Monthly Archives: August 2011

Getting the Facts Straight About Wool Covers: 12 Myths About Wool

Myth #1“Wool is scary.”

Wool is not scary in the least!  In fact, wool just might become your best friend. You just have to get to know wool really well, and you’ll soon fall in love as you realize how un-scary it really is.  Before you know it, you may not be able to live without it.  ♥

Myth #2:  “A wool cover will leak.”

Wool, once properly prepped, will not leak.  Ever.  In fact, wool will keep your baby warmer and happier than ever before.   While it is true that wool itself is not waterproof, it is actually highly absorbent at a microscopic level, and the lanolin naturally found in wool is water repellent.  Our baby was such a heavy night time wetter that he never managed to stay dry the whole night through until he wore his first wool soaker through the night.  We never once had a leak after that.  This phenomenon never ceases to amaze me.  Wool by itself tends to naturally repel water, and that property combined with lanolin (the oil naturally found in wool that is secreted by the sheep’s skin, which you add from time to time during the washing process), you have an excellent water-repelling fiber that’s totally natural!

Myth #3:  “Wool is difficult and time-consuming to clean.”

Wool is not at all difficult to clean.  Start to finish, you can wash your wool in 18 minutes flat (excluding drying time, of course).  15 of those minutes, you can be in a different room playing with your baby or checking your email.    To make things even easier, you don’t have to clean your wool more frequently than once per month.  Just air out your covers between each use, rotating between two or three covers during the day, and you don’t need to wash them until they smell of ammonia or have a visible stain.  When you need to lanolize your wool, this process will add a few extra minutes to your routine, but this does not need to be done every time the wool is washed (even less if you use a wool wash that contains lanolin).

Myth #4:  “Wool is too itchy!  My baby will be uncomfortable.”

Have you touched 100% organic virgin merino wool yet?   Once you do, all fears of itching will be eliminated.  It’s one of the softest materials you will ever touch.  If your concern is a wool allergy, your baby is probably allergic to the chemical residue that conventional wool contains.  Try organic wool, which contains no chemical or pesticide residues.  You’ll be pleasantly surprised.   It is also interesting to note that many babies are sensitive to polyester rather than wool.

Myth #5:  “Wool is more expensive than PUL.”

While each individual wool cover may have a higher price tag up front, in the long run you’ll spend less on diaper covers if you use wool exclusively than you would if you used PUL exclusively.  The reason is that with wool you can get away with fewer covers.  Wool covers don’t stink until they are very well used, so as long as you let the cover air out between uses, you can keep using, and using, and using it.  Conversely, with PUL covers, use them twice and they reek of urine so strongly you can smell it across the room.

Myth #6:  “Wool is too warm!  My baby will be too hot during summertime (or in general) while wearing wool.”

Wool, especially good quality wool, such as the organic, virgin merino wool we carry, is so lightweight and breathable that your baby can wear it on the hottest of summer days and not even break a sweat.  Wool by itself it so breathable that your baby’s temperature will not rise while wearing wool.  PUL covers, on the other hand, are not breathable in the least and thus result in higher temperatures inside of the diaper and more incidences of diaper rash.   This is an added benefit for preventing diaper rash too, a condition that is often the result of heat and not enough air circulation.   Plus, there are wool covers for every season…if you’re still concerned about too much warmth, try these ultra thin, single layer wool shorts, which are great for daytime and summertime.

Myth #7:  “My baby can wear wool at night, but not during the day. Wool is too thick to wear underneath clothes.”

There are many types of wool covers designed specifically for daytime use.  They are just as leak-proof as any PUL cover, they are just as trim, and they still have all of the same wonderful benefits of any wool cover.  There are stretchy one-size wool wraps, thicker, more heavy duty wraps with Velcro fasteners, and even lightweight pull-on shorts.  You can even get fancy wool pants that double as pants and a diaper cover, all in one!  Talk about cost-effective.

