Monthly Archives: July 2012

The Perfect Summertime Wool Cover: Engel Nappy Pants

At first glance, these thin, single-knit, nearly transparent wool shorts are a little perplexing.  How can something so thin function as a diaper cover?  But after your baby has pushed these nappy pants to their limit, you’ll realize why they are worth every penny.  For hot summer days, there is simply nothing better for keeping your baby comfortable.

Why we love them:

They pull on like shorts.  What’s not to love about that?  You will especially love this feature when your baby has graduated from the phase of lying calmly on the changing table and entered the phase of wildly twisting, kicking, running all over the house, resisting the diaper change.  Just pull on those shorts and you’re good to go, before your baby even knows what happened.

They are trim!  These are by far the trimmest diaper cover we have found.  This holds true for both PUL and wool covers.  When your baby wears these, they fit like a pair of underwear.   Trimness can be a lovely breath of fresh air for cloth diapering parents, especially when you’re trying to fit your baby into that one pair of pants you love so much but just never seems to fit over a cloth diaper…

They are breathable.  This is so important when cloth diapering, especially during the hot summer, and this lovely, lightweight wool exceeds all expectations in the breathability department.  A breathable wool cover helps with diaper rash problems and eliminates the concern for your baby overheating.

They are just the right thickness to encourage more frequent diaper changes.   Nappy pants are thick enough to keep your baby dry for short periods of time, but they are just thin enough that there is no question about when your baby needs to be changed.  They typically start feeling damp on the outside after one or two pees, thereby encouraging frequent diaper changes.   Why is this a good thing?  It is much healthier for your baby to be changed more often.   This is the way it should be, all the time.  What baby wants to sit in a urine-soaked diaper for hours on end?  Babies should be changed every 1-2 hours on average, and most babies pee once or twice in a 2 hour period.  The timing is perfect.   This is also fabulous for parents who practice EC (or for potty training).

They do not itch.  If you are having doubts about wool due to a dislike for itchy wool or suspected wool allergies, we recommend trying organic wool.  Organic wool is the softest wool you’ll ever touch, and it absolutely does not itch.  Often, wool allergies are caused by pesticide residues or residues from other chemical treatments found in conventional wool.   Organically raised sheep are not treated with synthetic pesticides, so the concern for pesticide residues is drastically reduced.

They are 100% organic & natural.  Engel’s nappy pants are made from 100% pure, certified organic wool.  It’s a wonderful feeling knowing that only natural fibers are touching your baby’s skin, especially when it works as a diaper cover too.

They are easy to clean.  Like any wool cover, the nappy pants do not need to be laundered frequently.  You really don’t need to clean them until they start smelling of urine (this can take a while!) or become soiled, as long as you air them out between each use.  If they are soiled in just one area, spot cleaning with a wool wash bar does wonders, and a full laundering can wait until necessary.    Also, since they are so thin, washing them is easy and quick, and they dry faster than most wool covers.

They are perfect for summer time.   These are by far the BEST wool covers for hot summer days that we have found.    In our home, we continue using wool year round, and we don’t usually have any problems with wool being too hot since wool regulates temperature exceptionally well, but our baby lives in his nappy pants during summer.  He runs around at home wearing nothing but a fitted diaper and his nappy pants, and they are truly the most lightweight, breathable, and comfy little wool shorts imaginable.

They aren’t just for cloth- they are great for using over disposable diapers too.   Even if you use disposable diapers, nappy pants are excellent to have on hand.  For nights, disposables are notorious for soaking through, and an excellent way to curb that is by using nappy pants over a disposable.  The nappy pants provide just enough wool to keep your baby dry if the disposable diaper does soak through.  The wool will absorb the moisture before your baby’s clothing does.  They are so trim that neither you nor your baby will notice a difference while wearing them over a regular diaper.

As you can see, we love these little wool shorts!  Have you tried the Engel Nappy Pants on your baby?  If so, we would love to hear about your experience.

Keep Your Baby Cool in Summertime with Organic Silk

During the heat of the summer, particularly during an exceptionally scorching summer such as this one, new parents often struggle to find appropriate clothing for their newborn baby.  The dilemma is this: how do we find clothing that will keep our babies at a comfortable temperature under the heat of the sun without exposing their delicate skin to the sun’s damaging UV rays?

Silk is one of the best natural fibers for keeping babies comfortable without overheating.  Lightweight, delicate, and incredibly breathable, babies can wear an organic silk top in the heat of the summer and feel cool and comfortable.

Take that same silk garment and make every step of its production sustainable, and you simply cannot go wrong when it comes to selecting fabric to dress your little one.  Certified organic silk is a fabric that is not widely available but that is second to none when it comes to delicate newborn skin.  Organic silk is without doubt, one of nature’s most pure and luxurious gifts to a newborn baby.

