The raw product is the fine downy undercoat of goats, grown during the winter months under the coarse, outer, weather-resistant guard hair. During the longer, warmer days of spring, the down is shed from the coat and is harvested by the combing or sheering.
Cashmere is highly breathable and offers warmth. The outstanding softness of cashmere makes it perfect for baby. It is lightweight. Cashmere is a top-of-the line fabric, and can be very pricey. Although larger chain stores are mixing it with wool and it is becoming more available. Still if you want a 100% cashmere article of clothing be willing to pull out the wallet!
Controversy follows my next fabric ~ Hemp! Yes, it is legal in the USA as fabric product, however it is not legal to cultivate industrial hemp. Hemp suffers guilt by association because it is related to marijuana even though industrial hemp contains almost not THC ~ the psychoactive component. While marijuana typically contains between 3 and 20% THC, industrial hemp produced less than 0.3%. Someone smoking sock will become nauseous ~ not high.
Hemp fibers are one of the longest naturally soft fibers. They are longer, stronger and more absorbent and provide more insulation than cotton. This means that hemp will keep you warmer in winter and cooler in summer. One of hemp's most interesting components is it's effectiveness of blocking the sun's harmful UV rays.
Hemp is highly absorbent to dyes, and coupled with it's natural ability to block UV rays it doesn't fade as quickly as cotton. Hemp is a soft, and highly movable fabric. When blended with cotton, linen or silk hemp provides a sturdy long lasting product.
Ah! Is there nothing better than a silk blouse. For mommy yes, but for baby let's take a better look at silk. Adults like silk because it is a luxurious fabric that is lush to touch and drapes beautifully on the body.
Silk is a fiber produced by the silkworm Bombyx mori. The worm weaves it cocoon with it. It is one of the finest textiles in the world. Silk is soft and has a brilliant sheen. Although it is very strong and absorbent it is sensitive to sunlight and must be very carefully laundered.
Silk would be a great choice for babies skin, but it is not as movable as the other fabrics, and it is difficult to wash.
All four of the fabrics discussed are healthy choices for our babies, and natural fibers are better than synthetic. Natural fibers provide more breath ability and movement for our on-the-go children. The clothing we put on our babies is physically closer to them than anything else. We must take a closer look at what we are putting on their skin.
Sue Ann Mulvey
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