Myth #8:  “Wool will not last as long as PUL.  Won’t it stretch, felt, or shrink after many uses?”

If you properly take care of your wool, it will last for years, and chances are, it will outlive any PUL cover out there.  Besides, a little felting on a wool diaper cover will actually help prevent leaks, so it’s certainly not something to be feared.

Myth #9:  “I use prefolds, and those are impossible to use under wool.”

Prefolds can, in fact, absolutely be used with wool, just as they can with any PUL cover.  You just need the right type of wool cover.  A good wool wrap, such as the Little BeetleOrganic Caboose, or Disana, will fit perfectly over a prefold diaper held in place with a snappi or pin.  If snappis are not your thing, you can even trifold your prefold directly into the wool wrap and place it quickly on your baby.  If any messes leak out onto your wool cover, you can do a quick stain clean-up with a wool wash bar and some lukewarm water.

Myth #10:  “My baby will leak if we go out of the house.”

Your baby will not leak at all wearing the appropriate type of wool cover that is properly prepped.  We are full-time wool users– at night, during the day, and outside of the house–  and our baby has never once had a leak, even after several hours with the same wool cover.  There are some great options available for nighttime wear, daytime wear, and even lighter options that are great for summertime or families that practice EC.

Myth #11:  “Wool is okay for some days, but it’s impossible to use full-time.”

Anyone can use wool full time with the right combination of diapers and covers.  There are some great options available that are ideal for different times of day: thick wool soakers that are tough enough to last all night, trim stretchy wool wraps that are perfect for outings and naps, and even lighter options that are great for summertime or families that practice EC.

Myth #12:  “It’s impossible to use wool with a newborn because newborn poo is too runny and will quickly soil the wool covers.”

While it is true that newborn poo can run onto the inside of a wool cover more easily than solid food poo, using wool with a newborn is not impossible.  You simply need the right type of cloth diaper.  We recommend using a cotton fitted diaper that really fits your baby snugly and comfortably.  A fitted diaper that fits right will really help to contain poo leakage so you can continue using your wool cover without washing it until really necessary.  Another useful tip- invest in a wool wash bar and spot clean your cover in the case of a small poo stain.

Wool is an outstanding choice for cloth diaper cover.  We became addicts after our baby’s first leak-free night wearing his Engel wool soaker on a chilly winter night.  We never looked back.  Organic wool paired with a 100% organic cotton fitted or prefold diaper is the only true organic and all-natural cloth diapering solution.  No PUL, no plastic, no Velcro, and even no snaps or pins are all options!  An organic wool diaper cover is the only all-natural, polyester-free choice for cloth diaper covers.  And since it works just as well, if not better, why not go for the all natural, sustainable choice?


Conquering Your Fears of Wool Cloth Diaper Covers

If you cloth diaper your baby, chances are you’ve heard a thing or two about wool covers.  Or perhaps you have just spotted one in your favorite cloth diapering store, hanging by itself looking suspiciously solitary, unusually shaped, and even somewhat shabby looking compared its brightly patterned PUL counterpart in the adjacent display.  You may have been curious, confused, or even intimidated, and you may or may not have pulled that lonely wool cover off of the wall to give it a try.

If you felt this way, you’re not alone.  Many mothers find themselves intrigued by the idea of wool but do feel intimidated by this mysterious textile that found its way into the world of cloth diapering.  I was one of these mothers, and I’ll admit, it took months after the first time I saw a wool cover for me to finally put one on my baby.  And I am glad I did.  In fact, I never looked back.  I fell in love with everything about wool, and I am a die-hard, full-time wool user when it comes to diapering my baby.