Why is silk ideal for babies?  

  • Silk is gentle and soft, making it ideal for sensitive baby skin, soothing  for those with allergies.
  • Silk is absorbent and stays dry.  Silk has the ability to absorb 30% of its weight in moisture while keeping your baby’s skin dry.
  • Organic silk is safe for your baby.  Organic silkworms consume only organic mulberry leaves, making the final product free of any residues of harmful chemicals.
  • Silk has a excellent thermal capacity.  Silk is temperature-regulating, maintaining a consistent body temperature for your baby, so your baby will not overheat or become cold while wearing silk.  Silk is perfect for any time of year!
  • Untreated silk, or ‘raw silk’ has healing properties.   Raw silk has not been degummed, meaning that the natural seracin, or silk gum, has not been removed from the filament.   This type of silk does not have the typical sheen that most people associate with silk, but it is excellent for babies with sensitive skin.  Sericin is said to be healing and anti-inflammatory.
  • Silk is lightweight and breathable.   Silk clothing is not bulky, enabling you to keep your baby warm with fewer layers.  It is ideal either on its own year-round or as a base layer during the cooler months of the year. 
  • Silk is easy to care for.  Most silk garments may be machine washed up to 86 degrees F and dry very quickly since they do not retain moisture. 

What is organic silk?

Conventional silk is available everywhere, and its production dates back thousands of years, but few people are aware of what is actually involved in the production of this luxurious textile.  We hear a lot about organic cotton these days, but what about organic silk?

The reason there is not much talk of organic silk is that it is very rare.  In fact, there is currently only one site for certified organic silk production in the world.  The first and only certified organic silk farm in the world, SABA (Sichuan Alkena Biodynamic Agricultur), is a biodynamic farm that is certified by the IMO (Institute for Marketecology) in every step of the silk’s production, from the raw material to the fabric dyes and labor conditions.

Located in the Sichuan province of southwestern China, this project is unique in many aspects.  In a world of silk production that involves monoculture, dependence on heavy chemicals, and exploitation of poorly paid laborers, the Sichuan Alkena project is truly a gem in the textile industry.

Silk is a direct product of the silkworm, which eats continuously for approximately 30 days before building its cocoon and spinning its silk thread.  As is true with all natural fibers, the quality of the raw material (the silk cocoon, in this case) is directly related to the quality of the end product.   Essentially, the silk worm is made of mulberry leaves.  Therefore, the quality of the diet of the silkworm itself directly affects the quality of the silk fibers.  A silkworm that eats only organic mulberry leaves will produce a much higher quality silk filament that is free of any harmful pesticide residues.

If the feed does contain harmful substances, the silkworm, a highly sensitive organism, will react directly to such substances.  The silkworm will either perish or will not develop properly and will be at risk to many different types of diseases.  Cocoons produced by diseased silkworms are smaller, spotted, thin-walled and yellow in color instead of the healthy, pearl white color of the healthy cocoons.

A healthy silkworm produces a healthy cocoon, which in turn produces healthy, long filaments that may be endlessly unreeled.   This silk is a much higher quality than silk produced from an unhealthy cocoon.  Lower quality silk filaments are dull in color, which results in an uneven knitted silk fabric, often resulting in chemicals being added during the preliminary coloring stages.  As with any textile production, residues of these harmful substances will remain on the final article of clothing.

Photo courtesy of “mynameisharsha” via Flickr Creative Commons

In the organic silk production on the Sichuan Alkena project, the mulberry trees are grown organically and inter-planted with hundreds of other fruit and over 5000 other plant and tree species that provide nesting sites for birds as well as shade and protection from the wind.  The farm is run using biodynamic farming principles.  The biodiversity found on this project creates a harmonious, thriving ecosystem that mimics nature.

Poor labor conditions and low wages are another major concern in the production of conventional silk.  The labor conditions on the Sichuan Alkena farm are excellent.  The workers enjoy safe working conditions,  a casual and relaxed work environment, no child labor, and fair wages.   Sichuan Alkena’s biologically dynamic cultivation of silk improves environmental conditions, overall living conditions, and requires the need for more manual labor, which has a positive effect on the high level of unemployment among the Chinese countryside populations.

All processes in Sichuan Alkena’s organic silk production, including knitting, weaving, dyeing, printing, and sewing are inspected annually by the IMO and meet the GOTS organic production standards.  All dyes used in Alkena’s organic silk is free of heavy metals, toxins, and AOX.

Alkena’s organic baby collection includes beautiful short and long sleeved tops, trousers, rompers, bonnets, and bodysuits.  What better first outfit for a summertime baby than lovely, pure organic silk?

Organic silk apparel for babies is available for purchase at Little Spruce Organics.

Sources: SABA ((Sichuan Alkena Biodynamic Agricultur)