So what was it that conquered my fears of wool and turned me into an aficionado?  A few things.  But first, let me tell you why I secretly feared wool (and why I later learned that my fears were entirely ungrounded)

3 Reasons I Feared Wool Cloth Diaper Covers:

  1. Fear of Leakage: After exclusively using PUL covers on my baby and still experiencing leakage from time to time, especially at night, I found it nearly impossible to imagine that a soft piece of wool could prevent leaks when a “waterproof” piece of plastic couldn’t.  I imagined my baby waking up soaked and chilled to the bone on a cold winter night.   I could not have been more wrong about this one.
  2. Fear of Washing Wool: I, like all moms, am a busy woman.  How would I have time to hand wash & lanolize my wool covers when I struggled to get the rest of the laundry washed each week, in a machine?  Wrong about this one too….the washing process is surprisingly quick, efficient, and only required once every month or so.  Plus, if you have a wool wash that contains lanolin, you don’t even need to lanolize each time! 
  3. Fear of the Unknown: Wool just, well…it looks scary, I guess.  Upon first glance.   It looks so.. odd.  Like a tiny misshapen sweater with arms that are too short for anyone.  It’s also too beautiful, in a way.  So soft and lovely and clean.  It just does not look like something that is meant to go over a cloth diaper that could potentially become soaked with pee and blasted with poo.  Whatever the reason may be, wool is intimidating.  I approached my first wool cover with a great deal of trepidation and a bit of anxiety.  And after using and falling in love with wool, I realized that it is oddly shaped and it is perhaps too beautiful to become stained with yellow poo… but it does the job, and it does the job outstandingly well.  You’ll become so comfortable handling and cleaning wool that you’ll soon wonder how you ever feared it.

In the end, despite my fears and doubts, I decided to go for it.  I had heard some good things about wool, and I was frustrated with leaky AIO diapers at night time and PUL covers that stunk after only two uses.  I conquered my fears of wool, and I got my facts straight.

Next on the blog:  Wool Diaper Covers: Twelve Myths About Wool & Then the Facts

Natural vs Synthetic: Choosing the Right Type of Cloth Diaper for Your Baby

The decision to use cloth diapers is an exciting one, but it can quickly become an overwhelming one as you begin shopping around for cloth diapers only to find that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of styles and materials out there.

Before exploring different styles of cloth diapers, you must first determine which type of fabric you want to cloth diaper your baby with.  When it comes to fabric, there are two basic categories of cloth diapers:  synthetic and natural.  We categorize these based on the actual material that touches your baby’s skin, not by the outer material.

At Little Spruce Organics, we strongly believe that this inner fabric is the most important element of the cloth diaper.  The outside layer is important because that material will determine how leak-proof your diaper ultimately is, but the inner layer is crucial because that is the layer that is next to the most sensitive area of your baby’s body, sometimes for hours at a time.  The quality of fabric of this inner layer also determines the level of absorbency and comfort for your baby.

Shouldn’t the material that is in closest contact with your baby’s sensitive bum be the most important factor in deciding what type of diaper to use?   We think so.  And that is why we decided to carry only cloth diapers made from 100% organic, natural fibers.  Let us explain why.

Synthetic Cloth Diapers

All synthetic cloth diapers are made from polyester.  Polyester is made from the same material that is used to make plastic (PET).  Polyester is petroleum-based. Petroleum is a non-renewable material.

There are many types of polyester diapers with too many fancy names to count, so the synthetic cloth diaper category can be a bit confusing.  The bottom line is this:  if it’s not made from 100% cotton, 100% hemp, or 100% wool, then it is made from a synthetic, man-made fiber.  Some examples of synthetic diaper materials are suedecloth, microfiber, microterry, and polyester fleece. Many pocket diapers, All-in-One diapers, and even some fitted diapers contain synthetic materials in the inside layer that lies next to the baby’s skin.

Polyester is exceedingly popular in the textile industry because it is versatile, durable, and stays “dry” for long periods of time.  It is used quite often to make cloth diapers with the objective of attaining a “stay-dry” feeling diaper for your baby.  “Stay-dry” doesn’t really mean that your baby is actually dry, of course.  Just like disposable diapers, this concept simply means that your baby doesn’t feel the wetness as quickly as she would with a cotton diaper.  When considering synthetic cloth diapers, it is important to keep in mind that one of the many benefits of cloth diapering is that both you and your baby become innately more aware of your baby’s elimination habits.   We feel that the “stay-dry” concept defeats the purpose of this aspect of cloth diapering.

Yes, this means changing a few more diapers.  But it is well worth it… especially considering that synthetic fibers are notorious for causing more diaper rash and retaining foul smells much more than natural fibers, and they are much harder to get clean.  More frequent diaper changes and 100% natural fibers next to your baby’s skin means less diaper rash, cleaner diapers, and a happier baby.

Natural Cloth Diapers

Cloth diapers made from natural fibers refer to any cloth diaper in which the layer that is in closest contact with the baby’s skin is made from 100% natural fiber.  Natural fibers commonly used for cloth diapers include cotton, hemp (or a cotton/hemp blend), and bamboo.  The natural fiber used for cloth diaper covers is wool.

  • Cotton is the most common natural fiber that is made into cloth diapers, and this is our favorite!  Cotton is very absorbent, easy to care for, and comfortable for babies.  Organic cotton is ideal, since conventional cotton is produced with many pesticides and chemical additives during its processing.
  • Hemp fiber comes from the plant species cannibus sativa.  Hemp is not typically certified organic, but its production is considered organic by definition.  Hemp grows quickly and does not require the use of fertilizer or pesticides.  When used in cloth diapers, hemp is quite absorbent, thick, and durable.  These qualities make it a fantastic diapering material.
  • Bamboo is a sustainable crop; its quick growth allows it to be replaced quickly with a new crop.  Like hemp, it does not typically require fertilizers or pesticides to grow.  Bamboo is nice for diapering because it is soft and very absorbent.  The environmentally friendliness of processing of bamboo can be questionable, so organic bamboo that is processed mechanically instead of chemically is ideal, though much harder to find.
  • Wool is by far the most sustainable material available for cloth diapering materials.  Wool is used to make cloth diaper covers that work very well at containing leaks and allowing air to circulate.  Organic wool is ideal as it contains no pesticide residue and the sheep are raised organically. 

Why we choose natural cloth diapers over synthetic:

  • Natural fibers are better for your baby’s skin than synthetics.  No question about this one.  For more information on the dangers of plastics, you can read our blog article here.   Some babies are sensitive to polyester fabrics, so you may find that polyester causes diaper rash on your baby, regardless of how clean it is.
  • Natural fibers are highly absorbent, and they let your baby know when she’s wet.  Natural cloth diapers don’t include any “stay-dry” materials, so when your baby is wet, she’ll stay wet.  Why do we list this as an advantage?  It’s simple:  it is healthier for your baby to know when she’s wet.  This helps your baby to become more aware of her elimination, making it easier to potty-train later, and it helps your baby to let you know when she needs to be changed.  
  • Natural cloth diapers are easier to keep clean and care for.  Keeping your cloth diapers clean is one of the most crucial aspects of successful cloth diapering, and unfortunately, not all types of cloth diapers clean up easily.  Polyester is notorious for retaining smells and stains.  Natural fibers do not typically acquire the “stink” problem that is typical of synthetic cloth diapers, making the entire cloth diapering experience a more pleasant one.
  • Natural cloth diapers are made from renewable resources, making them better for the environment.  Note:  when we refer to “natural fibers,” we refer to organic cotton, organic wool, hemp, and mechanically processed organic bamboo.  Cotton and wool must be organic to be considered friendly to the environment, while bamboo and hemp are generally considered “organic” without the organic certification.
  • Natural cloth diapers are soft, don’t irritate babies’ skin, and are highly absorbent.  Nothing beats a good old fashioned, 100% cotton diaper.  Hemp is one of the most absorbent materials available.  For a diaper cover, wool is unquestionably the best material available- it breathes, it’s comfortable for the baby, it’s naturally antibacterial, it is bulletproof once properly washed and lanolized, and you don’t have to wash it that often!   Why use anything else?